14 December 2022 | The Dot Dot Dot story | Back to Blog

Reflections on five months as Dot Dot Dot’s Chief Executive

From Dot Dot Dot Founder, Katharine Hibbert

This month we have welcomed our Chief Executive, Mark Ackroyd, back from five months of parental leave.  In his absence, I covered his role alongside my usual responsibilities as Dot Dot Dot’s Executive Chair, bringing me closer to the nitty-gritty of our work. Here are my reflections on five months in the driving seat.

1) We have great clients

Dot Dot Dot’s work enables us to be on the ground in some of the country’s most exciting regeneration schemes, giving us a chance to watch our clients’ ambitious projects take shape.  Our job is to take care of buildings that would otherwise be empty, and many of these exist in contexts where local authorities, housing associations and private developers are transforming places. This means we get to visit these projects regularly, often over a period of years, letting us watch changes and improvements unfold.

Some of these projects are huge, such as Peabody’s vast, decades-long upgrade of Thamesmead, which we have been involved in for seven years. Others address specific needs, such as the work by Women’s Pioneer Housing – a housing association with a rich feminist history and a leading voice for women’s housing – to build more homes for women. Still others are small but innovative, such as our work with a housing co-op which is increasing the density of its stock in suburban outer London.

It’s satisfying to play a role in these exciting schemes – especially since our work aims to smooth transitions from the old to the new. We reduce stress on the ground for residents and front-line staff by removing the headaches caused by empty buildings, and instead we create homes for community-minded people who give their time to worthwhile causes and are good neighbours. I look forward to returning to all these schemes in years to come to see the difference.

2) We have lovely guardians

A pleasant aspect of being more hands-on has been the conversations with existing guardians and with applicants who would like to move into the properties we manage. All have a range of reasons why the homes we offer suit them – some are moving out of their parents’ homes for the first time as they find their feet in their careers, while others are looking to reduce their living costs so that they can save or simply make ends meet more easily.

It’s also good to hear about the volunteering they do while housed by us – for example, our guardian Jack, who lives in Henley, spends time chatting on the phone to people experiencing loneliness with the Royal Voluntary Service, while Maxwell in east London volunteers with Comfort Kitchen, serving hot breakfasts to homeless and vulnerable people.

It adds motivation and context to the work on spreadsheets and reports to hear more about the day-to-day experiences of the people we house, and is a good reminder of why we exist as a business.

3) We have a strong team

The most enjoyable part of the past five months has been working more closely with my Dot Dot Dot colleagues. As a team, we have delivered business as usual, addressed challenges as they arose, and made service improvements such as our recent overhaul of the application process for new guardians. It has been demanding at times, and the economic context has been challenging, but I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in working on worthwhile problems with smart, thoughtful colleagues who are committed to our purpose and values.

While I have now handed the responsibilities of being Chief Executive back to Mark, I’ll be continuing in my role as Executive Chair. The whole team will be working to deliver our core services and to strengthen and improve what we do into 2023 – the need for our work is greater than ever, so we look forward to cooperating with all of our stakeholders to maximise the impact we can make.