Role: Development Officer
Company: Clanmill Housing
Track Record: My job is to identify sites on which to build homes.
‘Because of our work, families can settle and put down roots, children have a safe place to come home to after school where they have space to do their homework and play, and older people and those who are vulnerable have access to the support and services they need to live independently,’ says Siobhan.
What does your job entail?
I’m part of the development team at Clanmil Housing Association, responsible for delivering new homes to help meet the growing need for social housing throughout Northern Ireland.
Along with a colleague I work to secure development sites where Clanmil can build more great homes for people who really need them.
We currently have more than 3,500 homes through-out Northern Ireland and recently secured funding to deliver 1,600 more homes over the next four years — an exciting personal challenge in my role.
My job is to identify and investigate development sites that would be good for housing, so I spend a lot of my day talking to property developers, estate and commercial agents, architects, planning consultants, political representatives and other key stakeholders.
I also work closely with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, who help fund the development of social housing.
My role involves navigating through procurement rules, getting market valuations and ultimately purchasing sites.
Once we’ve secured a site it’s handed over to other members of the development team to manage the development process, from the planning stage right through to handing the lovely new homes over to our tenants.
Is it 9-5?
My working day has to fit around consultation meetings which may take place in the evening to suit people who are out at work during the day so it’s not strictly nine to five.
However, I am very fortunate that Clanmil operate an award winning work-life balance programme that supports flexible working.
This allows me to work part-time at the minute while my children are small and to vary my start and finish times to suit things like the school run.
So while my working week is always busy and demanding it is balanced by the time I have at home to do my other job — being mum to my fantastic daughter and son.
How did you get into this line of work?
Before joining Clanmil four years ago, I’d worked in the property sector for eight years.
I had always been interested in social housing, particularly in the technical aspects of delivering quality assured housing that stands the test the time, so when an opportunity came up to join the team at Clanmil I didn’t hesitate.
Outline your career to date?
After graduating I worked in Gerry O’Connor Estate Agents in Stranmillis.
As I learned my trade and developed a strong professional network I was promoted initially to sales negotiator and then to valuer, managing a portfolio of new development schemes.
The onset of the recession coincided with the birth of my daughter and while I was off on maternity leave I studied through the Chartered Institute of Housing and achieved a Level 3 certificate in housing.
When I went back to work it was with Clanmil Housing as part of their growing Development Team.
Tell us about your qualifications/training?
I have a degree in English and Politics from Queen’s University.
While its not directly related to my career I feel it helped nurture the strong communication and people skills that are essential for my job, helping me to build the professional contacts and relationships that result in Clanmil securing development opportunities that allow us to build homes where they are needed most.
After graduation I enrolled in the Premiere Graduate Management Programme, specialising in marketing and this led to the estate agency placement that got me into housing in the first place.
What qualifies are required for your job — personal and professional?
People skills and the ability to negotiate effectively, fairly and firmly are central to my role.
As I’m always working on a number of sites at the same time, it’s also important to be organised, able to set realistic and achievable goals and have the determination and drive to over-come barriers.
A good sense of humour also helps get me through even the toughest negotiations.
What are the biggest challenges of your work?
The most rewarding element of my work is that I get to see vacant or un-used sites flourish into vibrant neighbourhoods that help make a difference in the community for people who live there.
I know that the homes we build and manage mean so much to people who live in them.
Because of our work, families can settle and put down roots, children have a safe place to come home to after school where they have space to do their homework and play, and older people and those who are vulnerable have access to the support and services they need to live independently.
The challenges presented by working within market conditions in this difficult economic climate seem insignificant by comparison.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
As mum to two small children I’m always on the go and often wonder what spare time is.
Between work and family, this is a really busy time in my life but it is very rewarding and fulfilling so I’m not complaining.
When I’m not in work I just enjoy spending as much time as possible with my family and really value simple things like trips to the park or getting together with friends.
Tell us an interesting fact about your Life.
I was briefly married to my husband’s identical twin brother due to a mix up with the marriage certificate.
I often remind my husband that those were the most peaceful three days of my life.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
My mother and father set a great example that instilled in me a core ethic of hard work and the importance of striving to be the best that I can.
They inspire me and motivate me to this day and for that I am very grateful.
I hope that I will be able to pass these important life lessons on to my children as they grow older.