View from the River: Team Insight – Pamela Leonce

Take a closer glimpse into the people at Saxton Bampfylde and our global partners with our regular team insight feature.

Pamela Leonce is the newest face in the company, having joined Saxton Bampfylde in March 2018.

Past, present and future

I am a partner and consultant in the Social Impact and Housing Teams and my role is to find excellent senior executive talent for our clients. Prior to joining Saxton Bampfylde, I had been in housing / criminal justice sector for 30 years and worked for a number of housing associations. In my spare time, I support an international charity that provides leadership and management development support to organisations.

Rainy day dreams

Apart from staying in bed with a nice glass of wine and a good book, my day dream place is the Boucan restaurant in St Lucia. Home to Hotel Chocolat, and 1,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea, the view is absolutely amazing and even when it rains there is something magical about watching the rain fall on the lush green land.

Sum up the housing sector in three words

Changing, conscientious, exciting

Who do you view as a particularly inspiring leader, and why?

Simon Sinek – a very inspiring motivational speaker. He has met with leaders and organisations in nearly every country and identified some remarkable patterns and insight into how the greatest leaders, think, act and communicate. I find his observations very practical and memorable.

What attracted you to your role at Saxton Bampfylde?

Having worked in the housing / criminal justice sector for the majority of my career, I wanted my next move to be something that fuelled my passion for people and leadership, as well as enabling me to work with a broader range of organisations. Saxton Bampfylde presented the perfect opportunity to join an organisation that is committed to identifying and sourcing good leaders across a range of sectors, as well as becoming a partner in an employee owned firm. Another part of the attraction for me was that I could still use my housing and social care expertise.

What would you identify as the biggest change in the housing sector in the past five to ten years?

The ongoing merger of housing associations. This has created organisations which are very large and have as many as 120,000 units. From one perspective, this is good as it means associations can build more homes and sweat their assets harder, however the ongoing challenge will be ensuring that they do not lose sight of their original social purpose and become overly fixated on profit. Associations need to continually ask themselves how they can keep in touch with their local communities and continue to make a difference to the lives of those who they house.

What does the competitive landscape look like for talent in the housing sector?

There is a lot of talent in the housing sector. Indeed, many people have started from the front line in roles like housing officer, team manager etc. and grown to become senior managers. I find that very encouraging. But the war for talent is intensifying and we are seeing more and more people from outside the sector becoming attracted to housing. This will bring fresh knowledge and expertise to the sector, it also potentially motivates and enables housing specialists to add breadth to their experience.

Do you think there are benefits to appointing talent from outside the sector and region?

Yes, because like any other sector housing can learn from those outside of the industry, and because talent exists in many sectors. However, I equally think other industries can also learn from housing, so we shouldn’t be shy to move into new or different spaces. Moving into executive search, I knew I had an eye for talent and leadership, especially within the housing and social care sector. I wasn’t shy to promote this a transferable skill.

How much emphasis is there on diversity at board and senior executive level across the housing sector?

The housing association sector has always prided itself on its inclusivity and focus on meeting the needs of diverse communities, therefore there continues to be an ongoing emphasis on diversity. However this hasn’t yet had the impact that we would like to see. The number of boards that have a diverse representation on them or the number of senior executives from a diverse background is still quite low, even though the case for diversity across leadership teams is compelling.

There is talent out there, but organisations are still making quite traditional appointments. I am Chair designate of the board of a housing association and in partnership with a number of other organisations, we are participating in a programme called Leadership 2025 that focuses on developing junior and middle-management BME individuals in housing organisations. If the sector truly wants to make a difference, then we must expand the range of voices and people we bring to the decision-making table. This is important to me personally and I am excited about the potential I have as part of Saxton Bampfylde to make an impact on this agenda.

Get in touch with Pamela

pamela.leonce@saxbam.com

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