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

My CIH journey: the executive route


Felix Okene, chartered member and director of operations at Mace Housing Co-operative, talks us through the different roles and challenges that led him to where he is today.

Image of scrabble boardPerhaps the best way to begin narrating my journey will be to thank Judy Waugh (director of membership and education at CIH), Greg Falvey (chief executive of Colchester Borough Homes) and Vanessa Howell (head of professional standards at CIH) for accepting me and finding me worthy to be honoured with the CIH title.

My story

As a young student from Nigeria I wanted to complete my studies and return home but the series of military coups in Nigeria - notably 1983 and 1985 - dissuaded me from returning home as the country became very unstable.

After graduating from Brunel University with an MBA in 1988, I joined the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as the finance and administration manager, playing a key role in the management of the community programmes aimed at young and elderly unemployed residents in the borough.

In March 1991, I joined London Borough of Barking and Dagenham as administration manager to the Direct Labour Organisation (DLO). I was responsible for the management of the repairs and maintenance of the council properties and managing the DLO’s budget, ensuring that relevant financial decisions were properly recorded and implemented.

Although, it was a very challenging role, I was not enjoying it because I was too far removed from the 'front line'. I wanted to get closer to the management of the tenants.

Moving on

In October 1997, I joined Mace Housing Co-operative as a housing manager, responsible for lettings, allocations and property management. The role was my 'dream job' and I am still working at Mace Housing Co-operative all these years later, as director of operations.

I remember the first time I handed the key to a man who had been homeless for two years due to a breakdown in his marriage - the look on his face sums up the whole reason why I chose housing management as a career path. I was so happy that I made a positive change in the life of another - this is my driving force. 

I have a passion to see the reduction of homelessness and am working tirelessly to ensure that the needs of the homeless and socially excluded people are not ignored. I participate in various activities to raise additional funds for securing some of our projects for the homeless such as computer and literacy skill sessions, job searches and placements.

The executive route to chartered membership

CIH's executive route to chartered membership worked perfectly for me. It provided me with the flexibility I needed, without affecting my work or family commitments - and I was able to achieve it in my own time and pace.

Being a chartered member has given me so much confidence and satisfaction in my role, and I feel very honoured that I have been accepted as a successful operator in my professional role. Having chartered CIH membership is like a beautiful, sweet-tasting cherry on my cake - it's splendid!

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  • What an amazing journey and commitment in tackling homelessness.

    Ekhuemelo, Anthony

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