Stories#067 Chantal’s facility services

#067 Chantal’s facility services

The story of Funda’s people orientation is a story of Chantal’s facility services

After 19 years, UT is more or less Chantal Hilgeholt’s second home. As Manager Facility Services, she makes sure that everyone feels at home on campus. In this interview she answers the questions of assistant professor Funda Atun, a Turkish scientist who started working at the UT just before the pandemic. A conversation about the campus vibe, Gallery and cultural differences.

Click for Dutch version

Monday 28 februari 2022 

At home on campus

Funda: ‘Hi Chantal, if I ask you to tell me something about yourself – where do you start? With who you are or with what you do?’ 

Chantal: 'Always with who I am. I am Chantal, 45 years old and mother of two wonderful sons aged 11 and 13. I got divorced a few years ago and ended up meeting my beloved boyfriend here on campus.’ 

Funda: ‘How nice, I’ve heard of that happening before! And tell me, how did you end up at UT?'

Chantal: 'As a little girl I wanted to become a secretary. With a skirt suit and high heels. Seemed great to me. But during the training I realised that it was not for me. Then I switched to facility management. That suited me much better. I like to please people. And that’s what I get to do as a facility services manager. Together with my colleagues, I make sure that everyone at UT has a nice place to work, study and meet each other.'

Funda: 'And how exactly do you do that?'

Chantal: 'We are, among other things, concerned with the buildings, the furnishing, cleaning, security, mail, logistics, and the service desks. All preconditions, you might say. I’m also involved in tenders and purchasing. And last but not least, in events.’

Funda: ‘Oh wow, so if we want to organise an event, you’re the one to call! I’m up for that, honestly… You’ve been working at UT for a lot longer than I have. Nineteen years I read! What keeps you so connected to UT?’

Chantal: ‘First of all: the campus feeling. The vibe of students, researchers, teachers and other colleagues – it’s indescribable, it’s something you have to experience. In my work I’m constantly talking to all these people – our end users. About their needs, their plans and suggestions and how we can best address those with our services.
And secondly: UT is a playground to me. With clear limits, that is. But I’m free to try things out. There is room for creativity, experimentation, and failure. We all learn from that. And so it never gets boring.’

Funda: ‘Is that typically UT or typically Dutch?’ 

Chantal: ‘Good question, I have to think about that. I don’t think it’s typically Dutch, actually. After all, the Dutch generally want to maintain the status quo and are very much like: “who’s responsible for this?”’ 

Funda: ‘Do you have any more examples of what you think is typically Dutch?’

Chantal: ‘Yes, the Dutch are very direct. Have their hearts on their sleeves. That can be a shock if you’re not used to it. And: we can also blow things out of proportion. At the same time, we are very level-headed and rational.’

Funda: ‘What I’ve noticed is that the Dutch are good at talking about problems. You guys are good at expressing diverging views.’

Chantal: ‘Yes, we love that! We even have TV shows about it – about arguments between neighbours, such as De Rijdende Rechter or clashes with large organisations, such as Kassa.’

Funda: ‘And what do you feel most responsible for?’

Chantal: ‘For the preconditions, which I mentioned earlier. There has to be a solid foundation. That’s where it all starts. But with Shaping 2030 we obviously want more than that. Think, for example, of themes such as internationalization and diversity. We have many nationalities, cultures – and therefore many different people – at UT. For example, we recently received a request for gender-neutral bathrooms. A small example, but very important. We’re going to realise that in every building.

We’ve also formulated goals when it comes to sustainability. Because we can contribute to that with our support services. And – just as important – digitalisation. We’re responsible for the lecture rooms and all the digital facilities there. Over the last few years, these have been more important than ever before. COVID has had a lot of nasty consequences, but it has put our service department on the map. Ventilation, clean workplaces, good sanitary facilities are not only preconditions, but have everyone’s attention. So our work has become visible.’

Funda: ‘That’s good to hear! On a completely unrelated note: next year my faculty  ITC will come to the campus. How do you feel about that?'

Chantal: ‘Oh, I think it's fantastic. We all wish that would have happened sooner, but these kinds of processes are time-consuming. Last year the redesign of the Gallery building was approved and it will be beautiful. My colleagues from real estate are already working on it. The former Langezijds was built in the early days of UT to house chemical technologists, did you know that?'

Funda: ‘No, not really. Are there any pictures of that?’

Chantal: ‘Definitely. If you look in our image bank, it should also include old photos of the Langezijds.'

Funda: 'I’ll have a look, I'm curious! By the way, do you have any favourite spots on campus?’

Chantal: ‘Yes. And even after all these years, I still discover new places. I really like the openness of Carré and Nanolab. That you can already see from the outside what’s happening on the inside. A few years ago we also had domes on campus. You could also see live experiments in there. I thought that was fantastic. Because we do wonderful things at UT, but they still too often stay hidden.

The Linde is another favourite of mine. When I look out the windows there, I feel proud. Then you see the green, but also all those UT students who are working out. There you can see the campus feeling.'

Funda: ‘I really like getting to know you, Chantal. Maybe we can walk around campus together sometime?'

Chantal: ‘We will! Then I can show you all the beautiful spots!’

Chantal Hilgeholt

is manager Facility Services and acting director of Campus Facility Management. Chantal has been working at UT since 2003. First as a facilities contract manager, later as a facility account manager and facility services manager. Over the past two years, she’s played an important role in making the campus 'corona-proof'.

After her MEAO education, Chantal studied Facility Management and followed a post-graduate course in Business Administration and a Business Administration course. Before coming to UT, Chantal was a contract manager at Stork, a manufacturer of industrial and electrical installations and automation systems.

Funda Atun

is an urban planner, whose research focuses on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and societal resilience, and she follows a people-first approach in her research. Funda grew up in Turkey and studied City and Regional Planning at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. In 2013, she obtained her doctorate cum laude from Politecnico di Milano. Since 2006, she has lived abroad in England, Italy, and the Netherlands. In 2019, she joined the ITC Faculty of UT as an assistant professor of Strategic Spatial Planning.