Why be a CIH President?
Former CIH President Geraldine Howley explains why the past twelve months have been so worthwhile.
Why be a CIH President? After the year we’ve just had as a sector you may think I’d struggle to answer the question, but my response comes easily – it’s been an amazing experience and a privilege to take on such an important role at such a critical time. On becoming President I knew 2016 was CIH's centenary year but the significance of our one hundred year history and heritage grew exponentially for me with the events of 2015.
What unites us?
The events of the last year have meant that our purpose as a sector has been much debated in many places and a bystander might ask: "What is it that unites you? Are your differences too great to have a shared purpose?" For me the answer is profoundly simple. I believe that we have a clear purpose – to provide housing. Housing that helps people, creates communities and changes lives. Housing that allows people to put down roots and enables them to grow.
I have travelled across the country and indeed the world to meet members and see the fantastic work we do - it’s been humbling and incredibly inspiring. It is moving to see the work that you, our members, do every day and the impact it has on the lives of the people we work with.
Future-proofing the sector
Being your president has offered me the opportunity to play my part in promoting the housing sector, a not insubstantial challenge in the last year! By using the profile and presence of the Presidential role I have been able to promote the passion and commitment that our sector embodies. I have been given the opportunity to shape the future of CIH by sitting on the governing board, an opportunity I've found so valuable that I have successfully applied to continue in this role.
CIH believes growth through high quality, life long education and learning is vital to the profession as a whole. Developing a network of proficient, committed and highly skilled professionals is what we need in order to 'future-proof' our sector. Let's pay attention to where the next generation of housing professionals is coming from, as 50 per cent of our profession is set to retire in the next five to10 years.
Working with the CIH team, we launched 'the big conversation' back in March, offering new professionals an event specifically aimed at kick-starting their careers. We need to do everything we can to ensure that young people see housing as an exciting career option that they should actively choose – whether that’s as a trainee housing officer, a construction apprentice or a policy advisor.
We need talented accountants, marketing specialists, HR staff, surveyors and legal advisers to see the value of working in housing, too! Housing is both a rich source of career opportunity and purposeful work in equal measure.
The Presidency has offered me so many opportunities - the ability to see best practice across the UK through a whistle-stop tour of conferences across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, meeting your regional boards and even boards in Hong Kong and Canada!
It’s allowed me to champion the cause of young people that I am so passionate about and debate these matters with senior figures. It’s given me fresh insight into the issues our sector faces - especially in such a challenging year - and allowed me to champion your interests. It's been both arduous and invigorating and by knowing first hand what is involved, I will readily help the Presidents of the future, as well as continuing my Presidential theme of young people throughout my career.
Thank you CIH and thank you CIH members.