Concluding our series of Just A Minute profiles of housing association finance directors, run in partnership with our sister publication Scottish Financial News, is Karen McIntosh, director of strategic finance at Hanover Scotland.
Why did you chose to work in the finance sector and how did you get started in the sector?
I chose finance, as at school I was always better at understanding facts and figures than English literature. I liked when a balance sheet balanced, sad but true. A long time ago, I was interviewed by the local Bank Manager and started in banking. After 11 years I left to have a family, once they started nursery I decided to rejoin the workforce and worked in finance for a non department public body. Whilst there I decided I wanted more, qualified as a chartered accountant then wanted to put into practice what I studied. I successfully applied for a job at Hanover Scotland as the Senior Finance Manager and then went onto to be the Director of Strategic Finance.
Why Housing and how does it compare with other sectors?
I did not really know what a Registered Social Landlord was, so before being interviewed I investigated the organisation to see what they did and what was involved. It was all so fascinating – then and still is now. To be part of a sector that makes a real difference to people’s lives providing, in the case of Hanover, warm, safe and secure housing to the elderly is truly rewarding. Hanover also provide support and care services, so the comparison to other sectors is that you feel part of a family that cares and wants to make a positive contribution to its customers. That feeling goes through the whole organisation from the staff working directly with the customers through to the back office supporting our services.
The best advice you received?
It’s never too late to learn, have a goal and go for it, if you don’t go for it you will never know just how successful you could be.
What has been your best professional experience?
Being part of the team that recently negotiated an overall £40m innovative funding package that allows Hanover to continue developing and will provide 170 new much needed homes over the next two years.
And your worst?
Not sitting my professional exams sooner.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in finance?
There are so many aspects to working in finance. Whatever the role, finance is the key to the long term viability of all organisations; it is a transferable skill that you can take from sector to sector. Appreciate the difference you are making and enjoyment will follow naturally.
What do you like most about your job?
No two days are the same. At the moment, I enjoy managing the financial challenges of being able to deliver excellent housing and services at a cost that is affordable to our customers and viable for Hanover. The sector is still facing downward pressure on public spending eight years after the crash of 2008 and the impact of serious austerity measures in the economy in general.
I love new technology and processes, but I hate it when they either don’t work or worse when they make the process time longer, to me that is an inefficient waste of resources.
Do you read a daily newspaper?
Not every day, but paper of choice is the Scotsman and I do read a significant amount of online publications, especially around housing and finance.
Which social media sites do you use?
I am not really into social media, but do have a Linkedin and twitter account.
Hobbies and interests:
Apart from enjoying time with all the family, I love most sport, but especially football, rugby and tennis, though I am much better at watching than taking part. I also like reading and listening to music.
Favourite holiday destination:
Anywhere with my partner. We like to try new places, the world is huge and there are a lot of places to visit, in a short time.
If I had to name a favourite, then at the moment it would be the Caribbean. I have now been to a few islands and so far they have all been fabulous – beautiful landscapes and azure blue water and the people are so friendly and happy, but then who wouldn’t be living there
Dream job outwith your career in finance:
Working for BT Sport (they now seem to be leading in showing major football matches) providing football commentary.