Jonathan Prew: newly appointed CEO of Housing Partners

Jonathan Prew: newly appointed CEO of Housing Partners

“Housing Partners is a company that, after 24 hours of working on site, I actually know believes and follows the values that I hold” – so says newly appointed Housing Partners Chief Executive, Jonathan Prew. From the moment the decision was taken to appoint a new CEO, the search and subsequent appointment was always going to be values driven. For Housing Partners Founder, Ralph Catto, “The first thing was that we needed to find someone who had the same values as us; the same ethos, to be able to come on board to what is quite a tightly knit and aligned team around those values.”

Something that binds Housing Partners staff together is their Values statement, ‘Working together – we can – do the right thing’; and it’s one that rings particularly true with the choice of new CEO. That there was a ‘meeting of minds’ between Jonathan and Housing Partners was apparent from the first meeting that he took with Ralph and Investor, Andrew Barker: “I took away from that meeting that you’ve got two guys in very senior positions that actually genuinely believe in the values of Housing Partners – and if I was going to go and work for a company, I wanted to work with people and for people that had similar values. The market is an interesting one, it’s going through a lot of changes, but I met two people who really believe addressing that can be values driven.”

Housing Partners is an organisation that take a truly collaborative approach to the development of products; they create the solutions that the sector has asked for. Another truly compelling element of the role for Jonathan was that, “You’ve got a product set that has been co-created with the customer and very unusually, a significant amount of transparency around pricing. It just ticked a lot of boxes for me.”

Jonathan is deeply rooted in the Public Sector, having spent the first ten years of his career working in local government before moving into the private sector. Over the past few years, Jonathan has held senior roles in leading outsourcing companies in the sector, latterly in Capita where he took on the role of Managing Director Local Public Services.

Pride

A self-described ‘sleeves rolled up kind of person’, Jonathan has actively stepped away from the corporate world that he once headed up, in order to get closer to the human aspect of management. In his own words, “When I look back at my career, what gave me the greatest pride wasn’t being appointed the MD of a 5000 staff company with a £½ billion P&L, it was examples of where I felt I could influence either people’s careers in terms of seeing them develop, or I could sit side-by-side with a customer, listening to their problems and help them come up with solutions. And the more senior I became, the more removed from that I was. So, I got to a point in my life where I wanted to do something else and ultimately, I believe I’ve been my most productive and most successful where I’ve felt I could add more value.”

The extensive experience in software and large-scale technology-led change that Jonathan has garnered through his work in larger corporations will be invaluable as he leads Housing Partners into its next chapter. However, “It will be a delicate balance to strike. I need to use this to build on the very rich sector and customer approach that Housing Partners already possess. If we can blend the best of both approaches, then I believe we will have an even more compelling offering.”

This experience of corporate structures will bring a unique insight to Jonathan’s management of Housing Partners. Speaking on his first conversations with staff throughout the organisational structure, one thing that’s impressed him is the openness for the next challenge as the company expands. For Jonathan, “It’s been good that I can bring some bigger business insight and thinking, a different way of thinking. It’s been encouraging that people in senior roles in Housing Partners seem very open for change, very open for challenge – and that’s got to be good.”

Ethos

An openness to the insights of staff from all levels of the company structure would, perhaps be an unusual approach to leadership within a larger corporate structure, but at Housing Partners, it is one that hits just the right note. The collaborative ethos is one that permeates the Housing Partners infrastructure, with staff throughout the company being incorporated into the development of the products. For Jonathan, his first day in the role will exemplify this: “Coming into somewhere like Housing Partners, I’m going to be given the opportunity on Monday to speak to every member of staff on what I want to achieve and that really excites me because I feel like I can really make a direct influence and help those people. This is taking me back to some of my most exciting and rewarding times in my career, when I can work more directly with people.”

Housing Partners, for Jonathan is a powerful machine, a vehicle for creating solutions that can impact a sector speckled with challenges: “I felt like Housing Partners was big enough to deliver on some of the national agendas, but equally was small enough that we can care, be adaptive and responsive. I felt that Housing Partners could have a key role to play in making the UK housing sector a better place.”