Five minutes with Darren | News

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Five minutes with Darren

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1) What does your role involve?

I am responsible for managing our housing management services. This ranges from: our call centre, rent collection, lettings and managing our estates. Our residents are at the heart of everything we do and their safety and wellbeing is our priority - providing the best possible resident experience has never been more important.

As a result of the pandemic, we’ve adapted some of the ways we operate. We have been holding online resident group meetings as well as ‘one to one’ resident meetings. This is part of our plans to make our services more digital, enhance the resident experience and ensure we are operating in a Covid secure manner.

Rent arrears during the pandemic have remained stable so far in comparison to the same time last year. The good news is that the arrears are below the predicted percentage increase of above 4%. Despite this, we know this is a difficult time and there will be financial worries for some of our residents. We encourage residents to contact us as soon as possible if they are struggling or think that their circumstances may change. We want to help and there are numerous ways for us to do so.

Although our offices remain closed, we began restoring services as soon as it was safe to do so and of course in line with Government legislation. Most of our services are now restored. Our Estate Pride team has resumed full grounds maintenance and cleaning services whilst our Neighbourhood Team has restarted site visits and estate inspections. This ensures our estates are safe, clean and well maintained.


2) What skills are required for the job?

Understanding residents needs and building relationships with them is fundamental to the role. Associated with this, being people orientated, customer focussed and having a strong grasp of Housing Legislation is necessary.

You must also be able to think both strategically and operationally. For example, I could be attending a board meeting presenting our rent strategy for the next year and then dealing with a complex safeguarding case where a resident requires support. No two days are the same!


3) What do you most enjoy about your role?

Following on from the last answer, I enjoy how varied the role is along with the rewarding feeling I get knowing we are making a difference to our residents’ lives. This has been particularly pleasing during the pandemic - I am proud of the way our organisation has adapted and evolved.


4) What’s your favourite thing about working for the Shepherds Bush Housing Group?

I am glad to work alongside colleagues who put residents at the heart of everything they do. We may not get things right all the time, but we will always do our best to be there for our residents and endeavour to provide the best service possible.

Additionally, due to our size, we are close enough to our residents to really see the impact the strategic decisions we make have on the delivery of our services. This enables us to offer a diverse range of services which help build communities – we’re much more than a landlord.

From a personal development perspective, my time at SBHG has helped develop my career. I started my career at SBHG began as manager of the Rent department. From there I became Head of housing, where I helped implement the housing management IT system. After that, I became the Director of Resident Experience. I do not think I would have had the same breadth of opportunities in a larger organisation.


5) Do you have any advice for aspiring Director with customer facing roles?

Gain as much experience as possible by doing different roles and be prepared to step out your comfort zone. This will help build your expertise.

Additionally, it’s important to learn lessons from those who do things well even if they are not in your industry - I gain ideas from friends who work in customer facing roles outside of the sector.

Finally, if you work hard and do the right things, you will be given opportunities and progress.


6) What is your favourite season?

Cricket season! It’s the best time of the year!


7) Which decade do you love the most and why?

The 70s as that’s when the best David Bowie albums were created.


8) If you were hosting a dinner party, which famous guests would you invite and why?

I would invite Jimi Hendrix because I play guitar and he’s my favourite guitarist. I would also invite Steve Coogan as I’m a big fan of his - his impressions would be entertaining.


9) What is your go to karaoke song?

I do a mean rendition of Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds’.


10) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My parents always said: “work hard, be nice to people and you will do well.”

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