Head of Community Safety and Support Liz Chambers steps into the shoes of Peabody Chief Executive Stephen Howlett.

Liz Chambers

I had a glimpse into the life of Peabody’s Chief Executive, Stephen Howlett, when I spent the day shadowing him recently.

I arranged this as part of my executive coaching, which is helping to further develop my strategic thinking and influencing.  Peabody is embedding a Leadership and Management Programme (LAMP) across the organisation, which explores what we can expect from each other as leaders and managers, and highlights to employees what they can expect from their managers.

First up was a private discussion organised by London First, with Sir Michael Lyons, who is leading a review of housing policy for the Labour party.  Peabody submitted a response to the review earlier this year, which outlines a range of measures to support the delivery of new homes and the communities we need, in particular: targeted public investment, including in infrastructure; re-designation of brownfield land where appropriate to support regeneration; and a streamlined planning process.

In attendance were other influencers, including representatives from other housing associations and the private housing sector.

After the meeting, we returned to Peabody head office to meet with two of the Leadership team (Directors and Assistant Directors) to catch up on the latest news from their business areas, including Health and Safety, Strategy and Planning and Communications.

This was followed by an informal lunch with the Executive team (Peabody’s Executive Directors). This is a regular lunch in our staff cafe where Exec Directors buy their lunch, or bring the sandwiches they have made at home! There was a lively discussion prompted by the earlier meeting with Sir Michael Lyons, about future housing policy in London, and our plans to build 1,000 new homes a year.

In the afternoon I accompanied Steve to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), to attend a meeting of the Housing Sounding Board.  The key topics for discussion were garden cities of the future, and shaping national housing policy. Steve spoke about our plans for the regeneration of Thamesmead.

I really enjoyed spending the day with Steve and learnt a great deal from him about how we are sharing our experience of delivery, and using our insight and knowledge to influence the local and national policy agenda.  I can also appreciate the benefits of having such a broad knowledge of both housing and the external factors affecting our business, and the lives of our residents and communities across London.  

I will be taking this learning back to my role as Head of Community Safety and Support, and plan to shadow other Executives and Heads of service across the business, to expand my knowledge of Peabody and the wide variety of services we provide.