South Essex Homes

South Essex Homes are the arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) responsible for managing council housing for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. We were approached to hire a Commercial Director to set up a new commercial subsidiary – wholly owned by the Council - to generate an additional revenue stream, to be invested back into Southend’s social housing, and support the delivery of the government’s Decent Homes Agenda.

Aware that the council did not have anybody in-house with the requisite commercial skills, our consultant – Anthony Lewis – suggested hiring an interim instead of a permanent recruit. Why? A key advantage to using an interim is that you get someone into your organisation that is an expert at making an impact quickly, and has experience of managing a number of large, often complex, projects within a variety of sectors. As an interim sits outside of any politics that may exist within an organisation, the client organisation will often benefit from a new, fresh perspective. South Essex Homes needed to source an individual with a strong commercial track record and who had the experience and capability to launch the new business in a short timeframe. They required an individual who could make a real impact quickly so decided to go with Anthony’s recommendation and recruit an experienced interim manager for a nine month contract.

Anthony put forward a number of strong candidates, including Matthew Warham, a member of Penna’s network of Interim Managers. Anthony knew that Matthew’s commercial acumen, ability to deliver results quickly, and experience of working with a wide variety of stakeholders to achieve the right results made him a perfect candidate for this assignment. Anthony explained the challenge to Matthew in great detail, setting the ground for the challenge ahead to ensure clarity for both the client and the candidate. The quality of these briefings, and the strength of the relationships formed during the recruitment process allowed Matthew to hit the ground running. Matthew was required to establish the subsidiary on a very tight timescale, but was able to rise to the challenge.

The subsidiary company’s first line of business was launched just three months after Matthew joined the organisation, and a month later it was generating steadily growing scalable revenues and strong gross margins in a market with few competitors. With the sure foundations created, new lines of business were added, with anticipated revenues for the 2015-16 financial year at £1m.