'Being part of CIH's presidential team is a brilliant chance to make a difference'
As the search to find CIH’s new vice president begins we spoke to current vice president Alison Inman to find out what she’s enjoyed most about the role and more.
What have you enjoyed most about your time as vice president?
It’s been a fantastic opportunity to meet so many housing professionals, to see first-hand the great work that is going on in the sector and above all to help bring people together and drive the work that CIH does forward.
CIH is a unique organisation because it brings together professionals from across the housing world. There are members in every corner of the UK, and even further afield in places like Canada and Hong Kong. They come from housing associations, local authorities, ALMOs and from across the private sector.
That diversity is really important and there’s something very powerful about that collective voice. Being vice president gives you a really important role in that community and carries with it a responsibility for helping to bring those people together and to make the connections which are so crucial to doing great work and driving the sector forward.
Being CIH vice president means that you are representing the membership but it it does let you pursue a passion. So for me that’s meant doing work on how we bring through the next generation of housing leaders and how we change the perception of social housing tenants.
Do you need to be a senior leader to be vice president?
Leadership comes in many forms and my own very varied experience is a testament to that! I’ve worked in local government and the voluntary sector, been involved in governance housing associations and ALMOs at various levels and was honoured to be Chair of the National Federation of ALMOs. I am currently a Board Member at TPAS and Colne Housing Society and am co-founder of SHOUT, the social housing campaign group.
I think a certain level of experience in housing is essential but being a chief executive or a director is certainly not a pre-requisite.
What skills and qualities do you think you need to be CIH vice president?
Well I think you need to be prepared to do lots of talking and listening.
You have to be the sort of person who wants to keep learning about housing, who really believes in driving the profession forward.
You also have to remember that you’re speaking as a representative of CIH and while your opinion is important and you’re not just a mouthpiece, you’re also not in the role to further your own agenda.
But the most important thing you need is passion about the work that housing professionals do and the desire to make a difference.
If you have those things and you are a CIH member then you are eligible.
Oh, and you need to be good at remembering names!
Is being vice president a big drain on your time?
There is a commitment but it doesn’t have to take over your life.
To an extent being vice president is what you make of it. It opens up a huge amount of opportunities to you - you’ll find that you get lots of invitations to events and speaking opportunities.
The more of these you can do the more chance you’ll get to reach more people and to make a difference.
It’s also important to remember that being vice president is a direct route to becoming president which is a fantastic privilege, but it does involve more of a time commitment and some specific responsibilities throughout the year.
But I’ve found that the vice presidency has been ideal preparation for this and you have the existing president to help you through – Julie has already started helping me prepare for next year.
Are you excited to become president?
Yes, absolutely. I’m really looking forward to becoming president.
I am a passionate believer in the work of CIH and the housing profession and the difference we make to people’s lives.
What would you say to anyone thinking of nominating themselves?
As long as you are passionate and prepared to put in the time and effort then go for it; it’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity.
Vice presidential nominations are open until Thursday June 1.