An interim in the housing sector, what does that entail - Linda Robinson tells us more
Q&A with Linda Robinson
Linda Robinson is a development professional with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has just completed her first interim placement as Interim Executive Director of Development for Metropolitan, one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable housing and care and support services.
We spoke to Linda to find out about her experience and what she has learnt from the role.
What first motivated you to secure an interim position?
Interim roles are a great opportunity to keep your skills fresh and ensure that you don’t stagnate. I had worked across different public and private sector roles previously, but to be an interim executive you need to be completely agile and blend your skills from different sectors to provide innovative solutions, within a demanding and unashamedly commercial business environment.
You can make a huge impact to a business, within a relatively short time. On top of that, you have the added bonus of more flexibility for your career.
Can you give us an overview of your career to date?
I’ve worked in all aspects of development in both the public and private sector for over 20 years now, including planning, delivery, joint ventures, affordable housing, land assembly, section 106 agreements and sales and marketing.
I also helped to set up the High Tide Foundation, which focuses on inspiring and educating young people about the work place and employment opportunities. In addition, I set up my own consultancy business Robinson8 Developments, which specialises in bespoke development projects. My role involved managing the whole project cycle, from land purchasing complex project management to sales and marketing.
Prior to that, I worked as Operations Director for Roseberry Newhouse Ltd, where I led a restructuring programme and managed the financial services and property arms. I’ve also spent seven years working in the Hong Kong property market, as an Executive Director in the residential and international property divisions for Colliers Jardine Agency Ltd. and FPD Savills. My time there involved the management of sales and leasing of international property to high net worth clients.
What did your recent placement involve?
I was appointed as an Interim Executive Director of Development for Metropolitan in December 2016.
In the position, I was tasked with the strategic delivery of 45 projects, driving a £780m construction programme in 21 key local authorities in order to establish a strong development pipeline to deliver 1000 affordable homes per year. I was also responsible for budget delivery and sales and marketing across all tenures.
My role included leading the Clapham Park Regeneration Project, one of the largest and complex regeneration projects in Europe and focusing on team integration and cohesion, to create a more coordinated environment.
What were the biggest challenges you faced within your role?
I think one of the biggest challenges is finding the time to talk to everyone you need to, in order to fully implement your business plan. You have to hit the ground running as an interim with all your skills ready and honed to deliver results, it can be hard to find enough hours in the day to explain your strategy, and also to reassure people of changes.
As an interim you need to adapt to a changing brief and be extremely versatile to the changing needs of the business. Initiating cultural change can be a difficult process, so you have to provide the necessary leadership to see your changes through to implementation.
Finally, what are your proudest achievements from the placement?
It would have to be assembling and leading the team to manage the submission of the largest detailed planning application in the UK, for the Clapham Park Regeneration Project. This provides 2,535 new homes, as part of the £1.6bn regeneration of Clapham Park. Metropolitan had already delivered over 500 new homes and refurbished another 700.
The planning application itself has the potential to provide a range of shops and cafes and a community centre, in turn creating hundreds of new jobs.
Aside from this achievement, I’ve hugely enjoyed identifying and cultivating talent with the organisation. Helping people to develop their skills is something I particularly enjoy.
In addition, I restructured the construction business to provide more efficient delivery in the north and south of the UK, while achieving financial efficiencies and implementing rigorous health and safety practice across the business.