18 May 2023

Mentor spotlight - Niall Sheridan

In this new series by CIH Northern Ireland, we're sitting down with some of our mentors to discover more about them.

Mentoring is widely recognised as one of the most effective ways in which you can develop. Our mentoring programme is designed to support you in your career to help identify relevant development opportunities. Set goals and objectives, build confidence, gain knowledge, learn new skills and build strong relationships with other professionals.

Today, we're sitting down with Niall Sheridan CIH Northern Ireland board member and chair of CIH Northern Ireland advisory board.


How long have you worked in the housing sector?

I have had a lifelong career in social housing commencing in 1983. My first job in housing was as a housing assistant with Fold Housing Association working in a small team managing sheltered housing schemes for older people. Each member of the team had a small patch of eight or nine sheltered housing schemes, and we were individually responsible for interviewing and appointing applicants, assisting the management team with allocations and all aspects of the housing management function – the quintessential generic housing officer.


Why have you chosen a career in the housing sector?

I consider myself an accidental housing professional. Having spent six years at university studying geography and town and country planning, I was looking for a career that had links, however tenuous, to my academic qualifications. Planning jobs were few and far between back in the early 1980s so I applied for jobs that I felt were the best “fit” for my qualifications. With a great grounding working in housing management (general needs and supported housing) for four years I moved into development and asset management and never looked back.


Did you have a role model/motivator when you started out?

In my early career I always had the benefit of working as part of a highly motivated team who worked closely together to get the job done. We would bounce ideas off each other, jointly problem solve, continually encourage each other and have fun!.


What was the best piece of advice you received throughout your career to date?

Always try to see the other person’s point of view. Always try to understand what it would be like to “stand in their shoes”.


What was the most challenging situation you found yourself in throughout your career to date?

Working in development you invariably encounter opposition to new social housing developments. The unwarranted stigmatisation of social housing brings out the worst in neighbours who oppose new schemes. It can be challenging to convince them of your track record in developing, managing, and maintaining good quality homes. Public meetings often generated more heat than light, but I am a believer in openly engaging with people and not shying away from making the case for social housing.


Why did you sign up to CIH mentor programme?

Throughout my career I have always believed in coaching and mentoring my team members and took great satisfaction from witnessing them excelling in their careers. I view the CIH mentoring programme as a great resource for CIH members which can be beneficial to mentor and mentee.


What would you say are your areas of expertise?

Development/asset management/supported housing/housing management (...in that order!)


What are your top tips for succeeding in the housing sector?

I am a great believer in lifelong learning and have always encouraged staff to embrace learning opportunities.


Where if you could live anywhere in the world, would you choose and why?

Portugal – people/culture/variety/climate!