I’ve been in post for almost three months now, and thought it time to take stock, reflect and set out my thoughts for the near future.
Firstly, I want to start by telling you all a bit more about me. I live in Barry but was brought up in social housing at the top of the valleys. Before joining CCHA, I was Director of Finance and IT at Rhondda Housing. I qualified as an accountant around 30 years ago and later graduated from Warwick Business School with an Executive MBA. I started my working life with the former Gwent County Council and have since worked for organisations including the Audit Commission, Standard Chartered Bank, National Audit Office, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Welsh Government. Outside of work I am a complete music-fanatic, and it might surprise you to know that I’m also in a band, specialising in rock covers.
My move into the chief executive role has been fairly smooth, having already spent four and half years as deputy chief executive at CCHA. In that role I was able to take a bird’s eye view of our performance across the whole business. However, what has struck me in my first few months has been the breadth of my new role. I thought I might be dealing with conflicting priorities but the single fact we put tenants at the centre of all decisions, means to date I have had nothing of the kind. And really that is all it comes down to; “what is best for our whole tenant base?”
The brilliant Corporate Leadership Team has made my transition to chief executive so much easier. We are blessed with a team, which Hayley built so brilliantly, which has utter togetherness. I have worked at a senior level at a number of different organisations but have never before been part of team where we share an absolute common goal around improving services for tenants and agree on the best way to achieve that. We have good, robust debates on issues, but we always agree on a common outcome for the benefit of tenants.
The next six months
My priorities for the next six months are to focus on the areas that you are telling us you are not happy with.
Firstly, our repairs service has built up a backlog of jobs and you are having to wait longer for routine repairs to be completed. Our Director of Assets, Jonny Jones has been overseeing this area, working with our newly appointed Head of Repairs, Chris Vitalini and the team to reduce the backlog. This is an area of focus for me to ensure we bring our backlog down in a sustainable manner.
I am pleased that one of my first concrete decisions was to temporarily increase the resources in the M Team to try and clear this backlog. When we carry out a repair our customer satisfaction is really high. It’s the time it takes for us to get there that understandably leaves tenants feeling dissatisfied. I want to try and ensure we carry out all our repairs promptly, so that you are happy.
The second area of dissatisfaction is around estates services. We have already done several key things to improve this. Our open and transparent approach to unpicking service charges is nearly complete, which leaves us in a much stronger position when it comes to knowing our estates and the services which need to be delivered in communal areas. This is just the first step!!
Our second step is making sure we deliver those services well, at the right time, and for the right price for tenants. We have completely changed the approach where our services are now delivered by our brilliant Spaces and Places team. We now need to look at how those teams can ensure we deliver value, timeliness quality, and consistency of services.
I hope that gives you a flavour of my priorities over the next few months. I am still pinching myself to have the honour to lead CCHA and ensure that we are doing the best we can for you. It is an immense, personal privilege!!