Kevin Howell is Linc Cymru’s Director of Service Excellence

My last few years of school consisted of me blankly staring into space and unsurprisingly my results were not something to smile about.  I really had no idea what I wanted to do.  My grandfather was a butcher and was somewhat perplexed to have a vegetarian grandson with no butchering aspirations! 

After a few exam resits, I managed to engage with education again and it became a bit of a passion for me, eventually I managed to get a Business Studies Degree.  Being the first person in my family to ever get a degree I was under the impression that on leaving university I would immediately be headhunted.  Not the case.  

I remember rocking up to an interview in a local authority (my 5th interview, would this be the one?).  As I picked dog hair off my shiny suit (my friend has a very hairy white dog, not a great combination with a black suit), despite being pretty clueless I was delighted to be offered the role in the housing benefits team.  I had the most amazing mentor/manager, who boosted my confidence and showed me the art of the possible. 

After a few years, I found my way into a housing association and I’ve worked in the sector ever since.   

I love the huge variety of opportunities and challenges working in housing brings.  I’ve done so many different roles, across a number of different housing organisations and as a result, have gained a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience. From senior influential policy roles, strategically overseeing front line services, strategic corporate services and most recently back into housing services. My career thus far has continued to push me out of my comfort zone and helped me build a solid understanding of what I am good at and where I need to improve. 

There have been many cringe moments which I can now laugh about.  None more than during my first TV interview.   I watched it back on mute (after all, there is no equal horror like hearing your own voice), and I was like the Churchill advert ‘nodding dog’.  Lesson learnt – keep still when being interviewed.  

The people in housing really make it for me.  I have met so many amazing tenants, colleagues and friends along the way.  Yes, it can be challenging, but it is always lots of fun.  I have found the culture in the housing sector brilliant.  I have been encouraged to be myself, bring my whole self to work, and really go for opportunities that present themselves.  I have been gifted so many personal development opportunities, from gaining coaching qualification, Masters degrees to witnessing inspirational speakers at a variety of conferences from across the globe. 

My most recent post is a new one, Director of Service Excellence at Linc Cymru.  Whilst I strategically oversee our housing and community services, it is a role that cuts across the whole business.  I love collaborating and bringing people together to bring about positive change, and this post will allow me to do that to drive service improvement.  It is exciting to be working with colleagues in our nursing homes too, who have once again shown their brilliance and resilience during the pandemic. 

I am constantly learning and evolving.  The work feels useful and can make a genuine difference to people and communities by working alongside them.     

That’s what makes a career in housing so special and a really rewarding.