Certified Housing Professional: Julia Saunders

Name: Julia Saunders

Occupation: Development Manager, CORT Community Housing

Certification Level: Three

Years in Housing: 11

Why did you seek accreditation?

“Career development is really important to me and I’ve always been looking for ways to upskill and grow throughout my career. This accreditation was a really good way to capture all the learning that I’ve achieved, not only in the past year where I’ve been doing lots of new training and things like that, but across my whole career.”

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

“Every day is different, and that’s really good. That’s why I love working here. I can be out on-site, looking at the progress of one of my new builds, or I might be looking for a new site to build on. I could be out meeting with the council, talking about a planning application or with the design team talking about new projects and making sure they’re going to meet the needs of our tenants. I could be in the office with our whole team – we do that pretty regularly. It’s really good because we all share stories and talk about what everybody else in the office is doing, and what the tenants are up to. It’s really nice to share all of that. ”

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

“I like to collaborate with everybody through the lifecycle of a project. I like to work with everybody as if they’re part of the whole team instead of having external contractors. Luckily, I work with a whole lot of people who share a passion about  who our tenants are, and the lives that we think they deserve to have in terms of their housing, and the quality of their housing .”

“Working collaboratively like that, we can show that we’re a really good organisation to work with. We build beautiful housing that really meets the needs of the tenants who come and live with us, and we can show the wider construction industry that community housing isn’t just a necessity but it can be as rewarding as other projects in the industry. The people who work with us certainly feel that way.

What is your secret housing ‘weapon’?

“Others might not necessarily agree but I think I’m very passionate about this industry – I’ve gone away from it. .. and come back.”

“I feel that everybody deserves a warm dry home that suits whatever their needs are and wherever they ‘re at in their life. For me, that means, if I have a really horrible day and things just don’t go how they should, it’s very easy to remind myself why I work here, and what I’m doing, and who I’m  working for at the end of the day. I think that a lot of people I work with feel the same way.”

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

“I think being able to certify people right across that board is really important. I work predominantly in construction. In this field, there niche, and we don’t really fit into those models, especially in terms of how they award projects and things.”

“In community housing, there’s a massive spectrum of people who work within it, and the AHi are doing a really good job of recognising everybody, and raising the profile of community housing in Australia and in New Zealand. I was looking at some of the AHi awards recently – Tenant Initiative, Community Engagement and things like that. It’s really hardworking people who win those awards. It’s recognising people where they wouldn’t fit in any other kind of housing or construction body.”

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

“All professionals, regardless of who they are, should be trying to work towards learning and upskilling all the time, and the CHP accreditation helps give direction to that. By getting that accreditation every year, it shows that the knowledge you’ve got is current.”

“I also think the more people who get accredited will help with promoting the AHi as a professional body so that we can get a name, and other people recognise your learning and your skills as well – other people out in the wider housing or construction and property industries.”

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

“I’d take my partner who is full of laughs but, unfortunately for him, I’d probably also take my mum because she’s my best friend. Luckily, they get on okay… maybe not on an island forever. In that case, we would also need coffee in the morning and prosecco for the rest of the time”, but I think health is important and everyone should value their health.”

Click here for more information about becoming a Certified Housing Professional.