Ceris Burns, a member of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC), tells us about her career and the benefits of being part of this respected livery company
Why did you join the WCEC?
I joined the WCEC because… early on in my journey, a learned soul took me under his wing and said that if I wanted to succeed in the cleaning industry I must join the livery. Like many others I’d never even heard of the WCEC. I was invited to the Ladies’ Banquet back in 2002 when I thought I was way too young ‘to go to an evening like that’. I’d never been to a City event in such an impressive venue. When I launched CBI PR, I decided that I would take the advice of my esteemed colleague. I loved the tradition of the City and the fact that I was joining the heart of my industry. A true PR and marketing pro, I realised that membership would give me access to a whole host of industry colleagues to network with. My radar was on and interest heightened. Friend and fellow liveryman Chris Luxton enthusiastically proposed my membership – I joined in 2009 and immediately applied to become a liveryman. I have since supported several WCEC committees and have recently been admitted as Court Assistant.
Can you give a brief overview of your career history – and tell us what brought you to the cleaning industry?
I’m a linguist and international marketer by trade. After five years marketing welding and cutting equipment in Italy I decided it was time to come back home. The novelty of Italy had worn off – I was tired of designer brands, being thin and was in need of a proper mug of tea. I got a job doing international marketing in East Sussex promoting washroom hygiene systems for Kennedy. I’d never dreamed of working in the cleaning industry but compared with welding it seemed pretty sanitary and, well, exciting. I was surprised to learn that there is so much more to cleaning and hygiene than meets the eye and quickly became an expert in feminine hygiene! Five years later I launched Ceris Burns International – the PR business that I head up today. With the cleaning and hygiene industries at the heart of CBI we have expanded organically to a solid team of 12 and now span cleaning, FM and resource management. Today our campaigns reach as far afield as Australia.
What are the benefits of membership, and how have these helped you personally?
My days in Italy metaphorically speaking mirror how the livery has helped me in my career. Like the Italian matriarchal family, the WCEC has provided a welcoming protective core for me to learn the ways of the industry and build a powerful and friendly network. It is enjoyable to be a member and without doubt it has supported, if indirectly, the tremendous growth of CBI PR. Maybe I’m starting to get old but I wouldn’t hesitate to advise a young newcomer to join. It’s really not just for the oldies (although quite a few wise old owls are of course members, the recent Installation banquet hosted lots of fresh young faces!)
What would you say to someone thinking about joining the WCEC – why should they do it?
Just do it! You won’t regret it or I’ll give you your money back! If you are serious about getting on in this industry it’s the very best thing you will ever do.
Why is the cleaning industry a good place to work?
It’s a down to earth ‘essential’ industry that is here for the long term. It’s also a bit addictive and a great source of unusual stories for the pub.
What are your predictions for the cleaning industry in the future?
The future is bright! Google it and find out more.