Steph Millington – Area Cleaning Manager, Barnsley Norse

Steph Millington is the Area Cleaning Manager for Barnsley Norse, a position she has held for 11 years following her promotion from H&S Training Officer.

Responsible for the management of cleaning at around 80 sites and the health, safety and wellbeing of 135 employees, Steph is sharing her story and experience as a woman working in local government this International Women’s Day.

My career began back in October 1989. I was in the second year of my A-Levels and realised it wasn’t the path for me. I started applying for jobs and attended an interview at Barnsley Council for a Junior Entrant position, working in the Buildings Department within the Education Department. I was offered the job on Friday, started on the Tuesday – and I’ve never left!

The role required me to attend Barnsley College and I attained BTEC ONC and HNC in Business and Finance. I had several promotions and department changes but the constant was always cleaning. I worked on the client side, the contract side and then became part of the FM team where I got to work in the prestigious Barnsley Town Hall – a building I loved working in! In November 2011, a joint venture was formed with Barnsley MBC and Norse, and I was transferred to the newly formed Barnsley Norse.

At the start of my career, I noticed many women were doing the admin roles and the Senior Officers were predominantly male. I worked for one Senior Officer who was female, and things did start to change, as more Senior Officer roles were being filled by women. Jo Taylor became my manager when I transferred to the FM team, and she has remained that ever since.

One of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on in my career is the Sheffield Schools Cleaning Contract. This was our first ‘contract win’ as Barnsley Norse and we were awarded this early in my role as Area Cleaning Manager. I had a small window of just over a month to mobilise the contract, which included 10 schools located throughout Sheffield.

Aswell as the mobilisation of the Sheffield contract, I would say the highlight of my career would be winning a Pride of Norse Award for the volunteering and fundraising I do for Barnsley Hospice. I also won an Excellence Award in 2023 for the work we do with Barnsley MBC’s Supported Employment Service, which helps individuals with learning difficulties or challenging needs get into paid employment. This is something that I am very passionate about; I am extremely proud of the chances we give to those who struggle to find employment.

The advice I would give to anyone wanting to work in the industry is never ask someone to do something that you are not prepared to do yourself and to always lead by example. I would also say that you need to be firm but fair and not prejudge people.

Steph's Words of Affirmation

"Believe in what you want to achieve and focus on achieving it. I started out in my career by making the drinks for the team I worked with, but I knew I wanted to do more. So, I worked hard, asked to be developed and to be given the chance to prove what I could do."

Read more stories from IWD here