Certified Housing Professional: Geoff Barclay

Why did you seek accreditation?

“It’s about really being on top of what’s going on in the sector at any given time – in the current situation, as well as future strategies and thinking. My interest overall is to see how the sector works and how I can bring my knowledge over from the private sector. I’m quite interested in strategy around future developments in housing, particularly mixed tenure – that’s something I’m pretty passionate about – and working with the private side of things to help fund those future projects, and how we can get them off the ground quicker and support the flow of housing.”

“I’ve always sought to get accreditation in whatever sector I’m in. In the private sector in real estate, I had to maintain Certified Practicing Member points. Obviously, when I went to switch over to the social housing sector, I wanted to maintain the same level of professionalism and recognition.”

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

(Laughs) “Definitely no day is the same. It’s actually quite hard to maintain a routine or set tasks because it is such a diverse role, there’s so many things pulling at each other on any one day. I’ll often be dealing with something simple like a maintenance issue in the morning and then sitting in meetings with one of the housing officers talking to senior management about housing policies and procedures in the afternoon, so it really is that diverse.”

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

“I think, given I’ve got many years experience in the private sector, I can bring that knowledge and way of managing assets and property to improve efficiencies in the social housing sector. My interest is seeing how the two worlds collide and what comes out of it, and how can you create a better sector out of that.”

What is your secret housing ‘weapon’?

“I don’t know if it’s a secret weapon but I take a people-first approach rather than just a property-first approach. It’s very much about community-building and high level thinking about day-to-day issues. One of those things is good communication with tenants and stakeholders; listening to all the different pullers and levers that people have and seeing how they interact with each other. People may not always get what they want but they’ll get at least an outcome out of it and I make sure they are involved in those discussions along the way. And that goes through to not just tenants and clients but also colleagues and other stakeholders as well.”

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

“I actually think it’s stronger than the private sector as far as recognition and the desire to engage members. I think there’s a stronger sense of wanting to do all of that, whereas the private sector – particularly in the property sector – it is more sales-driven than property management.”

“Every event I’ve been to in the social housing industry has been well-attended and sold-out, which tends to tell me people appreciate what is happening in the sector and they want to be involved, want to increase knowledge and see improvement.”

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

“For me, it’s about making sure I’ve got all the knowledge and to strive to be the best. When I do apply myself to something, I want to be the best in that field so I think this helps me get there since I don’t have 20 years experience. I’ve only got four years in the social housing area so this is an accelerated learning process. I want to get as much information as possible and to have opportunities to talk to people from different organisations and chew the fat, so to speak. As far as other people, I think it’s always good to see an industry that has a decent certification process, and wants to recognise and build that best practice model into the sector. I think it’s a good thing.”

What five things would you take to a desert island and why?

“I have a family so they wouldn’t want to be left behind, and I could tolerate getting stuck with them on a desert island (laughs). I’d take a utility knife – you have to be prepared for the unknown, particularly pirates! I’d take a fire-starter because I’m no good at rubbing sticks together. I’d take a How to Survive Living on a Desert Island guide, which I think is pretty self-explanatory, and a good quality hammock. I don’t intend on doing too much except sleep after a hard day of doing not much.”