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Benefits of being a Board Member: Phil Diffey

Our boards are diverse; from local residents to experts in their fields, we welcome all members who want to make a positive change within our communities, from Castle Vale to Stockland Green and beyond.

There are so many reasons why joining one of our many boards can be fulfilling both on a professional and personal level. To find out more, we spoke to Phil Diffey, Chair of the Stockland Green Opportunity Housing & Training (SGOHT) board, to find out about his role and why he recommends joining a non-profit board.

Tell us about yourself and your role on the board

I live in Leicester and work as Development Lead for Stoke on Trent City Council. I currently focus on market rent and affordable housing, land finding and package deals, strategic disposal of land and public funding. Over the years, I have held roles across the West and East Midlands, and found out about the SGOHT board via a professional network.

I have been a board member for three years now and was appointed Chair recently. Working with three other independent members (resident member, two professionals covering housing and a new member from a training background), our board is also joined by The Pioneer Group CEO, Simon Wilson. I steer the board and we are responsible for putting together a strategy to support growth and positive change in Stockland Green.

What does the board do?

We tackle both pure development (housing) projects, responding to issues posed by rogue landlords and then delivering new homes to liaising with community organisations. For example, we’ve worked on maintaining the Highcroft Community Centre as a community asset, and with local churches & food banks to ensure that none of our residents go hungry during the lockdown.

What attracted you to the idea of becoming a board member? 

It was the right time in my career, which has been in Housing and Property. To reach my next career goal, my personal coach advised me to get experience at a more strategic level. This board role helps my CV and my background adds value to the board. It’s mutually beneficial.

What connects you on a personal level to this type of board?

The SGOHT board is small and task-focused, so this enables me to get more personally involved. We really get to see the difference we’re making. Ours is a very close-knit board, we have a great team spirit and work well together.

What experience do you feel your role brings to the table?

My housing experience complements the development and regeneration work we focus on. By joining, I changed the make-up of the board, and my skills include strategic planning and attracting more local representation again.

How do boards help shape the growth of the organisation?

Even as a sub-board of The Pioneer Group’s main board, we directly influence the group’s business plan. We work on a collaborative basis with other boards and contribute to the overall strategy. There is a really positive vibe around the table at our board meetings and our voices are heard.

Do you enjoy being a part of the board?

Yes it’s a fantastic challenge for me. I enjoy meeting our goals and giving back to the community. I gain experiences I wouldn’t get professionally, and being a member helps with the next step in my career. The role takes me out of my comfort zone and I gain a broader view of things, more from a strategic rather than an operational view. Being the chairman of the board also provides the opportunity to get training and development that I wouldn’t get in my day job.

What advice would you give to someone looking to join a board?

There’s no need to be intimidated. In The Pioneer Group’s boards there are a range of people with different backgrounds. We will help you to grow into the role and will provide training & development. We’re interested in your experience and other qualities you can bring to the role, like trust, honesty, integrity and accountability.

How can someone join a Pioneer Group board?

First steps would be to get in touch. We can arrange for you to observe one of our board meetings. You’ll get a feel for what we do, and we’ll then guide you through the application process.