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This week, 1st-6th March, is National Careers Week and it aims to inform and inspire the next generation as they enter the world of work. We asked Together Housing staff to share the twist and turns in their career journey to show how everyone must start somewhere.

Since joining Harwood House as a trainee in the 80s, Devinder Singh has seen a lot of changes. Harwood House gradually became Together Housing Group and Devinder was promoted up the ranks to Head of Property Compliance. But the most notable change is the quality of mince he now buys. Here, Devinder spills the beans on the secrets of his success.

After Polytechnic I decided to stay in Leeds (mid 1980s). While applying for work, my daily routine involved

  • tidying up/cleaning the student hovel that I shared with five other lads (lots to do),
  • walk into Leeds,
  • visit the job centre, followed by
  • a quick call into Leeds Market (at the time I used to think that “economy mince” was a bargain, until I noticed that most of it turned to fat when cooked and it was tasteless. The lure of 50 pence a pound was however too great a temptation),
  • Walk back to my hovel.

The job opportunities available were restricted and I struggled to secure a job with any sort of career progression path. For a while, and driven by desperation to break the painful monotony, I worked for an agency on a few building sites (as a labourer). The work was very physical, but I slept well. It was during this time that I applied for what seemed to be, every job that was going. During one of my customary searches of the jobs section, I saw an advert in The Yorkshire Evening Post for “P.A.T.H Trainees”. This was an incredibly positive incentive, and the advert was a made-to-measure fit. After completing my application, I naturally thought that I would be rejected BUT was over the moon when I was offered an interview, which then progressed to a job offer.

My starting salary was £5,000 and to top up my income I worked in a local pub in Headingly – which was really interesting particularly when the cricket/rugby was on or lads wanting to “student bash” paid a visit. My placement was at “Harewood Housing”, which was a small and traditional housing association based in Guiseley, Leeds. My direct line manager was a legend of a bloke called Gerry Percival Warren.

After a full 12 months, I was offered a permanent post and promotion from “trainee” to “officer”. My salary increased by 50% (to £7,500) and after a few months I was able to pay off my debts, move into my own flat and quit my job in the pub.

Working for Harewood Housing was a great grounding. At the time, I spread my role working between Repairs and Development sections. As more and more focus was applied to undertaking major repairs, I was asked to oversee this. While juggling these roles was demanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the work (and the support from all my various managers).

As the workload increased, the decision was made to provide additional support and provide me with an opportunity to become a “manager” (WOW)!

Since becoming manager, I have been involved in several mergers, namely

  1. Harewood Housing merged with Chantry to form “Chevin Housing”.
  2. Halam Housing joined “Chevin Housing”.
  3. Chevin Housing along with 4 other established housing providers joined resources to form what is now Together Housing. It was at this point that I was provided with further promotion opportunity (from “Manager” to “Head of”).

My personal experience has involved a lot of hard work and demanded lots of change (coupled with a bit of luck) but it is a path which I would recommend to anyone (including my 18- and 21-year-old lads).

While it is not either an accurate measure of ultimate success nor my ambition, writing this account, I have realised that the mince I buy today is £5.59 a pound and it tastes a lot better.

You can find out more about National Careers Week here: https://nationalcareersweek.com/

Latest News Head of Property Compliance shares how his career started