Since graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2009, Emma has worked at Futures Homescape, a housing association in Derbyshire. Emma joined as a graduate management trainee and has since secured a permanent position, managing over 100 properties on behalf of private owners. Emma is also currently studying for a BSc Housing at De Montfort University, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s East Midlands Board, an associate at the Housing Quality Network, won the CIH Midlands Student of the year prize in 2013 and is currently a CIH Rising Stars 2014 finalist.
“…it’s only in the last 12 months or so that I’ve really developed confidence…and feel comfortable in front of almost any audience, in any situation. And this is all down to practice and experience…”
My journey as Chartered Institute of Housing Rising Stars Finalist
I’m now well over half way through my 11 week journey as a Rising Stars 2014 finalist; Rising Stars is a completion run by Inside Housing magazine and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) to find talented young housing professionals.
Each year, entrants are asked to submit their response to the competition question and a panel whittles the entries down to just three finalists. This panel this year was made up of twleve senior housing professionals including the Head of Practice at CIH, Head of Campaigns at Shelter, Chief Executive of North Lincolnshire Homes and a CIH Governing Board member.
Finalists are then asked to complete a series of tasks and secure votes from across the housing sector; the winner is crowned at the annual CIH conference in Manchester in June.
Second time was the charm
This year is the second year that I have entered and I’m glad that second time was the charm for being shortlisted. Whilst I was more than happy with the entry I made in 2011, on reflection I don’t feel that it was the right time for me to take on the challenge of being a finalist. Back then, I had only been working in housing for 18 months and it wasn’t quite two years since I had graduated.
Just another 40 years to go!
Although I’m still in the early stages of my working life (just another 40 years to go!), I feel I’ve developed such a lot in the last couple of years and this is why I think now is the right time for me to be a Rising Stars finalist.
But what exactly do I mean?
Firstly, whilst I’ve always been quite a confident individual, it’s only in the last 12 months or so that I’ve really developed confidence as a housing professional and feel comfortable in front of almost any audience, in any situation. And this is all down to practice and experience.
Pushing me to be the best I can be
I’m fortunate to have a manager and a senior manager that encourage, support and push me to be the best I can be, by providing opportunities such as speaking at board meetings, executive team meetings, leading projects, appearing on the TV and radio, representing the organisation at external meetings etc.
The first few times it was quite nerve wracking and I spent lots of time preparing beforehand with my managers and then discussing how it went afterwards to learn from the experience, which means that now less preparation is needed and I’m more relaxed about it all.
This is certainly helping me in my bid to become a Rising Star as the competition includes a number of presentations and interviews with senior housing professionals.
Where I want to make my mark
Secondly, I’ve had time to gain a deeper understanding of the sector I work in both through practical experience and academic learning and to also figure out what it is about housing that I love and what part of the housing sector I want to make my mark on. (If you’re wondering – it’s working in partnership to develop new homes without relying on government funding.)
I’ve also been able to develop my own project ideas and test these out, which I feel makes me a more credible finalist. In fact, my entry to the competition is very much based on the day to day work I do at Futures, which I think is the strength of my entry and shows that I have more than just ideas, that I am proactively working to make them a reality.
You can’t underestimate who you know as well as what you know
Finally, I’ve got so many more contacts now compared to three years ago; you can’t underestimate who you know as well as what you know!
I’ve been overwhelmed by the kind words and offers of help I’ve received from all sorts of contacts, such as my colleagues on the CIH East Midlands Board, the Housing Quality Network, my Twitter followers, tutors and students at De Montfort University fellow housing professionals in the East Midlands old, new and forgotten and of course my lovely friends and family.
On the home straight…
So I’ve just got two of my three tasks left to complete (an Apprentice-style grilling and a Question Time session), a last push to secure as many votes as possible and then fingers crossed until the 23rd June when the Rising Stars 2014 winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Manchester.
If I win I will be spending a day shadowing the Chief Executive of CIH, editing an edition of Inside Housing magazine and invited to speak at housing events. Whether I win or not, I will continue to do my bit to tackle the housing shortage through my work at Futures, my studies at DMU, my involvement with the CIH East Midlands Board and HQN, and whatever other opportunities I can get my hands on!