The rewarding road of housing - Steffan's story
Our second guest blog this National careers Week Friday comes from Steffan Beange, who works at emh group. Read about all the great things Steffan has done in his five years in housing, and it's no surprise he'd recommend it to anyone as a career.
After finishing my AS Levels at college, I worked a couple of jobs but I never felt that I was fulfilling my potential or meeting my need to be in a career where I could really make a difference. With no real expectations, I joined emh group as a temporary customer service advisor back in 2015. Fast forward five years and after trying my hand at most positions within the customer service team, last year I was appointed customer experience team leader. It’s a role that suits me perfectly: it allows me to work collaboratively with all areas of the organisation and means I have been lucky enough to have spent time shadowing many of them. This has enabled me to increase my wider knowledge of the organisation, greatly supporting me in my role and also in my apprenticeship.
In 2017 I enrolled onto a Level 3 diploma in team leading coupled with an Institute of Leadership and Management qualification. I was never previously aware that apprenticeships were available for existing members of staff, having always thought that it was something for school leavers, but this is definitely not the case at emh group. I’m now coming to the end of this first step, but I’ve already enrolled onto a CIH Level 4 qualification as housing is something that I now have such a keen interest in. At emh group we hold an annual in-house apprentice awards ceremony – in 2019 I was lucky enough to have been recognised with the Rising Star award.
Apprenticeships are important to emh group, and as part of our business plan we aim to have delivered 250 apprenticeships by 2023. Because of this culture of learning and talent management, I am very keen to promote apprenticeships and the opportunities that they can offer to others internally. This has had an immediate effect. Recently a cohort of eight customer service advisors enrolled onto a housing qualification, and I am thoroughly enjoying being their mentor.
As well as being passionate about apprentices, the other area I’m passionate about is mental health and wellbeing. Earlier this year I became a mental health first aider and have also recently undertaken mental toughness training. Both have been extremely beneficial, increasing my knowledge of how I can better support others and also of how I can be more aware of my own wellbeing. I feel that the sector makes a massive difference on a daily basis to individuals’ lives and is extremely proactive at the moment with promoting mental health awareness. It’s also important to recognise that roles can be quite challenging and as such it’s just as important to take care of yourself and your own wellbeing.
Housing has so many different elements and during my time at emh group I’ve been lucky enough to try lots of things: estate action days, charity football tournaments, homeless sleep outs, resident involvement groups, contractor meetings, meeting local MPs, introducing artificial intelligence… the list goes on. My biggest achievement has to be when I had the opportunity to open a new customer-facing office on the high street in a town where we have more than 5000 properties. I was heavily involved in most decisions, from the location and the layout to the team and processes. This really gave me the confidence to make the project a success in what was my first ever ‘managerial’ position.
To anyone who is currently like I was, at a crossroads and not knowing which direction to take, I would absolutely recommend that you go down the rewarding road of housing.