We are Pobl Group. We’ve been using those four words for two weeks, a clear statement that the merger of Seren Group and Grwp Gwalia has completed creating a single group managing over 16,000 homes, employing 2,500 and supporting over 9,000 people.
Our staff have celebrated Pobl Group’s inception by sharing pobl-themed selfies and videos under the hashtag #wearepobl and our new staff magazine will adopt the same name.
If you didn’t know yet pobl is the Welsh word for people, so this immediate collective ownership of our new identity is particularly significant. We have created a new team, working together to make a difference and deliver for our customers. When I stop to reflect on the journey to Pobl Group, it’s that spirit of collaboration that shines brightest. We are Pobl Group because we have already been working together for almost two years to create a new group that is defined by its commitment to people.
The journey began with open minds. Early conversations between leaders of Seren and Gwalia identified common values, ambitions and the potential for future collaboration. Even at this early stage when merger was one of many potential paths to choose, we shared information and established a collaborative working group of officers. Our up-front investments in due diligence, expert advice and close working with our regulator have and will continue to prove invaluable.
From the start, we communicated openly with our staff and boards, encouraged conversation and invited challenge because the most cynical perspectives offer great insight. The engagement and influence of our non-executives has been vital throughout. We’ve had lively discussion at monthly board meetings and I have had hundreds of conversations in person and by ‘phone that have ensured non-execs views, concerns and expertise has shaped the process and my own thinking.
That open communication has been invaluable to me and has ensured that we have moved together on the journey, such that Pobl Group begins life with first rate governance in place and shared excitement for our future. Our communications, always clear and purposeful have sought to build that positive collective spirit, always answering the ‘why?’, outlining the common benefits, the big picture wins and as such inviting both non-execs and our staff to think of We, rather than Me.
As a leader, the journey to merger can feel like a roller-coaster ride. The excitement of the early acceleration is followed by rises and dips. At the top, we can see all that is around us, a vast expanse of opportunity. In the dips, as the next long climb beckons your stomach can flip. The temptation is to get off and return to the comfort of what we were, before the ride began.
But once you’ve seen that horizon and with the team around you, established it’s the right place to go, getting off would be a dereliction of both leadership and ambition. It’s hard work that gets you up the climbs and committed, talented people, or pobl, who pull together to see that work through. That team effort is now focused on ensuring our ambitions, to create more homes, services and jobs are delivered for the customers and communities we serve.