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Fiona Fletcher-Smith: The stepping stones to becoming the CEO of a £39 billion business

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“To see the poverty in people’s lives and how that was affected by frankly the rubbish housing we were providing for people in the late 80’s…spurred a desire to help people, to provide housing that will make it easier for people to live their best lives.”

To kick off our first devcast… episode of 2023, Andrew Deverell-Smith – Global CEO & Founder at deverellsmith and Hintel was joined by Fiona Fletcher-Smith, CEO of one of the UK’s leading housing associations, London and Quadrant.

Fiona’s extraordinary career began at just 19 when she was an office administrator at the Dublin City Corporation. Now she is the CEO of a £39 billion business.

How did she get there?

The stepping stones to success

After dropping out of her history degree at 18 because it wasn’t the right fit, Fiona landed herself a job at Dublin City Corporation as an office administrator. She was handed two envelopes to decide which division she would sit in, and she picked the housing department over vehicle taxation which could have taken her down a very different career path.  

She shares the culture shock she experienced from living in a small town in Ireland, adapting to working in Dublin, and realising that housing was an actual reality. She had never seen flats where she lived, and then suddenly she was looking after Dublin’s only high-rise building at that time.

Widening her career

The Dublin City Corporation gave her a career break, and she took the opportunity to go travelling. She landed in London and fell in love with the city. She shares how it was so different to Dublin in the late 80s. She adored the diversity and energy of London and found her next career step in a small housing association, working on a lot of local authority projects.

In the back of her head was always the desire to finish her university education so she headed to Newcastle university where she studied surveying. This widened her housing career where she branched out into working on assets and development appraisals. She shares how she spent the next 30 years working within the public sector. 

Housing is a fundamental piece of the property sector

Fiona explains the value of housing and how our lives start with a safe and secure home. Somewhere free of disrepair, dampness, and mould and somewhere your family feels safe. Even down to having a productive education where you aren’t moving all the time due to temporary accommodation, and you have the space to do your homework. It’s such a fundamental part of what we do, as well as being an incredible asset that has value, especially in a place like London. 

Listen now to hear the full interview and more about Fiona's impressive career...