Samantha West, Commercial Director, VINCI Facilities
My Name is Samantha West and I am a transgendered Sector Commercial Director for VINCI Facilties.
My role is responsible for £125m of business in the public sector including maintenance to Schools, hospitals, stadia, rail, corporate estates and government offices.
I have worked in the construction and Facilities management industries for 30 years, during most of which I lived a dual life, outwardly as Ian, Director, Husband, Father and inwardly as Samantha.
Following many years of denial in 2016 I made the decision to become Samantha and transition to become female. A traumatic move out of the family home, to somewhere new where I could live in my new identity. At this time Vinci were working on a fairness, inclusion and respect project, to which Ian became a member. this was instrumental in my decision to communicate to my work colleagues about my change reaching over 400 people and receiving very supportive responses.
Brave was a common word.
I had my first transgender operation and had my first day at work as Samantha in November 2017. I started the first ever LGBT+ networking group in VINCI
I then helped write and featured in VINCI’s best practice booklet on inclusive workplaces. To try an expand the message I joined an industry working group which I helped drive forward called LGBT+ in Facilities Management.
I appeared several articles. I wrote an article in the FM World magazine about my journey to inspire people that it was ok to be transgender and could still be a success in the work place. I was interviewed by People Management magazine who produced an article regarding transgender being marginalised at work and what can be done about it I then wrote others for the All Saints church in Berkhamsted, The RICS and Reader Digest
I ran a national LGBT plus event in VINCI simultaneously in London Birmingham and Manchester. Following this I hosted the first networking event for LGBT+in Facilities Management in London at which I spoke publicly about my journey. I then spoke at LGBT property professionals event and more recently the Women in Facilities Management annual conference. This last was so special to me and the response was amazing. I then had my second operation. In January received nomination at Leaders in Diversity awards. In March last year I had my final major gender reassignment surgery
I have talked openly and honestly about my journey to help others with two basic messages.
- You can be yourself and you will be respected included and happy
- When kindness and love takes over anything is possible
I also had a message to business’s that great benefits will come to that embrace inclusivity. People perform better and remain loyal and that we need to remove unconscious bias.
Finally I received an award for ‘Profound Impact’ to the facilities management industry in November 2019.