What a difference a year makes! This time last year, we were busy developing plans for HACT’s 60th birthday celebrations. In February, we hosted a Board awayday where we shared our plans and were given illuminating and insightful feedback from our Board.
Of course, in March, those plans were put on ice. But the close working relationship we’ve developed over the last three years with our Board has continued to flourish.
Boards play a critical role for charitable organisations. For HACT, our Board not only provides an insight into the pressures faced by social housing organisations but also gives us an opportunity to broaden our engagement and utilise the varied skillsets and industry backgrounds of our Trustees.
Last year, for example, we welcomed Mary Gibbons, Rachel Honey-Jones, Anastasia Odugbesan and Charlie Norman onto the Board, ensuring we have a 6-5 gender split (female-male) with our Board members.
Mary is Chief Executive of CHP, a housing association based in Essex. She joined CHP in August 2018 from Hundred Houses Society, a housing association in Cambridge where she also served as Chief Executive. Prior to this, Mary has held senior positions including Housing Director and Executive Director of Strategy and Support at Swan Housing Association.
Rachel is Head of Community Regeneration at Newydd HA. Outside of her day job she is also a Board Member at Merthyr Valley Homes – Wales’ first tenant and employee mutual – a CIH Cymru Housing Futures Panel Member and was a Finalist in 24 Housing’s Young Leaders 2015.
Charlie, who joined the Board in November, is Chief Executive of Mosscare St Vincents and leads the GMHP work on health and social care. She has worked in housing for 30 years, with a background in community and co-operative development, neighbourhoods and regeneration. Until recently she was the Vice-Chair of PlaceShapers. Mosscare St Vincents were one of the first housing associations to sign up to the Board Charter.
Anastasia provides us with an extra-sectoral perspective, coming, as she does, from an investment banking background, initially in New York, where she was Assistant Vice President Wealth and Asset Management Audit at the Bank of America. After moving to London, she’s worked as a Vice President in Internal Audit at Barclays Bank before taking on her new position at UBS. She has extensive international experience in investment banking, private banking products, risks, controls and regulations.
She is one of three Board members we’ve recruited who can provide us with a perspective from outside the social housing sector. Davida Johnson, who has extensive experience in the petrochemicals sector, provides us with executive level expertise in marketing and strategic development, is one of the others.
The third, Shaun Holdcroft, who joined our Board in November, used to work in social housing before moving into his current role as Operations Director at Legal and General Affordable Homes. He has a track record of creating strong performing teams with a focus on customer experience and the role of technology in the sector. Not only does Shaun bring his social housing expertise to our
Board, he also brings with him knowledge about how new organisations in our sector such as L&G Homes are pioneering new approaches to social housing in the future.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our Board has played an important role in supporting our executive team, enabling us to take strategic decisions at pace, informed and shaped by their experience.
One development has been the creation of a number of agile, small sub-committees, focused on different aspects of our business. One, for example, has been informing our brand development process. Another met earlier this week to discuss our R&D pipeline, helping us test some of our ideas and challenge our assumptions across a range of exciting new products and services we’re developing.
As we get to the end of the year, I’d like to thank our board for their commitment and support during this most difficult and challenging of years. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we pioneer ideas and change in the social housing sector in 2021.