Shauna Hutchinson is a Resident Engagement Officer with Network Homes in the UK. She talks to The Industry Leaders about the importance of authenticity, and why she's always working to improve herself.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
Like many, I fell into housing. I started working in asset management for three years hearing people's struggles through complaints. I wanted to use customer learning to bring about service improvements across teams internally, and with contractors, so I took a step into Resident Engagement.
I applied to the role once and wasn't successful, but my mentor encouraged me to try again when the position was posted three months later. I did so and secured the role! I haven't looked back since.
What kind of work does your role involve?
When you know something isn't working for people on the receiving end of a service, what do you do?
You think about what you can do to fix the problem. That's exactly what my role entails, thinking about the intricacies of different housing sectors' services and how they link to make small changes with a big impact. I need to think creatively to (sometimes not-so) subtly challenge the status quo.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The legacy! People sometimes look down on social housing, but we're supporting people from all walks of life to have a foundation for their own future. I can give back to the industry that kept my family safe and work with dedicated, socially conscious people at the same time.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Two things that stick with me to do this day: What's the worst thing that happens if you fail? Do you die? No. Though I suppose that depends on if you're doing a death-defying stunt.
The other advice was that if you don't know your destination, it doesn't matter what path you take, so enjoy the journey.
What, or who inspires you?
My Mum inspires me! She is unapologetically bold, hard-working, hilarious and fashionable. I'm still working on the unapologetic aspect for myself haha!
Authenticity inspires me. Real issues, real change and real people. I'd like to think that being my authentic self right now, puts me in a good position for being the best me in the future. We all have the power to influence things to make the world a better place, so we have to start small and think big.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Inside Housing, TPAS, Twitter and word of mouth. Information is everywhere, I'd be ignorant to not pay attention to all the avenues available to be in the know.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
This will sound cliché but the most challenging project I've ever worked on - because it never stops - is myself. There's nowhere to run or hide, no scapegoat or system to blame like when a project is delayed, or you don't exceed every objective like you'd planned. The assignment is all about remaining resilient, optimistic and solution-focussed for yourself and others so that you can overcome the problem.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
If I could guarantee that it's not being claimed by the person who dropped it, I'd pay all my Mum's bills and my sister's mortgage. I'd also make sure my people have a real helping hand with getting onto the property ladder, give to charities I care about like Crisis, NSPCC and Royal British Legion.
For myself, I'd book a massage and hotel stay at a luxury hotel, go on ASOS look for something and say "oh no that's too expensive" and then get the mental energy to house hunt.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
To be honest, I don't think I ever truly switch off from work, I tend to have ideas in my sleep or when I'm cooking. But when I really need to unwind, I turn my speakers all the way up, play soca music and cook for my people.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Have real government support to have enough high quality, safe, affordable homes for people who need them, in areas they want to live. It irks me to see areas I grew up in becoming unattainable to the communities that made them the 'place to be'.
How should people connect with you?
You can reach me via any of the following: