Q&A: Five for…Carol Bailey
1. Q: Going from an Army chef to housing repairs and maintenance is not an everyday career journey – are there many common skills?
A: This may sound surprising, but working in the Army was a fantastic basis for my career and allowed me to make a success of the two decades I have since worked in procurement and service provision. I am delighted to have joined Osborne, but I would not be here without the multi-tasking and planning skills I honed in the Army as a chef and then business manager. For me, being organised, well-planned, a team player and understanding key objectives from listening to the needs of others are crucial skills, regardless of your profession.
2. Q: So are you still a stickler for punctuality and detail?
A: Some old habits die hard! But a key lesson for me has been that you must carry people with you if you want to achieve anything. Something else from the Army that has stood me in good stead – particularly in housing – is the need to measure everything to ensure its effectiveness. This is a big part of what attracted me to joining Osborne: the company’s passionate determination to understand and respond to the needs of customers, while at our heart being a family business that values our employees above all else.
3. Q: What are your key aims in the job, now you’ve gotten your feet under the desk?
A: We are ambitious to grow Osborne Property Services, as we see just how much clients value our customer-focused approach, while delivering a more efficient service. We aim to be recognised as the first choice housing service provider for quality, price, our people and, most importantly, how we work in partnership with our clients. I have felt so welcome since arriving in October and have been to visit our contracts and met as many people as I can who are at the heart of our operations. The environment has been really upbeat, positive and I am pleased there is a real air of excitement about the future.
4. Q: So what might that process of growing the business look like?
A: I have been involved in the social housing sector now for a number of years, having joined Osborne from Lakehouse. As a result, I know just how much the operating environment for housing providers has altered in the past few years. Osborne has been moving with the times and I am pleased to say that the feedback I have had from clients is that our focus on improving customer experience has really resonated with them. One of the next stages in our development is to maximise the value of our investment in customer service through working even more closely with our clients. This is something our new account directors, James O’Donnell and James Quy – at Waltham Forest and Dacorum respectively – are already focusing on. On a personal level, I’m also looking forward to the regional roadshows we’ll be running at the end of November, as this will be a further opportunity for me to meet operatives, site managers, customer liaison officers, contact centre colleagues. I am keen to meet everyone across Osborne Property Services and talk about the exciting journey ahead.
5. Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
A: You mean besides looking after the horde of animals (two dogs, two cats, two guinea pigs, two gerbils and even African land snails) that my daughters have amassed at home? In my professional life at least, I am pleased I have learned how to say ‘no’. There are times when you need to push back – no-one can do everything! The great benefit of this is that it allows people around me to be accountable and develop, while giving me the time to focus on the strategic elements of delivering a successful service on time, within budget with a great team