For Doobin, one of biggest goals for the 100 percent woman-owned Harvard Services Group is to provide up-and-comers in the cleaning industry the same opportunity to thrive that she was given. Her active involvement in industry organizations such as the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) and the ISSA Hygieia Network Mentoring Program have helped her achieve that goal.

Not only has she learned a great deal through her participation with these groups, but they also provide a platform for her to help others. Both organizations offer outstanding educational opportunities, as well as the chance to network with both industry newcomers and veterans alike — in a mentor/mentee capacity with the ISSA Hygieia Network and through peer-to-peer forums with BSCAI.

“Career mentoring helps mentees expand networks, gain knowledge and insights, and build new skills,” says Doobin. “But understanding which aspect you would like to be mentored on is helpful in agreeing on goals with a potential mentor. You may need one mentor for one aspect, and a different one for another attribute you are looking to develop.”

She adds that consistently promoting mentorship program opportunities can go a long way toward not only helping address industry-wide retention issues for BSCs, but it can help identify employees who have the desire to learn the industry.

“Whether they are looking for mentorship or offer to be mentors, programs like these will help your employees with the important — yet elusive — networking aspect in our industry,” she says. “That will, in return, add a new skill set to bring to your business.”

Reflecting on her own beginnings in the cleaning industry, notable mentors that stood out included former OCS Group CEO Chris Cracknell and former BSCAI President Sally Schopmeyer. Both leaders encouraged her to further network with valuable contacts in the industry. But the early opportunity to build those relationships wouldn’t have arrived without hopping on a plane to New Zealand for the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) conference prior to her cleaning career.

“My advice for any newcomers to the industry who are struggling to find mentorship is to join BSCAI, and/or the ISSA Hygeia Network and serve on one of the various committees,” says Doobin.

Although she is a strong proponent of helping all young executives thrive in their careers, Doobin holds a special place in her heart for female entrepreneurs. Grateful for the opportunities presented to her in her career, she continues to give back — and those efforts have been recognized.

Over the past decade, Doobin has received several accolades. She was named as one of the 2013 Enterprising Women of the Year and was featured in the 2015 Forbes’ List of America’s Most Powerful Women issue. She also received the 2017 JLL Supplier of Distinction award, as well as the 2019 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Star of the Year award, to name just a few. While the recognition is nice, Doobin views the awards as a reminder of the challenges she’s overcome and how much more she can offer to others who are facing similar obstacles getting established.

“Advancing women in our industry is a shared responsibility. It’s imperative to help attract young professionals and retain those who have chosen to become BSCs,” she says. “Whether perceived or real, women leaders sometimes feel pressure to conform to the male leadership model. If we bend to that pressure, we sacrifice one of our own sources of strength and personal power.”

Doobin adds that she’s been able to break the mold and create her own leadership model by learning how to ask good questions to colleagues and clients alike. While it comes with experience, asking questions that require people to be introspective and elaborate on their own challenges leads to a better consensus — on all sides — for how to overcome them.

“Inquiring about client needs shows that you understand specific matters, let alone assist with the answers. Once established as an expert advisor, the potential gender bias tends to go away,” she says.

The Road Ahead

Thirteen years after her husband Stanley served as BSCAI president, Nathalie is preparing for her own term at the helm, and she will be assuming the role for 2022. Doobin started attending industry conferences prior to becoming a contractor and has held various roles on the BSCAI Board of Directors since 2015. She is more than prepared for the task at hand.

With ever-changing variants and unpredictable infection rates a reality, she will certainly have a full slate helping BSCAI provide up-to-date COVID-19 Disinfection and Safety materials and training courses for the cleaning industry, amongst other things.

“Stanley shared that one’s presidency year goes by quickly and to therefore be ready with the goals I would like to bring to the Board of Directors,” says Doobin. “Focus gets things done!”

Getting things done is what Doobin does, whether it’s in the boardroom or outside the office. When not working with BSCAI or dealing with business-related Harvard matters, Doobin enjoys giving back to the community.

“Harvard has a long history of helping the communities that we work in, as well as taking care of our employees beyond just a paycheck and benefits,” she says. “This past holiday season, we made large contributions to charities which were selected by our local management teams.”

While Doobin prides herself on being an individual with a wide variety of interests, the unique challenges encountered in commercial cleaning means that she’s committed for years to come.

“It may not seem as glamorous as other industries, but you’ll always be in demand. It’s a profession that allows for creativity in developing solutions for clients,” she says. “It requires someone that can think quickly and develop unique solutions tailored to client’s needs — no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Each day is different and there’s always a new puzzle to solve.”

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Nathalie Doobin Brings A Fresh Approach To Leadership