This week’s exclusive look at a senior figure’s career in the housebuilding industry is with Robert Thompson, who has progressed through a variety of roles in the sector to reach his current position of building director with Essex-based Troy Homes.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Troy Homes.
My name is Robert Thompson MCIOB and I am the building director for Troy Homes. I have overall responsibility for the health and safety, quality and production management of our sites.
What career path has brought you here?
I started my professional career as an assistant site manager at Croudace Homes, where I progressed through their ranks as a site manager, contracts manager culminating as a building manager. I was then approached to have a discussion regarding the building director role at Troy Homes. During these discussions it was evident that the Troy Homes ethos of a high-quality product and specification that exceeded customer expectation was very attractive and a distinct break from the high-volume, low-quality production model which was prominent within the housebuilding industry at the time.
What is it about your current role, and Troy Homes generally, that you most enjoy?
I enjoy working within a team that has a common goal to achieve the highest standards of quality with a shared ethos of not compromising quality for production. As a new company our team has a vast experience within the industry gained at various different housebuilding companies. It has been exciting and interesting to see how different ideas and methods have been utilised throughout the working experience of our team and together formulating new processes and procedures for Troy Homes to establish ourselves within the industry.
When did you first consider housebuilding as a long-term career?
I started my career as a City & Guilds advanced qualified bricklayer, whilst undertaking my trade qualification we learnt about site management, this was an aspect of construction that interested me greatly and I was keen to formulate a rewarding career rather than apply a trade for the rest of my working life. The opportunity arose for me to join Croudace Homes giving me the chance to begin the career I was looking for.
How have things changed since you started in this industry?
Since I started in site management there have been many positive changes, primarily the focus on health and safety management and behaviour within the housebuilding sector. It is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of the industry – that every individual who works on a building site operates in a safe environment and returns home safely to their family. At Troy Homes I want our subcontractors and operatives to want to come to work on our sites, earn their money whilst producing high-quality work and then return the next day to do the same.
Are there projects/mentors in your career to date that have been particularly inspiring to you?
I had some very important mentors during my early career at Croudace Homes who taught me how to manage people the correct way and how to complete houses to a very high quality, the most important thing I was ever told by my first site manager when I was his assistant manager was to treat every house we worked on as my own, and always think would I and my family be happy living with the workmanship produced by our team. I still hold and install this ideology within my site teams at Troy Homes.
Do you have a role of mentor yourself, and if so, how do you approach bringing a team to its full potential?
As a relatively new company I am pro-actively managing numerous site teams, the key for me to good leadership is to always to treat people fairly, listen to them and empower them to undertake their roles effectively.
What advice would you have for someone considering a career in property and aspiring to your role?
With the shortage of national housing at the forefront of the government agenda there is no better time to commence a career within the housebuilding industry, whether this be at trade level or within the management, surveying or sales aspects of the industry. My advice to all young people starting their careers is to work hard, show commitment to their role and the opportunities to progress their careers will present themselves.