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

Meeting Caroline Leech, CIH member champion


This week Rebecca Clarke, regional manager met one of our member champions for the East, Carolyn Leech, service excellence business lead at Thrive Homes.

So who is Carolyn Leech and how did she get here?

I like others “fell into housing” back in 2005 and have been a loyal CIH member since 2006/7. I started my career working in the banking and insurance sectors and was working for the Boys Brigade before seeing a role with Dacorum Borough Council being advertised. It was with the housing team supporting voids, repairs and maintenance among other things. Right from those early days I realised that housing was a career I could do and could be really passionate about.

Funnily enough my favourite subject at school was sociology, but when leaving education, I had no idea about the vastness of opportunity offered by professions like the housing sector, that is until I applied for the role with Dacorum and to my surprise secured it. So yes, I stumbled across housing, but I would never look back and I have looked to build my career and develop myself ever since within the sector.

What do you love most about your job?

That’s easy! No two days are the same; housing is so much more than just providing a home for someone. When I worked in finance, it was pretty much the same thing day in, day out. Since coming into housing I have met some amazing colleagues, but even more important than that some amazing customers. I have worked in so many different departments and had so much progression on top of genuinely helping people. I don’t think there are many roles or sectors out there that can offer all of that and I just love it!

So why have you decided to become a member champion?

For me, it is a simple answer again; I want to give something back. The Chartered Institute of Housing has helped and supported me ever since I started in housing. When I began my career a CIH qualification was vital to your role in housing. It helped me to understand the sector, my role, but also the technical details which have been so important and useful to me along the way.

I think one of the most valuable things on top of this knowledge though, has been the networks, the real sense of community and belonging that CIH provides. It is easy when working in housing to sometimes feel a bit lonely and think that your problems are unique. Getting your head down and not looking around enough can be something I think we are all guilty of. I have met some excellent and inspiring mentors and role models, but also peers that have supported me through projects. CIH has enabled and encouraged me to think differently and really challenge myself every step of the way. From the moment I gained my Level 3 qualification, I aspired to go further and now hold chartered membership which always pushes me to do more and continuously develop myself.

It is so important that we focus on ourselves and our own personal and professional development. Yes CIH offers undoubtable benefits to our employers, but those skills, those qualifications, those people you meet, they are all your own. These can be taken with you as you progress and continue to invest in your housing career.

I think you can tell from the way I am talking, that I am incredibly proud to be part of CIH and now feel it is the time to give something back to other members and people who are entering the sector. This is an opportunity that really excites me!

What can we expect to see from you as a member champion?

I want to champion the value and importance of being a CIH member. I hope that through meeting other housing professionals, they will be able to see the real benefit CIH membership has had for me and my career.

I am looking forward to working with you [Rebecca Clarke, regional manager] and the rest of the team, going out and speaking to people and spreading the word both at Thrive but also locally. I dare say you will be seeing me at a few events in the coming months where I can’t wait to meet you so don’t be shy.

If anyone wants to know more about me, my role or my CIH journey then please do get in touch, it would be great to hear from you!

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