How to feed your passion for affordable housing and develop your career at the same time

How to feed your passion for affordable housing and develop your career at the same time

The single most common reason for candidates being unsuccessful in their applications for roles that are a “step-up” is a lack of strategic experience. This is particularly the case for head of service to director-level roles.

There are several ways of gaining this experience from within an organisation, including working on corporate projects and secondments. However, an often over-looked way of developing strategic experience is to become a board member.

Kate Nelson, Group Corporate Services Director at Southern Housing Group, joined the board of Thrive Homes in November 2012. Kate has found her board experience very helpful in her executive role:

“Joining the Board of a very different organisation as a co-optee has been invaluable in helping to broaden my strategic experience.

Learning about the culture, understanding the dynamics and gaining exposure to the unique views of another business has expanded my decision-making skills and capabilities.

Being involved at a strategic level uses higher level skills and I have tested my ability to contribute to the strategic debate and gain buy-in from board-level colleagues.”

Board membership offers opportunities to:

Improve your strategic (helicopter) understanding of organisations and the sector
Further develop your understanding of governance and finance
Gain exposure to different leadership styles and challenges
Cultivate your senior stakeholder relationship management skills as well as your networks
Develop your experience of leading people that you don’t directly manage
Increase your confidence in leading on areas outside of your current professional background.

Becoming a board member (even on a voluntary basis) has become increasingly competitive. A recent search exercise Altair undertook for an unpaid board member role with a small housing association resulted in 13 high quality applications.

To increase your chances of getting an interview it is important to explain why you want to become a board member for the specific organisation and demonstrate that you know about its aims and objectives. It will also be helpful to say what you can potentially bring to the role (try to limit yourself to three or five key points).

Remember that the selection panel will be looking for good operational experience and expertise as well as people who can work at a strategic level, and as part of a team.

If you are potentially interested in becoming a board member and would like a confidential discussion about how to approach the recruitment process, please email your CV to Sarah Palmer, Head of Recruitment and Interim Management at Altair: to arrange a discussion.

If you are looking for new board members and would like to discuss how Altair can help, please call Sarah on 07806 602933.