Nicola Brown, Sales Director at ROCC, chats to us about her 20 year career in the housing sector.
I find talking to housing providers about revolutionising the repairs service with ROCC exciting; I’ve been in the social housing sector for the last 20 years and I still start each day with enthusiasm at the prospect of discussing innovations and new ways of working with clients.
I enjoy working in the housing sector; more and more work, post-Grenfell, is about the detail of regulations. ROCC does detail and data incredibly well. We keep the details of every job, transaction line detail, as well as stock records and job costings, which can be really powerful in terms of compliance.
The significant savings we make with clients, which we have seen reinvested into communities, is really heart-warming. Core to ROCC’s philosophy is putting something back into our local and wider communities. We support various projects including Brighton Housing Trust in their ‘First Base’ initiative, which offers support to the homeless community; we support this by giving time, fundraising and work experience.
I completed my law degree at Durham in 1996. I then went through what was a unique scheme with Pareto Law in Altrincham, which focused on sales recruitment, bringing recruitment and in-work training together in a package for their clients.
I then joined Raven Computers in Bradford in 1997. Raven are a ‘Microsoft house’. I learnt so much about hardware; I could build a computer and I also learnt about software, licensing, financial management systems, the internet and web-hosting services. First and foremost, my strengths were sales. I made my first ‘solution’ sale, when someone gave me a problem and I had to fix it; a mobile working solution in a refrigerated, operational environment, which was a challenge back in 1997!
Starting at ROCC
In 1998, I saw an advert for pre-sales support with ROCC at its Rochdale office. I got the job and was out doing software demos with the now managing director of ROCC, Chris Potter. My skills were more commercially focused than the technical side. I became national accounts manager for clients ROCC continues to work with today. I became senior account manager and was later promoted to Sales Director.
The changes in the housing sector over the past few years have been enormous; it’s hardly recognisable to the old industry 20 years ago. Everyone is more tech savvy, not least with the internet of things and greater commercialisation of IT. Winning large-scale contracts which bring real benefits to our customers has been a highlight. I have learnt a lot about bringing existing systems together, as well as fulfilling tenders from the start to completion of the process. I really enjoy networking, meeting new people and discussing their challenges and developing new ideas and ways of working. It’s really satisfying to see a solution introduced into an organisation which improves the way people view their jobs and allows them to focus on different aspects of the role.
I juggle full-time working with family life and wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of family and friends. I have two energetic children, aged ten and six, who keep both my husband Lloyd and I incredibly busy. When I do get time to myself, I enjoy reading and am loving the current gin-bar culture!
I have always volunteered; aged 23, I was the youngest member of the board of visitors at HMP Leeds. My legal background made me passionate about social injustice and I am proud to have volunteered for eight years. Since then, my volunteering roles have revolved largely around family life with the NCT and, of course, the PTA, with the odd spot of fundraising with clients such as the firewalk with First Choice Homes Oldham for TOG Mind. Life is certainly not routine or dull!
Nicola Brown is the sales director at ROCC.