2rd May 2012 | News
The first paid work was a Saturday job in a florists in my home town of Leeds. I loved working with flowers and I learned a lot about people - florists see customers at some of their happiest and some of their saddest times. The owner taught me how to arrange flowers properly and that?s been very useful in my home life. The first job related to the field I'm in now, was as an Admin/ Information Officer for Manchester City Council in the late 1980s. Coincidentally, the building in Ardwick is now a local office for Eastlands Homes and so I still have meetings there but I'm glad to say it's been fully refurbished.
How did you get your current role?
When Eastlands Homes undertook its second housing stock transfer in 2009, it virtually trebled in size and the role was created to support the needs of the growing business. I missed the first advert but luckily for me they were unable to recruit successfully first time around. I had done a very similar job in another organisation but the role at Eastlands was bigger and more challenging and being the first person in a new post, I had the opportunity to help shape it, which is always an exciting position to be in.
Describe your role within the organization?
Corporate Services covers many of the support and improvement functions. I have four separate team strands covering governance, business improvement and communications, executive support and employment support. Eastlands supports residents to become ready for work and so we offer a wide range of apprenticeships, placements and give CV assistance. I also lead on risk management, health and safety, business continuity, data protection and data governance..
What gives you a sense of achievement?
I've felt very proud of the way the different teams within Corporate Services have developed and have become increasingly important to the success of the business. Team members have always been enthusiastic about developing their skills and their role and have also been very supportive to each other, even if they work in a different discipline. It's a good feeling to see a team that has grown in confidence and ability and which the rest of the organisation respects and understands.
What is the best thing about being a quality manager?
Being a quality manager only works really well if everyone else understands what you are trying to achieve. That can only be the case if corporate improvement initiatives are supported from the top. We've worked hard at Eastlands to deliver the improvement message and to work alongside operational colleagues in its delivery. The support and understanding across all departments and at all levels makes the role really pleasurable.
And the worst?
Sometimes feeling like a professional nag - and worse still, knowing that you've got a real talent for it!
What moments stand out in your career?
The times I've enjoyed the most have been when we've celebrated our residents' and young people's successes. Every year, the Airport Group - a group of 14 like-minded housing associations - holds a Young Flyers event where we recognise the talents of young residents in volunteering work , learning and development, enterprise and apprenticeships. Last year I was Doctor Who's assistant at our annual residents' Fun and Feedback day and I never expected to be sharing centre stage with a dalek!
More recently, winning the support of some great managers has been the biggest inspiration for me. I didn't expect to find strong leaders outside of the military but I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of leadership in industry.
What are the biggest challenges facing quality managers?
There will always be challenges in terms of time and priorities but these are minimal if there's the right level of support and understanding and a collective appetite for improvement. Fortunately, Eastlands Homes has all of those otherwise the job wouldn't be do-able.
What's your motto at work?
It takes much more energy to be miserable and not to enjoy what you're doing than it does to take pleasure in it. I love the people I work with and I enjoy what I do so it?s easy to have a laugh along the way.
What advice would you give to someone new to the role?
Put a lot of time and investment into building relationships with people you?ll be working with - not just your immediate team. If you understand their needs and priorities you are far more likely to help them and the business improve. And always maintain a sense of humour.