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10 changes in my 10 years as Chief Executive at Futures Housing Group

As Futures celebrates a milestone anniversary, Chief Executive Lindsey Williams reflects on the last 10 years and the biggest changes she has seen over the last decade.

When I arrived at what was then Amber Valley Housing for my Chief Executive’s interview 14 years ago, I came armed with a killer presentation.

It presented my vision of the future of Amber Valley as a baby which needed nurture and care so it could mature through its petulant teenage years into a well-rounded, successful adult.

If I was doing it today, I would be using Prezi, PowerPoint or Haikudeck. But back then, I used acetates.

Remember them?

For those of a more recent vintage, acetates were a transparent paper which you could print or write on and then project onto walls using a clunky, noisy piece of machinery. Ahhh, those were the days!

It got me thinking about how the rate and pace of change has accelerated over the last decade. So as Futures celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, here are my top 10 changes over the last decade.

Apps

Phrases like “I’ll FaceTime you” and “there’s an app for that” did not exist. In fact, the only ‘smart’ thing about my phone 10 years ago was the hands-free kit, although you had to clip the microphone and speaker onto your sun visor so you could hear and be heard

Smartphone photography

To take a great picture you needed to spend a bit of cash on a good camera and good quality film. Smart phones have made it much easier and inexpensive to get great quality images.

Everyone’s a broadcaster

I still remember only having a handful of channels to choose from, but now live video apps such as Periscope and Facebook Live mean anyone can be a TV star.

Social media explosion

Especially in the last six or seven years. It has created the need for organisations to change how they communicate with their customers and colleagues.

Video conference calls

Once the realm of Star Trek fantasy, now they are a deeply entrenched reality in most organisations, including Futures.

The bank of Mum and Dad

Away from technology, society has changed at an equally breakneck pace. “The Bank of Mum and Dad” is a new phrase which certainly wasn’t around a decade ago.

House prices

The average house price in 2007 was around £175,000 but is now £217,000 – a 24% increase – while the average salary has only risen by 12.5% from £24,000 in 2007 to around £26,000.

Sporting gold

We knew it was going to happen, but we were yet to see Britain host the Olympic Games

Organisational growth

What we do as an organisation has changed from being a housing association to owning a social enterprise, a training company and a commercial developer.

Following “The Boss”

I never thought I’d follow Bruce Springsteen around the world for a year – but as a long-time fan, I guess some things don’t change.

Other things that have changed? The focus on providing excellent customer services has evolved into a desire to create effortless experiences for our customers. That is, we want people to be able to do what they need to with us as easily as possible.

It’s hard to predict what the next 10 years may hold, but I imagine digital will be a way of life with robots cutting grass, smart homes telling us when they need a repair, a tech-savvy workforce whose ‘office’ is wherever they choose it to be, augmented reality giving customers the ability to carry out repairs without having to wait for an appointment.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We are still talking about homelessness and a chronic shortage of quality affordable homes. We’re still talking about how we can manage our income and we still need to collect rent, carry out repairs and provide homes.

The reason why we exist hasn’t changed a bit.

Despite all the new tech, the different ways of working and the pace of change, my wish for the next 10 years is that we remain focused on people and respond in a human way. It is the personal touch and relationships that really count, after all.

  • Last updated: 02/03/2017

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