Novus Blog

A day in the life of Michelle, our Helpdesk supervisor

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MICHELLE, OUR HELPDESK SUPERVISOR

  05 JUNE, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
It’s a bright mid-May morning at Novus Scotland’s Bathgate office and Michelle has just come back on shift.   Michelle and her team of eight coordinate the responsive repairs of about 15,000 properties across Scotland, scheduling some fifty maintenance operatives to fix a whole range of resident-reported problems ranging from blocked toilets to broken garden fences. Michelle first checks the e-mail from the afterhours Helpdesk to see how her last job of the previous evening has progressed. Michelle is proud that Novus provide a 24-hour continuous service to help the residents with their most pressing maintenance issues, but sees that this plumbing job has not yet been fixed due to some sensitive safety considerations preventing Neil - the maintenance operative - from visiting the property alone.   After fully understating these concerns, Michelle contacted her Housing Association customer and arranged for Neil to be accompanied on his visit. Using the Impact Response workforce management system on-line job scheduling system, Michelle arranges for Neil to meet his Housing Association “chaperone” at 10:00am so the job could be completed. All the information he needs is automatically routed to Neil’s handheld Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) allowing him to see all necessary job details then record his arrival time at site, hours on task and capture the resident’s satisfaction with the finished job. Satisfied that the job had now been scheduled, Michelle returned to the other outstanding jobs across Scotland.  By querying the Impact Response system, she determined that twenty eight new jobs had been entered into the system - either by residents calling in, or directly by the Housing Association customers.  Michelle sorted these jobs by region and distributed them to her team for scheduling.   Michelle then got down to allocating the open jobs in her region to maintenance operatives.  She drew on her knowledge of the local area including traffic conditions during the day and of which types of repair an operative is qualified to handle.  This also involves optimising the route between jobs to ensure that each operative is busy but can make each appointment in the scheduled time window.  Michelle allocates operatives by postcode and has several printed maps of her coverage area to make this possible.   As Michelle grabs an early coffee she reflects on her morning so far.  She is delighted to have got the sensitive plumbing job underway and pleased that all the reactive repair works are being scheduled by her team.  Michelle knows how critical her team is to maintaining the resident’s quality of life, whilst ensuring that the Novus team are used to best effect to fulfil the contractual commitments.
What the new Non-Exec Director brings to the business

WHAT THE NEW NON-EXEC DIRECTOR BRINGS TO THE BUSINESS

  30 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
John Palfreyman shares his thoughts on becoming the newly appointed Non-exec Director for Novus. Novus is privately owned by John Seddon’s family. The family have been in business for over 120 years and have a very clear view of why they are in business together. Following my appointment as Non-Executive Director at Novus Property Solutions, I recently had the pleasure of attending a “Non-Executive Directors (NED) in a Family Business” masterclass, run by the Institute of Family Businesses in association with the Financial Times. This inspirational one-day session was delivered by practitioners with a wealth of first-hand family business experience.  The delegates were either engaged as NEDs, or seeking to appoint a NED into a family business leading to fascinating discussions in the breaks and breakout sessions. These are my ten key “take-aways” from this session: 1. Clarity of role - for the NED to be successful, it is essential that there is total clarity of what is expected from them.  This needs to be shared with the board members - and (obviously) the NED - then periodically reviewed. 2. Champion of family culture - family businesses have a culture so clear “that you can taste it” (quote from one of the keynote speakers).  For example, Novus’ family values are documented here.  It’s essential that the NED understands, buys into and then champions the family values in all interactions with the business.  The NED must also speak up in the event that family culture and business goals misalign. 3. Balanced attributes - a NED is usually recruited to fill specific knowledge gaps at Board Level.  But the NED’s personal chemistry with family members and the Chief Executive Officer are equally as important and an essential pre-requisite for success.  The interpersonal aspects need to be nurtured through regular, informal interactions with the Board and family members. 4. Comprehensive on-boarding - the NED’s time to value is directly attributable to the quality and thoroughness of the on boarding process.  Gone are the days when an hour with the Company Secretary walking through the last Board pack will suffice.  The new NED must take time to get to know the Board, family members and Chief Executive Officer and their on boarding should include visits to selected remote office locations to understand how the company operates. 5. Complete objectivity - the NED must be totally objective (and be seen to be so) in their advice to the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and avoid forming closer ties with specific Board members.  The NED must also avoid getting involved in family or Board “politics” and forming “power axes” with other NEDs or Board members. 6. Mentoring - the NED is ideally placed to mentor selected Board and executive team members, including the ‘next generation’ family members. 7. External context - the NED brings external context into the family business, mitigating the risks arising from “it’s always been done like this” philosophy. 8. Successor planning - because of their objectivity and external context they bring, the NED is also ideally positioned to help with successor planning, to ensure that opportunities for key staff are achieved and the “flight risk” for key position holders is mitigated. 9. Challenging, but ego-free - the NED should (and must) challenge the Chief Executive Officer and family members where appropriate, but must do this in a sensitive, ego free manner avoiding confrontation and from a position of objectivity. 10. Sounding board - the NED must be available to the Chief Executive Officer and family members for brainstorming, idea validation and so on.  Again, the NED will offer impartial, objective advice in these interactions acting as a “critical friend” to the business. I am very excited to be able to fulfil the position of the Non-Executive Director for Novus after working in the information technology industry for 40 years, most recently with IBM at director level. Novus has a history of innovation which has seen it embrace change and adapt to meet new challenges. It’s an exciting time to join the business as it looks to improve efficiencies through digitisation and leverage information for strategic advantage. I will be working with Novus’ Board of Directors to integrate information-led innovations into project delivery and business management.  
Working at Novus - Neil Hand

WORKING AT NOVUS - NEIL HAND

  30 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Like many of our long-standing employees, our CEO Neil Hand chose to invest his career in Novus. Below Neil discusses the reasons behind his long service and his favourite aspects of Novus. What is the greatest thing about working in Novus? The ambition, commitment and drive of people to make a difference and ‘Get it Right’. What has been your greatest achievement? Seeing my apprenticeship out. I was not the best apprentice, I didn’t like getting dirty! What has been your most challenging moment? I cannot say that one moment sticks out, I have had many challenging situations through my career to date.  I always try to deal with challenges head on and see them as an opportunity to learn, develop and change for the good. What is your most memorable story? I was about 17 or 18 and an apprentice travelling in the back of a transit van to Telford every day, the journey took about an hour.  In those days vans had 2 fixed front seats and bench seats made from wooden planks either side in the back. This particular day the foreman (Jack) had picked up a piece of plate glass, laid it on the floor of the van, and covered it with a dust sheet.  It was about 6 ft x 4ft so took up the whole floor. As we got into the back of the van Jack told us that the glass was on the floor and to be careful not to stand on it.  As usual, I lay down on the bench seat and slept on the journey to work and as usual when we arrived on-site Jack would bang on the inside of the van to wake us up. I had been out late the night before and took a little while to wake up, as I sat up everyone else was out of the van and as I stood up there was a loud crack and the glass shattered, it was then that I remembered that the glass was on the floor.  I had to go and tell Jack that I had broken the glass, he gave me the most almighty telling off which sticks with me to this day. What are you looking forward to in the future? Leading Novus through this phase of development and transformation.  Also trying to play a little more golf and visit a few more places.
Working at Novus - Andrew Besford

WORKING AT NOVUS - ANDREW BESFORD

  20 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Its safe to say you spend a large proportion of your life at work. That’s why it’s important to enjoy what you do and the people you work with. Operations Manager Andy Besford talks about his favourite aspects of working at Novus. What is the greatest thing about working in Novus? It’s without a doubt the diverse group of people that I get to meet and interact with including colleagues, supply chain partners, clients and customers. Our business activity covers the whole spectrum in terms of society and industry which means that we get to encounter people from all walks of life. I am very much a people person and I get fulfilment from learning from the experience of others. Notable people that spring to mind were a former zookeeper that came to work for us as a Contracts Manager (quite apt) and our very own Darren Randerson who started his working life as a trawlerman in the North Sea.  We have had ex-professional footballers working for us, part-time actors, Russell the DJ, and Otis the tiler who wows crowds at the weekend with his vocals!! What has been your greatest achievement? My greatest achievements come from the progression, development and success of the people who work within my team. Novus is a national company made up of local teams guided by strong company values and family ethos. As an operations manager, I have a duty to identify potential, nurture talent and provide the opportunities for my team members to progress within our business. During the last 5 years my team members have achieved multiple promotions, gained formal qualifications and their performance has been recognised by our Board - leading to them featuring on both the Scholarship Programme and this year’s ‘Stepping In’ and ‘Stepping Up’ leadership programmes. What has been your most challenging moment? Hearing that we would no longer be Seddon Property Services. Originating from Stoke-on-Trent and working in the construction industry since I left school, the name Seddon was synonymous with the trade. I joined the business as a Supervisor 8 years prior to Novus being born and had built my career within Seddon. It was an uncertain time for myself and many others, however, when recently celebrating the companies fifth birthday, I can wholeheartedly say that the last five years have been a resounding success. What is your most memorable story? Working with Places for People on The Windmill Project, seeing the effect that we could have on a community by engaging our people and supply chain with a sole purpose to improving the lives of others. Spending time in this underprivileged community and understanding the day to day challenges of the people using the facility we were recreating has left me with lasting memories of the positive impact we had. What are you looking forward to in the future? Personal progression within my career. I am in the process of integrating into a new role which will involve having responsibility for both East Midlands and Thetford operations. This is going to be a real challenge which I am relishing. I have also successfully enrolled in the inaugural “Stepping Beyond” development program for 2018 which I can’t wait to get involved in.
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Contact Christopher Olley at Citypress
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Email: novus@citypress.co.uk
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