Simon Senior has worked in the Housing industry for 25 years, he has worked his way up from PATH trainee to Director level. Here Simon gives us 5 minutes of his time to explain his route into housing and why he still loves the industry he’s worked in for so long.
What career did you want when you were 18?
When I was 18, I’d just finished college studying Sports Coaching and Community Development. I was working with my dad in construction and despite the hard work, I really enjoyed helping build new commercial stock in central London (including Royal Mint, Minster Court and even a Hilton Hotel).
When did you decide that you wanted a career in housing?
I was 20 years old, I enjoyed the construction sector and knew a few people who worked in housing. I’d also intervened for parents of friends who had housing problems, often with good results. So, I was already thinking of giving housing management a try.
Why did you get into housing?
My sister, Valerie worked for Hexagon Housing Assn many moons ago and said I would be a good fit for housing because I was a good communicator and hated injustice. I wasn’t sure I definitely wanted a housing career, but thought I’d give it a try.
What did you do to find a role in housing?
My sister told me of the PATH* scheme which helped provide resources and development tools to enable access for ‘BME’ people into management roles. I was taken on by Peabody Trust under an amazing guy named Stewart Grant – after a year of intensive training in all areas of housing, maintenance, finance, and development I was fully inducted and within weeks started managing Peabody housing estates in Central London. It was a great experience that I wish still existed for others as I meet and frequently recruit fantastic people who just need mentoring and guidance towards their potential.
What do you enjoy most in your current position?
I currently work as a consultant covering all areas of housing, but mainly providing service improvement and change management. I recently spent over 4 years as a Director of Home Ownership and Leasehold for TVHA, so it’s enjoyable to be able to work with new teams and on wider-ranging projects. I like the freedom to approach or be approached by any organisation and have the ability to go in and really make an impact that changes the way staff behaves, how processes work, and in some cases how the organisation is perceived by its residents and public. But I guess the aspects I enjoy most in housing are improving communities and mentoring/developing staff. When people improve they share the positive aspects and that’s infectious in a good way.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
People who know me probably see me smiling most days. I guess the most challenging part of being in housing is seeing bad practices in the office impact residents in their homes. Many landlords I work with work tirelessly to stamp out poor practices in the office. However, there are still instances where we as a sector could do better, so the drive to improve continues.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get into this industry?
The great thing about working in the housing sector is you will often be able to help those ‘most in need’ directly or indirectly even if you work in a non-housing role. This is a sector where you can build multi-talented teams who really help communities and make a change that can benefit residents and their families for years to come. There are some great leaders right now in housing, with a focus on recruiting new talent. When I joined TVHA one of the main reasons was because Geeta Nanda was CEO and she proved to be a great role model. Whilst there and at lots of other workplaces I’ve met truly amazing people, both in the office and in our communities. If you can find a mentor – do so. They can be invaluable in guiding your wider career options and help provide perspective when you face obstacles and challenges in the workplace.
*PATH – Positive Action Training in Housing
Huge thanks to Simon for participating in this article!
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