An interview with OCS

Jacky So
6 February, 24

What is your full name and job title? 

Jacky So – ESG Director UK & Ireland at OCS

How long have you had your current role?

I started with OCS in September 2023. 

Tell us a bit about your company. 

OCS UK & Ireland, part of the OCS Group, is a leading facilities management company providing a range of both standalone and integrated services. The company has a turnover of £1.5bn and operates across the UK and Ireland with 50,000 colleagues, delivering innovative, award-winning services to the private and public sectors and supporting the local communities in which it operates. Our vision is to become the best facilities business in the world by making people and places the best they can be. Our TRUE values of Trust, Unity, Respect and Empowerment are at the heart of everything we do.

Name 3 key challenges and 3 opportunities your business is facing? 

At OCS we see our ESG challenges as opportunities and these include

1 . Regulations and data

Challenge – There are an increasing number of ESG related regulations that are affecting/will affect many organisations directly or indirectly – mostly stemming from the EU but the UK is following closely behind. With these regulations, it requires businesses to collect and report on various ESG topics and whereas in the past, this has been focused on climate/emissions, going forward we are seeing an expansion into the S (social) and G (governance). The level of detail and increase in non-financial data requirements means businesses must set up the right processes and systems which requires additional time, resources and senior leadership buy in. The number of businesses affected by these regulations is also expanding so there will be challenges for organisations with little or no dedicated ESG and sustainability personnel. 

Opportunity – There is opportunity created by leveraging ESG data as we are seeing an increase in ESG data requirements from large organisations and contracts.  So providing your customers with the data they need (for example they may need emissions data on their suppliers) will become a hygiene factor and not doing so will put you at a disadvantage. 

2 . Net zero targets

Challenge – Reducing emissions and going to net zero is very challenging and one of the reasons is because some factors to get there are out of your control, for example, having commercially viable technology for heavy goods type of vehicles.  

Opportunity – As a facilities services company we can have a large impact for our customers as ‘the operations of buildings account for 30% of global final energy consumption and 26% of global energy-related emissions1 (8% being direct emissions in buildings and 18% indirect emissions from the production of electricity and heat used in buildings)’ ** Therefore, companies like OCS play a big part in reducing emissions.  Being able to provide soft and hard services in house is one of our strengths and we can help our customers manage their buildings and assets efficiently and reduce energy usage for example by installing smart technology to be able to track energy usage.  

3 . Social value and impact 

Challenge – The S part of ESG is tricky as it involves people and that brings in multiple factors which can affect outcomes. That said it’s also the best part, as the impact a business can make can truly change lives. At OCS we understand that, and we employ people from many different backgrounds compared to other industries. 

Opportunity – OCS has always had a strong focus on Social Values and being a large employer in the UK and globally, we can create long lasting impacts for our employees and the local communities. We can bring in people from different walks of life and get them into the exciting industry of FM. For example, we recruit many apprentices into the business which is a win-win for OCS and our stakeholders as we get talent who will stay in the business for a longer period of time, but also help increase social value for our customers and positively impact local communities. 

Tell us an anecdote that really sums up who you are as a leader. 

Developing talent is one of my passions and something I ensure happens in the teams or people I have worked with – training and coaching team members, especially those who are in the early stages of their career. For example, last year for a graduate who joined my team (in a previous company/role), we worked together to ensure she could translate the theory into practice, by getting her involved in projects which has tangible and critical outcomes.  By building up her exposure, working with different stakeholders and workstreams steadily throughout 6-12 months, she was able to become a trusted advisor within the business in ESG reporting and data. She was responsible for making sure the company successfully conducted its first external verification of non-financial data, which is quite a feat given we started from ground zero with a blank excel sheet! Outside of normal day to day work management I believe mentoring is a key aspect of leadership and so we worked on her career/personal development plan to ensure she was ready to take on and thrive in future roles – with a few CV reviews and tips she has now found an exciting new role in London!

What is your philosophy for life and/or business?

Work smart and focus on the long-lasting, meaningful impact. 

Who/what has been your greatest influence?

Spending time volunteering in Kenya and Cambodia has influenced me greatly – when you see and experience how difficult day to day activities can be it puts things into perspective. 

What do you find hard to do? And why? 

I find it difficult to go out and stretch my legs/go outside for a break during the working day – it’s very easy to get stuck behind a screen – especially when it’s cold and dark outside! 

Who do you most admire? 

People who work in frontline jobs that may not seem critical and are often underappreciated as they are ‘behind the scenes’ and may work at times when people are still in bed. It’s easy to take things for granted but without them then life would come to a standstill – e.g cleaners who make sure the spaces we use are safe and clean; porters who help transport patients around healthcare facilities; and security teams who keep areas safe of the public. 

If you didn’t work at OCS – what would you choose to do? 

Something outdoors or fitness/health related. I enjoy keeping fit and healthy as physical and mental health go hand in hand so you need to be actively managing both.


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