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Peter Hug: Cleaning is a fascinating and very international business

Sustainability is a major topic in our industry. I hope this can be also a topic that motivates women to join our industry sector.

How did you end up working in the cleaning industry?

Already 1993 I started my career at VDMA, the German Engineering Federation. I worked for the construction machinery industry as an association manager. In 2009 I had the chance to become the managing director of the German association of the cleaning machines manufacturers within VDMA. In parallel I took over the role as managing director of EUnited Cleaning, the European Association of cleaning system companies. The machinery business is a very export-oriented industry. This part of the story striked me the most. To give you one example of the projects that I am proud of. Together with the German development agency GIZ we started various schools for cleaners in India and managed to train more than 20,000 young people already. We are still expanding this project and I personally would like to see the program to be launched in other countries as well. I strongly believe in good educational training for our industry. Skilled people are more productive, deliver better cleaning results and are motivated. But still it is a challenge to convince young talents to join our business sector.

How do you look at diversity within teams?

It is great and prolific to work in diversified teams. Not only people of different gender ,but, a broad mix of work experience, age and origin. I think it is important to keep people long term in the jobs. However, I find it interesting as well to have people with different backgrounds in teams. My team, but we are organizing an association and are not in cleaning itself, is mixed in terms of different educational background, origin, age and gender. In the training program I already mentioned we started a project for Women empowerment in India some time ago. The women were mobilized out of slum areas and poorer regions. However, it turned out to be dangerous for women in India to commute very late or very early. That’s one more reason why we became strong supporters of daytime cleaning as well.

What does diversity in the work field bring you?

From my personal experience I have to say that in our office we have a great work atmosphere and a great team spirit. However, with the Corona virus came the work from home attitude, people are working a lot from home now and for new people it is very hard to find the right “we” feeling and motivation as we don’t see each other that often.

How do you promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?

Within the VDMA and within EUnited as well we are having diversified teams. It is an advantage when you work in a globalized environment. So, there is an intrinsic motivation to have people with different backgrounds. In our industry meetings, however, I meet many more men than women. The reason is most probably that engineering and machinery technology obviously looks more interesting to young men. It will be a long way and it seems to need a radical change in the mindset of people. VDMA undertook studies on Women in Engineering and is promoting technical professions for women.

What is your company doing about increasing impact?

Sustainability is a major topic in our industry. I hope this can be also a topic that motivates women to join our industry sector. We established a green cleaning label. We developed performance standards to test the efficiency of machines versus the cleaning result. We measure the level of cleanliness and the result is evaluated against the consumption of energy, water and chemicals. Furthermore, in outdoor cleaning with sweepers we have test methods like PM10 and PM2.5 (fine dust). In general, we need to look at the cleaning performance more. Still today the industry is very much based on head count. More use of data in cleaning is needed as well. Cleaning takes place in an eco system where there are many sensors and information already. The existing data can be used to make cleaning processes more efficient.

Training of Trainers, Training of Cleaners:

German Engineering Federation (VDMA) in association with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has developed an innovative Skill Development Program in “Cleaning Sector Skills for Indian Facility Management (CSSIFM). VDMA is the association of German Plant and Machinery Manufacturers and is the largest engineering industry network in Europe with 39 specialist associations comprising more than 3500 member companies. The pilot ’Training of Trainers’ of the project was launched in January 2013 and in the second phase the ‘Training of Trainees Program’ was launched, at a newly built GMR Varalakshmi Training Institute, near Dwarka and at Don Bosco Yuva Kendra New Delhi in May 2013. Since then the program has started at more locations in Hyderabad and Bangalore, in Ekta Naga and Goa with GMRVF as lead partner. Cleaning machinery and equipment manufacturers like Alfred Kaercher GmbH, Hako, Nilfisk, Roots India and Columbus, Vileda and Vermop are members of the VDMA and are actively sponsoring the projectwith their machines, equipment and training know-how.


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