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

Fortune favours the brave


After being crowned CIH and Inside Housing's Rising Star for 2016, Alice Smith guest blogs about taking risks, self-belief and why she won't waste this new opportunity.

Picture of Alice smiling My Rising Stars journey started in March this year. I saw the competition in Inside Housing magazine, and entered it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was coming to the end of a temporary secondment as a neighbourhood team manager, which I loved. It had given me the confidence and self belief to put myself out there, and - in the spirit of being brave - I thought: what have I got to lose? Secondly, I am very passionate about our sector and the difference we make to people, coupled with being ridiculously ambitious.

The whole competition was an extraordinary experience and one that I am truly grateful for. The tasks were interesting and diverse, which captured the difficult challenges that we are going to be facing both now and in the future.

Being brave and doing the right thing

In hindsight, the whole theme for me personally was reminiscent of the thought I'd had when I entered the competition: 'be brave'. Rising Stars forced me to be pushed outside of my comfort zone in the most amazing and rewarding way. It made me ask questions, it made me challenge myself and it reminded me of the huge passion that people in the sector have for making this a better place - both now and for the future. It's a sector that I'm immensely proud to be a part of.

In an ethics-based interview task, I was asked a question about pushing the boundaries of procedure to potentially 'do the right thing'. My response was that this type of thing is the reason I want to progress in my career - I want to change the things that aren't working as they should. A task in Shipley, where we presented to a group of GEM students, inspired me more so to want to be a good leader and to embrace young talent and promote housing as a career of choice. I feel that the competition has given me a great platform to go on and do this.

What winning means to me

On 27 June 2016, I really wasn't expecting to win. Of course I wanted to - as I'm sure we all did - but I had already gained so much from the experience that regardless of who won the title, no-one had lost out from the competition. When my name was announced, though, I said a very bad word in shock and saw our director of neighbourhoods cheering like he had done when Leicester had won the Premiership just a few weeks before. It was a good distraction on the long walk up to the stage!

Winning the competition means a huge amount to me, and it is an opportunity that I am certainly not going to waste. The fact that it has raised my profile in the sector is only beneficial at a time when I am looking to progress my career. The opportunity to learn from a senior mentor along with the other people that I have met in the last few months is also immensely exciting.

What's next? In the coming year, I am going to continue to be brave and grasp every opportunity available with both hands. Fortune favours the brave, and you're capable of so much more than you think - trust me, I now know!

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