Recruiting a new CEO: A tenant experience

Wednesday 31st of January 2018

We asked Tim Mills, secretary of Community Voice at Ongo Homes to tell us about his experience of being on the interview panel to recruit a new Chief Executive of Ongo Homes. 

As you may be aware, Ongo’s chief Exec, Andy Orrey decided to retire recently. This led to a recruitment drive for a new CEO.


Andy has been a forerunner in tenant involvement and has led the field in this. We will miss him dearly.


Our involved tenants are very well trained. We know, make and approve policies. We challenge in a well informed manner and we work together for the benefit of both the tenant and Ongo. We are also major shareholders in the organisation, having 51% of votes in decision making. For these reasons it was felt imperative that tenants have a say in who the new CEO is.


As a result, we were asked to form a tenant panel as part of the interview process for the new CEO. A great honour and one I was proud to be a part of.


Before we interviewed the candidates, we were briefed on what we were going to do. A tenant scenario. But one that no CEO (Apart, maybe for Andy) had experienced. We discussed what to look for, what to ask and how we would react to the answers. At all times we were mindful, however, that we could be ourselves and put the tenants needs above all.


So, we were looking for a good open body language, ease of communication, an open approach and (given the CEO was new in post in this scenario) a working knowledge of how Ongo works and how he would interact with the tenants.


Our main priority was to ensure that the candidate was putting the needs of the tenant, and his involvement with them at the root of his aims and agenda.


The basic scenario was that an estate had fallen into disrepair, leading to anti social behaviour, and our concerns about this were falling on deaf ears.


Each candidate faced the same scenario, however our responses to his answers were then reflective of his comments and assurances.


We were also looking for key factors in the responses, such as a time scale, accepting responsibility, a clear explanation of what he would do and a promise that we would be kept informed of progress.

We ensured we let the candidate know we were well informed by pointing out how this was affecting Ongo, in terms of voids, VFM and rent arrears.


Our decision was made using a marking process, in accordance with the rest of the interview process, based on four criteria (which I won’t go into for confidentiality). This was then weighted and added into the rest of the interviews to form part of the overall marks for the candidate.


Every single candidate was exceptional and I believe that any one of them would have made a good future CEO. It was a pleasure to meet them all.

As an aside, later at lunch, I was talking to a lady (who was not from Ongo) about my work in scrutiny and Community Voice. I tend to get a little passionate about this and love talking about it. She commented that it was scary about my level of knowledge.


My thought on that is. Don’t be scared of your tenants knowledge. Use it for our benefit.