Assistant Director, Housing
Rickardo has been working in housing for 13 years. After he left university, he joined a private sector graduate scheme, but quickly realised that he wanted to do something with real social impact. Here, he talks about the collaborative, open and flexible working culture at the GLA.
My colleagues are so innovative, so bright, so intelligent. Because of the constant pipeline of new ideas, I’ve been able to progress, get promoted and move into different roles. Over the last 10 years, I’m pretty sure I’ve worked in every single unit within the directorate. That’s certainly kept it interesting for me.
When I left university in 2004, I did a one-year graduate trainee scheme in the private sector. I thought this was going to be the rest of my life. But I became disillusioned. I realised I wanted to do something with real social impact. But I didn’t know this amazing career was waiting for me, until I applied for my first job in housing.
I’ve been working in the sector for 13 years now. What’s kept me here is the breadth of opportunity, the talented people, and the opportunities for personal development. My natural inclination is to want to learn new things, find new ways of doing things, and be engaged with different perspectives. Working at the GLA certainly allows you that.
First and foremost, having a decent and stable home improves peoples’ life chances. By helping to deliver genuinely affordable homes for Londoners, we’re ensuring there’s a knock-on effect in all areas of their lives.
Our team is great at establishing and maintaining partnerships, at all levels across the housing sector, and in central and local government. This has engendered a level of trust between us and our partners which is reflected by a strong track record of affordable housing delivery in London.
The culture within Housing and Land is one of collaboration, openness and collective responsibility. Open dialogue is valued and colleagues are often given the space to plan their workload. You are given the freedom to use your own initiative to get the job done.
We’re clear with people that learning and development, getting involved in new areas of work, and collaborating with colleagues, is all part of the job and not an add-on. From day one, colleagues are encouraged to learn new approaches, and build strong relationships with our partners and colleagues, across the GLA.
Given the importance of our role, I think people would be surprised by just how flexible we are. I’m a parent, and I’m very busy all the time. But, I’m able to plan my workload around family life. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I do school drop-off and pick-up. Colleagues across the GLA are very considerate about timings of meetings, so you very rarely have something in the diary at 9am or 5pm.
In terms of being a progressive employer, we’re certainly making strides in the right direction. Staff have established networks, including BAME, LGBT, Women and Disability which colleagues are encouraged to join and are given the space to attend events. Given the work we do, it’s very important that staff feel able to bring their whole selves to work and at all levels our workforce reflects the people that we serve.
We were one of the first public sector organisations to publish gender pay gap information before legislation was introduced requiring employers to do so. Since then we’ve also published our ethnicity pay gap information. While, we’re not quite where we want to be, we’re transparent about it. And we’re working constructively with our staff networks and the Union to improve and diversify the workforce. There’s a lot of work going to improve representation.
We’re also making a conscious effort to make the community a significant part of what we do, listening to real people and what they want. It’s not just about the political apparatus and corporate objectives. I genuinely feel we’re making a real difference.
We want to welcome new people who are good at the day job, but also arrive with new ideas. We want new approaches, to take us further than we’ve gone before. And, we want people who are passionate about having a positive impact on the lives of Londoners to join our team.
If you’re genuinely interested in working in a fast-paced politically-driven environment, in a very talented team with a strong, credible track record – this is the place for you.