Welcome to Staff Spotlight! A place where we speak to our staff to gain insight into housing, career advice, and get inspired. We sit down with Hodan today. She tells us how you can forge a rewarding career in housing, what the benefits are in working for a housing association, and her career advice to help you flourish.
Tell us about your career journey so far:
I always wanted to work within ethnically diverse communities. I started working in Cardiff Council as a translator, specialising in Somali. It involved supporting people who were experiencing difficulties with finances and tenancy related issues. I really enjoyed the work, and knew I wanted to find a similar job when the role came to an end.
Next, I found a part-time job in Cadwyn Housing Association in customer services. Surprisingly, I developed an interest in repairs! I had the chance to work on void properties (homes which are waiting for tenants) and I didn’t see a future in any other department. As a result, I worked hard to gain knowledge and take the opportunities that came my way.
There was a short period where I applied for a role as a project manager, outside of housing associations. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan and was unsuccessful. It was disappointing, but I used the time to take a short career break. It was good to reassess what I wanted; I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to get back into housing and repairs. When a role became available with CCHA for a Technical Maintenance Assistant, I applied immediately.
What attracted you to apply for a role with CCHA?
A few years ago, CCHA put on an event in Butetown. There were food stalls, and lots of activities. I remember thinking that if they were doing things like this in the community, then it must be a good place to work! CCHA are really passionate about doing things with communities.
What opportunities are available for development in housing?
When Hayley (CCHA’s Chief Executive) joined the business, she met with every member of staff individually. I told her that I wanted to do a HNC (Higher National Certificate). That’s right – I went straight to the top! CCHA paid for three people to do a HNC through their ‘grow your own’ commitment. So far, I’ve done my HNC and my IOSH. Next, I’m planning on doing my NEBOSH.
Now, because of my HNC, I’m a building surveyor on void properties. I assess the condition of the property, make sure everything is safe, and work with tenants to make sure the property is fit for purpose when they move out. I really enjoy it. It involves problem solving and staying curious. Personally, it suits me; I need to know why and like the challenge of finding solutions.
What is it like working for a housing association?
You can develop so many skills. I started in customer services, and now I’m a building surveyor. Being a go-getter helps, too, as there’s lots of opportunities in housing that you can ask for.
I love social housing because everything I do throughout the day holds value. Some jobs I’ve had in the past, I go to work to hit targets. However, social housing isn’t like that. I feel like my time is invested well and someone directly benefits from what I do every day – the tenants, the communities, and my team.
Housing in general is a great area to be in. There’s longevity and security in this industry, and that’s important for me. Also, the pay is great and there’s flexibility with the way I work. It’s not a strict, corporate environment.
What do you enjoy about working for CCHA?
I feel like I’m trusted to do my job. There’s no micromanagement at all! It gives me the opportunity to exercise my judgement, and propose new ideas to change how we do things. My opinion is listened to, and my ability and skills are truly believed in. I like that trust is woven through everything at CCHA.
It’s also easy to approach people. There’s no hierarchy; we’re one team. Usually, the Chief Executive is in the top office and you rarely see them; here, you can approach management without being intimidated. It’s awesome.
There’s no dress code, either, which is important. Today, I’m wearing my leather joggers and my trainers! Wearing what I want allows me to turn up to work as myself which is important. I’m so much more myself here than anywhere else.
Quick Thoughts On…
Liaise with community leaders and groups established within ethnically diverse communities. Shout about what communities are doing, and use your platforms to elevate their work. Whatever progress is made, there’s always space to do better. I feel that CCHA are doing that. We’re learning and we’re being brave.
Work in housing. Do it! Not everyday is the same. It’s fun. The challenges come, but you enjoy the challenge. If you’ve got good ideas on how to make a change – to systems, for communities, or otherwise…work in housing.
You need respect as you’ll meet everyone from all walks of life. In social housing, you definitely do. If you can’t respect somebody or social groups, housing is not for you. Other things you can learn, but respect is vital.
My team really are the best. They’re colleagues and friends. We have a laugh. There’s sometimes a lot of pressure with my job, so it’s important to have colleagues that take the heaviness from it and make it fun.
Inspired to start your career in housing? Check our current vacancies and apply today!