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Female leaders at Halton Housing

IWD 2021: Celebrating our female leaders

Date posted:
8th March 2021
Female leaders at Halton Housing

Women across the world are being celebrated on Monday 8th March as part of International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, brings together a celebration of women’s achievements and raise awareness about women’s equality.

This International Women’s Day we want to celebrate the women in our organisation that choose to challenge.  Challenge the plain fact that women account for less than 7% of the IT security workforce in Europe.  At Halton Housing we’re proud of the fact that we employ a female in a role which is hugely under-represented by women.

Here at Halton Housing, we’re proud that 2/3 of our Executive Team and 40% of our Leadership Team are women.

In addition, we are also proud to be showcasing our female leaders from our Executive and Leadership Teams.

Meet our female leaders…

Liz Haworth – Group Chief Executive

Liz joined Halton Housing in 2019 as Group Chief Executive and leads the organisation to deliver our ambitious OD3 strategy, positioning Halton as a landlord of choice whilst fulfilling our vision of improving people’s lives. Liz talks about her career journey to becoming a Chief Executive and provides insight into her role leading over 330 employees.  

After roles in the financial sector and local government, my first role as a leader in housing was in 2002 when I joined Helena Housing as Corporate Services Director. From there I took on various roles with a particular focus on transformation, culture change, new service models and digital service delivery. I led on integration and transformation when Helena joined Golden Gates to form Torus, and was subsequently appointed as Chief Transformation and Operations Officer for the new Torus when Liverpool Mutual Homes joined the group. Then in July 2019, I joined Halton Housing as Group Chief Executive. 

As Group Chief Executive I have overall responsibility for Halton Housing and its subsidiaries, Halton Development Limited and OSUK. I have two direct reports, Debbie as Chief Operations and Transformation Officer and Neil as Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer. Along with eight directors they form the Leadership Team, who I rely upon to lead the organisation and implement the strategies that we agree with the Board. The role roughly divides into three main areas, working with the Chair of the Board and Board Members to ensure we are well governed, representing Halton Housing on external groups such as the other Housing Association Chief Executives within the Liverpool City Region, and working with Debbie and Neil and the wider leadership team on our future plans for Halton Housing.  

It’s a bit of a cliché, but it has to be the people which I love most about being Halton Housing’s Chief Executive. Halton Housing is full of positive and energetic people who are committed to what they do and are ambitious about the future, which makes it a great place to work. Like most people, we’ve faced some real challenges over the last 12 months, but I’ve been amazed with what we’ve managed to achieve during this time, and that is a credit to the people who I work with. 

I didn’t set out to be a Chief Executive and have never had a career plan. I’ve done jobs that I’ve enjoyed and left jobs that I didn’t. I always think if you are doing a job you enjoy you are more likely to be successful at it, and this will help you progress. If you hate your job, then don’t stay out of fear of the unknown. Take the leap and find something you love. 

To be a leader you have be confident and believe in yourself, you are as good as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something, most people are more than happy to help and that’s how all of us have learned. Be honest and most of all be yourself.” 

Debbie Trust-Dickinson – Chief Operating & Transformation Officer

Debbie started her journey with Halton Housing back in January 2020, just three months before the coronavirus pandemic began. Whilst it’s been a tough year for everyone, Debbie has played a fundamental role in Halton Housing’s response to the pandemic leading the business functions for Customer, Homes, IT, digital, Brand and transformation.

“I joined Halton Housing as the Interim Chief Operating Officer in January 2020, just three months before we went in to the first lockdown. I have since been permanently appointed as the Chief Operating & Transformation Officer.

Before I joined Halton Housing, I held senior leadership roles in several organisations including with HM Customs and Excise, HM Revenue and Customs, Manchester Airport Group, Helena Partnerships and Torus. All have given me very different insight and experiences, but I think the fundamentals of leadership have largely been the same.

My role at Halton Housing is to lead the business functions for Homes, Customer, Brand and Reputation, IT, Digital and Transformation. I am also part of the Leadership and Executive Teams, so work on developing corporate strategies and plans, and represent our business externally. 

We have a lot of incredibly talented people at Halton Housing, who are genuinely committed to improving people’s lives, and I think that is the main reason I enjoy working here.  I also love that our culture encourages creativity, innovation and challenging the norm.    

My advice to aspiring female leaders would be to go for it! Take opportunities when you can and don’t let self-doubt limit your aspirations. Nobody starts their leadership journey having all the answers so when you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it – we have all been there!  And when you do achieve your goals, pay it forward and support the next generation of female leaders.”

Natalie O’Hara – Director of People

Natalie joined us in 2012 and leads on Human Resources and Organisational Development, looking after our 330 colleagues, recruiting and retaining people with the right skills to deliver our services. Natalie explains how she thrives on the variety and challenges that her role presents, with the biggest challenge of them all during the past 12 months.

“After having studied Human Resource Management at University, I progressed up the HR career ladder undertaking various roles and I have worked in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

As Director of People, I am responsible for leading on the People agenda which is broadly split in to two areas HR (activity related to employment) and OD (organisational development, change and performance). I am privileged to work with the Executive team and fellow Directors who form the Leadership Team. My role has evolved over time and it is key in driving the People strategy, ensuring we provide a Healthy Organisation for our People, our greatest asset.

It’s the people that make Halton Housing a great place to work. Their passion and enthusiasm to improve people’s lives is inspiring. I also thrive on the variety and challenge that my role presents and there is no bigger challenge than leading on the People agenda during a global pandemic!

My advice to aspiring female leaders is to be authentic and believe in yourself. You can achieve great things!”

Pauline Jones – Director of Neighbourhoods

Pauline began her career in housing back in 1985. With a passion for housing management and making a difference to the community, Pauline has worked her way up the career ladder inspiring countless colleagues along the way. Here Pauline gives us a whistle-stop tour of her career and some brilliant advice to aspiring female leaders:

“My passion has always been Housing Management, making a difference in our communities and after 20 years working within Local Government and climbing the career ladder. I am proud to be the Director of Neighbourhoods. Upon reflection on my time at Halton Housing, I have also gained great opportunities as a leader covering areas within Finance as the Income and Commercial Services Manager, Business Improvement supporting our culture and digital transformation. A proud moment for me in my career, was in 2018 as Head of Housing, which allowed me to make a difference for our customer’s and my colleagues lives.

As the Director of Neighbourhoods, my overall responsibility for the Neighbourhoods Teams, which includes the front-line teams supporting in many ways of vulnerabilities, homelessness, welfare and financial advice, independent living. I am so proud of all the teams for their support on improving our customers lives and delivering our key Customer and Place Shaping strategies. I have had the privilege of working alongside past and present fantastic people, not only at Halton Housing but within the Housing Sector.

Being at Halton for the past 35years has been an honour, working with the amazing people that are so passionate about housing, but most of all our customers, they never think twice on going the extra mile, I am so proud to be a leader driving forward our future plans and making a difference within our neighbourhoods and I have certainly seen some fantastic changes along the way.

Hold on to your dreams, believe and you will achieve. I have and always remember saying at 18, there’s no way I will still be in housing when I am 30. My journey has been a great one, that I am proud of. Someone asked me recently ‘What makes a great leader?’ I replied, ‘I always look at being part of a pyramid, the point at the top, is only as strong as the strong bricks below.’”

Sue Smith – Director of Finance and Assurance

Sue joined us the year after we were formed and has played an integral part of our achievements and successes, stepping up to the challenges as our business grew and evolved along the way. Sue talks about her journey from university graduate to leading Halton’s finance team: 

“I joined Halton Housing back in 2006. Before joining I worked my worked my way up the finance career ladder in a range of roles at some major companies including Coopers and Lybrand (now PWC), Johnsons the Cleaners and Kinetic plc.

My role has grown and changed over the last 15 years as our business has evolved. I have responsibility for finance (annual reporting and long-term planning), performance, and assurance. My role is key in ensuring that we do what we need to do to maintain funder and regulator confidence and that we maintain our G1/V1 status, something we proudly retained last November. 

It’s the people, our ethos of improving people’s lives and the variety of work. There is always something new to explore or learn. 

To all aspiring female leaders, I say this…. believe in yourself, never give up and take time to have fun and enjoy the journey!”

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