Define your timeline.

Right then, the first thing I’d like you to do is take a blank piece of paper and a pen (or an iPad and stylus, if that’s your thing), and draw a wavy line from the top-left corner to the bottom-right. Go back to where you started the line and make a small dash coming from it. From here I want you to write where your life journey began – a small reference to your family. Making your way down the line continue to make small dashes marking each with significant milestones in your life where someone or something has had a major impact on your life or career. Mine looks something like this:

Image

Why is it I’m asking you to do this? Well, it’s something I’ve never thought of doing before but it was introduced to the group during the launch of Bromford’s Talent Academy by the fantastic Jeff Grout. For around half an hour Jeff took us on his journey, noting key points and his influential milestones along the way. Working within our tables we were each asked to discuss key moments of our own with one person from each group to be elected to share there’s with the room. We heard some incredible stories; funny, sad, motivational, tear-jerking – but all with a fundamental message of inspirational benefits.

So, who has been the biggest influence on me? It was somebody who’s always been there but who I’ve never really recognised as being quite so inspirational in my life until now; my sister.

From an early age my interest in Art quickly becomes apparent and it was Lynn who supported me with this, giving me tips and ideas on how to get the best out of a composition and create a sense of three-dimension through the clever use of shading. My parents would encourage me to do my homework as soon as I came in from school but instead I chose to play out until dusk and then scramble home on my BMX to get it done before bed – and it was Lynn who would often stay up with me to help get it finished. After successfully completing my GCSE’s she made a big fuss of me and celebrated by inviting me to stay over at her house and get pizza and a DVD.  Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t have the perfect of relationships (I know this story is painting a picture that’s quite the contrary) but trust me, we had our tiffs and squabbles!

After passing my A-Levels I made the decision to go on to University, our Dad wasn’t convinced by the idea but it was Lynn who persuaded him this was a good thing if I wanted to progress with a career in design. So at 22 I came out with my degree but no whiff of a job in design – was my dad right after all?

After short spells working in a supermarket and banking, Lynn prompted me to apply for a job working within Bromford. I’d never heard of them before, had no desire to work within housing and didn’t see myself working in a call centre for the rest of my life but figured that if Lynn had several years’ service already here, it can’t be such a bad place.

Yet to pass my driving test I relied on lifts, so very often Lynn would pick me up in the morning and drop me home each night (she never accepted a penny from me). When she wasn’t available she would arrange for some of her colleagues who lived close by to ferry me to and fro! Thanks to Katie and Marg for this.

Fast forward to 2012 and I’m not far off completing 9 years at Bromford – not bad for somebody with no desire to work in Housing who’d never heard of the organisation before, eh?! Working in the Customer Service Centre was a brilliant time for me. It had its ups and downs but gave me an appreciation for the frontline service of a business and how it impacts with many, many people and services within a business – especially the people we are all here for, our customers. From here I went on to work within the Asset Management Team – helping to deliver the repairs that were issued by the team in my previous role – which then leads me to where I am today; the Neighbourhoods Team.

Everybody takes risks in life; one of my biggest ones was to come into housing with no experience. So was it a wasted degree, far from it! My confidence grew, people skills matured, ability to work with others became more natural, my creativity and innovative mind honed and I’ve now taken these into my role as Project Manager today. But if it wasn’t for the influential figure of my sister I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am, nor who I am, today.

It’s been quite a journey for me so far but one with plenty more mileage in it yet and much more learning to absorb. To finish I quote Mahatma Ghandi (a favourite of Mick Kent too):

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

 

As part of our Talent Academy we’ve all been asked to share our journey, this is just the start of mine and I’d love to hear yours too…

Advertisements

Much, much more than bricks and mortar

Image

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I invited our friends and family to a momentous occasion at our local church as we made the decision to have our 22 month old daughter christened. In the week that led to it I was asked to attend a pre-christening meeting with the other parents and godparents and we talked about what baptism meant to us and why others make the decision to welcome their children into the church.

Now don’t worry, I’m not writing this to convince you to join with me in my religious beliefs but instead to think about something that we discussed that evening about our children:

“What are you going to do to support them on this journey you have put them on?”

This may not be exactly what was said but it was something along these lines. In social housing we must ask this same question of ourselves. What else do we do aside from handing over the key to the front door?

Here at Bromford our Housing Managers are geared up for trialling the use of iPads, Connect has launched, Home Rewards Club is in full swing, Bromford Deal is underway, social media is being championed and our new interactive website is on its way, all of which we feel will enrich the relationships we have with our customers. Not only this but we also feel we are creating a raft of opportunities and choice for our customers who have a greater say in how their tenancy is run and can make decisions on how they wish to contribute to their community or enrich their employment prospects. This really is all about our customers and supporting them long after they’ve put the key into the door of their new home.

Behind our bricks and mortar there really is so much more on offer and our mission statement of “creating home and communities where people really want to stay” has never rang more true.

As I conclude, I ask you to think about your approach to social housing and perhaps think a little differently about your ‘bricks and mortar’ – what if the bricks were your customers and the mortar your colleagues? For me these are the true foundations of social housing.

 

I give reference to a fab blog by my colleague Paul Taylor – please read it – it makes you think about what we do in Housing and what others perceptions of us are.