30 May 2019

Our 'leaders in the spotlight' blog series will give you a little more insight into some of the people working in our sector. In this article, we caught up with Matt Campion, Chief Executive of Shepherds Bush Housing Group, to talk housing, career tips and Yoda.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the housing sector.

I’m Matt, I’m 45 and live in London with my partner and three cats. At heart I’m a bit of a nature loving hippy and if I wasn’t working in housing, I’d be channelling Felicity Kendal in The Good Life (a 1970s sit com. Google it).

I knew that I wanted to work in a field that created some social value rather than being profit driven, but I also wanted a good career structure that would allow me to progress and earn good money. After university I tried a few jobs in mental health, health promotion and teaching but none were quite right for me. After doing some voluntary work at a housing association I studied for an MSc in Housing at the London School of Economics which led to my living in London and my first role in housing.

2. What do you like most about your job?

Being able to set and deliver my vision for Shepherds Bush Housing Group is a real privilege. I realise that might sound corny but being in the CEO role is motivating and inspiring in equal measure.

I love being able to see real, tangible improvements in services or in the organisation and when everything aligns with people (both colleagues and residents) working to a common goal.

As the CEO it really is the truth that no two days are the same. The variety in this job is constantly fascinating and uses the skills, knowledge and experience that I have gained throughout my career and in life generally. It also teaches me new things every day.

3. And what do you find most challenging?

Difficult people issues are one of the most challenging parts of the job. I don’t think these get any easier as one moves forward in their career. I might have become better at dealing with them, but whether it’s difficult issues with an individual colleague, hard decisions about restructures or things that are negatively impacting on residents’ lives, they are the things that keep me awake.

Balancing affordability with developing the highest quality homes in the most expensive area of the country (we work in West London) is a constant challenge and feeds into the whole area of resources, efficiency and risk.

A constant challenge is delivering continuous improvement of services, whether by small incremental improvements or larger transformations. Keeping the drive and momentum to strive for more, better, faster can take resilience, particularly when there are bumps in the road.

4. The tagline for the event this year is ‘lead from where you stand’. Have you got any tips or words of wisdom for the leaders of tomorrow on making an impact in their current role?

As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”. It’s an amusing quote but there’s truth in it too. Whatever job you are currently doing and wherever you intend to get to, you must find a way to work that congruent with who you are. It’s great to learn from other people but you need to assimilate that knowledge and use it as yourself, not as an imitation of someone else or as who you feel you are expected to be. If you want to lead people, it’s essential that they connect with you and if you’re not true to your authentic self, people will sense this.

5. Tell us about fictional character from a book or film that you admire and think demonstrates great leadership skills.

Those who know me, know that I’m a sci fi fan. It’s a constant disappointment to my childhood self that the present we live in is not like the space-faring future I imagined. So, on that theme, I would say that Yoda demonstrates great leadership skills. He is wise and powerful yet knows how to hold this lightly and use it for the good of others. He knows when it’s time to think and reflect and how to see the patterns around him. He knows when it’s time for action. He knows how to teach people through their experience and when it’s time to move aside to allow other people to surpass him. And he’s a small, green 900 year old Jedi. What’s not to love?

Matt Campion

Matt is Chief Executive of Shepherds Bush Housing Group

Matt is part of the Future Housing Leaders advisory board and help to create this year’s programme. Find out more about attending the event.

Leaders in the spotlight: Matt Campion