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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Leadership in a crisis

26 May 2020, digital masterclass

About the event


What makes a leader great in a crisis? Is it forethought, planning, good management, great communication skills? Or simply charisma?

CIH and the Institute of Leadership Management recently published a report on leadership in housing, highlighting the potential looming capability gap. Now more than ever, housing leaders need to be agile and resilient to successfully manage sudden change and to have skills to communicate with a diverse range of stakeholders. An investment into the future of leadership in housing is becoming increasingly important. Click here to view the report.

As organisations and teams work flat-out to respond to the ever-changing challenges of the current outbreak, find out what you need to be a true leader. Join former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE, Aspire Housing's group chief executive Sinéad Butters and CIH’s chief executive Gavin Smart for our exclusive digital masterclass Leadership in a crisis.

Our exciting interactive online platform will ensure you have all the opportunities to participate in our first digital masterclass; to listen, question, share, learn and real-time network with speakers and fellow professionals.

Digital masterclass programme

Feedback from our first virtual summit has been fantastic, with attendees especially surprised at the revolutionary networking and Q&A functionality of our new platform.

With a number of virtual summits planned for the future, we want to give you the opportunity to experience first-hand exactly what a CIH virtual event has to offer.

With that in mind, we’re offering free delegate places on our upcoming digital masterclass. Not only will you hear from three inspirational speakers on their thoughts on what characteristics set great leaders apart, but you’ll also get to join our networking lounge and get interactive in our question and answer sessions.

We are delighted to bring you ways of engaging and sharing ideas that have never been tried in the housing sector before, while maintaining the breadth and quality of speakers you expect from CIH.

2.30pm Delegate registration and virtual networking

3.00pm Welcome and introductions by Gavin Smart

3.20pm Leadership in a crisis by Nazir Afzal

3.40pm Leadership in the housing sector by Sinead Butters

4.00pm Q&A

4.30pm Networking and discussions in the lounge

5.00pm Close

We are committed to bringing cutting-edge learning and interactive collaborations and networking opportunities to you in the comfort of your own home

About our speakers

Nazir Afzal OBE

“Nazir Afzal’s enemies are a diverse lot.“

The New York Times

Nazir Afzal OBE was Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England. Most recently, he was chief executive of the country’s police and crime commissioners. During a 24-year career, Nazir has prosecuted some of the most high profile cases in the country and led nationally on several legal topics including violence against women and girls, child sexual abuse and honour-based violence.

In the north west he had responsibility for more than 100,000 prosecutions each year. His prosecutions of the so-called Rochdale grooming gang, former BBC presenter Stuart Hall and hundreds of others drove the work that has changed the landscape of child protection. He is chair of Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale and in 2017 was appointed to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Sinéad Butters, MBE DUniv

Sinéad is Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing, which also comprises Staffordshire’s largest independent apprenticeship provider PM Training and social regeneration charity Realise, and holds a Non-Executive Director role at Goram Homes.

As Chair of national housing network PlaceShapers, Sinéad has been instrumental in uniting members around shared values as a voice for change.

In recent years, Sinéad has received an MBE for services to housing, two honorary doctorates for work supporting communities, was recognised as a Top 3 ‘24Housing Power Player’, named ‘Chief Executive of the Year’ in the 24Housing Awards, and has seen Aspire receive the Queens Award for Enterprise; a first for housing.


Gavin Smart

Gavin Smart CIHCM is chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing

Gavin joined CIH in 2012 as director of policy and practice and was made deputy chief executive in 2014 and chief executive in December 2019.

Prior to joining CIH, Gavin was assistant director of research and futures at the National Housing Federation from 2004 to 2012. From 1999 to 2004 he held research roles at the then-Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, before which he was a research officer at NHF.

Born in Cardiff, Gavin studied public administration at the Polytechnic of Wales. He then gained an MSc in sociology at the University of Bristol, where he worked as a research associate on projects for the Department of the Environment, Housing Corporation, Scottish Office and local authorities.

Gavin lives with his family in Northamptonshire and when work allows enjoys running, watching rugby and walking his oversized rescue dogs.

What can you expect at a CIH digital masterclass?

On arrival at the digital masterclass, you will enter the Networking Lounge, a virtual space with a main stage and tables of six delegates. Select a table. Here you will have the opportunity of getting to know each other, starting to share ideas and knowledge. Each table uses video, audio and chat to allow you to interact naturally in real time. You can move around the tables to make new contacts and share ideas, all the while getting the full benefit of the presentation from the main stage.

Please ensure that you are in a noise-free environment; we recommend using a microphone and speaker headset.

Booking information

How to book

This digital masterclass is free to attend, so simply register your place using our dedicated booking form. Please note bookings will close at 12pm on Tuesday 26 May.

When you register you will be sent a booking acknowledgement. This will be followed up with instructions on how to join the digital masterclass.

Please do not share the links with your colleagues.

If you have any questions, please contact or call 024 7685 1722.

Attendance list

Networking with fellow housing professionals is one of the key benefits of CIH events. Your name, job title and organisation will be included on our attendance list, which will be sent to all attendees.

If you do not wish for your details to be included on this list, please email before 19 May 2020 with the name of the event, and your request to be excluded from the list.


We are delighted to bring you a new promotional branding product as part of our digital masterclass. We have opportunities to create sponsorship adverts, branding opportunities, and real time networking as part of our exclusive new virtual events.

For further information please email or download our media pack.



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