Certified Housing Professional: Chris Chaplin

Name: Chris Chaplin

Occupation: Consultant

Certification: Level 3

Years in housing 22-plus

Why did you seek accreditation?

“I think there are three reasons: one is; as a housing professional for over 20 years, I want the certification of my professional body to serve as evidence of my knowledge and expertise. A second reason is, as a member of the AHI board, it’s important for me to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk, and positively model what we believe is important. I guess the third thing is, I just have a belief in being a member of a professional body. Professional bodies certify their members. So, I think it’s important that, if I believe in belonging to a professional body, then I should take out the certification that it provides.”

 What does a day in your life look like? Do you have a routine?

“Not at all. It’s completely chaotic. It was very orderly when I was a steady, full-time employee but now, especially as I’m still in the process of setting up as a consultant, it’s pleasantly chaotic – in the sense that I’m in control of my own timeframe. I can choose when I want to rule a day out because I’m catching up with someone for coffee, and I can pursue other things like doing courses. I’ve been doing a couple of webinars, which I could never get the time off to do.”

How do you think you can personally contribute to the housing industry as a CHP?

“My contribution now, as a consultant, is aimed at helping improve the governance and operational processes of small-to-medium housing organisations that may not have the resources to employ someone like me on a permanent basis. The certification is a positive demonstration of my knowledge and experience of the sector. The other thing it shows is that I’m keeping up-to-date with professional trends and sector development, because you have to keep up with accruing points to maintain certification, and you get your points from training and from involvement in the sector and other things like that. So, for me in particular, as a consultant, that’s very useful.”

What would you describe as your secret housing ‘weapon’?

“My secret weapon is risk management. I’m particularly keen on that because I introduced a risk management framework at my last organisation. And, in doing so, it became more apparent to me how risk management is at the core of everything we do because it defines what you’re on about.”

“We work in a challenging sector so we need to structure our work. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO or a frontline service deliverer, your work plan comes from how you’re mitigating risks – the risk that you’re not delivering enough service to your clients, the risk that you’re not seeing everyone; the management of risk in terms of collecting rent or maintaining good relations with the neighbours of a difficult client. That’s my weapon.”

How do you think the housing industry compares to other industries in terms of recognising its professionals?

“I think the biennial professional excellence awards are a standout for the AHI. They really define the value the AHI offers, and they’re keenly contested and quite extraordinary in the quality of nominations. So I think we do really well on awards.”

“We’re also fairly good on training but it’s certainly something we can do better on, and I know that’s the focus of the current board.”

“In terms of professional recognition, I think we’ve got a long way to go, and that’s partly about the CHP program and overcoming a sector or an industry that tends to just have people working for it, rather than looking for professionals. So, there’s a bit of work for us to do on that, and we are the body to do it.”

What do you hope this accreditation will mean to you and others in the future?

“My long-term vision is it becomes something you want to have on your CV – to give you that extra shot at a position you’re applying for – and that employers are looking for certification because they know that someone who is a Certified Housing Professional has the accreditation of their professional body, and through that, is demonstrating they are professional, and they are up-to-date. I’d love that if the CHP was the difference between two good candidates, the one who is a CHP is the one who’s offered the job.”

If you were to make a desert island your home, what five things would you take with you and why?

“Well, I would hate to describe my partner as a ‘thing’ but I would have to take her along. I would also need a laptop to write on because the other thing I want to pursue is being a novelist, and being on a desert island is the perfect retreat to write my novels. The other thing is warm clothes – unless it’s a tropical island and, even then, I still want warm clothes because I hate being cold.”

“Fourth is binoculars. I love looking at interesting things – in particular, the stars at night on a desert island. I’m sure they’re going to be extraordinary. And, I’m also a bit of a bird watcher. So, I’m sure on a desert island I’m going to see an interesting variety of birds, and there’s no point seeing something in the distant and going ‘Oh, looks like a seagull, I’m not sure.” I’m very much an amateur bird-watcher but I don’t go on special trips just to see some special owl that has arrived in a distant location.”

“Oh, and lastly, I’d probably take the book War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve got it at home, I’ve had it for 40 years and I haven’t read it yet.”

For more information abut becoming a Certified Housing Professional, visit www.housinginstitute.org/CHP