Midlands & East Representative Dan King
Mobilisation, Training and Performance Manager for Host
What do you enjoy most about working in student accommodation?
Having worked in the sector for over 13 years, I often think there is nothing else that I could possibly see that I haven’t seen at some point in the past. I am, on every occasion, wrong in thinking this. The landscape is constantly changing, and no two days are the same (especially when you’re on the front line in a site-based role!). I think that ultimately student accommodation, whether University or privately owned, is a people business and I enjoy the strong relationships that are forged between private providers, universities, and students, who, after all, are the very reason we’re all here.
Can you provide details about a specific student accommodation project that you’ve been involved in, that you’re really proud of?
Within one of my previous roles as a Property Manager, I mobilised a site in Leicester from the initial stages of the build through to it’s seventh (!!) year of operation. Having been in the city for a while, I worked hard to build and maintain relationships with local partners, universities and providers. Even through several years of uncertainty and change management as a result of the pandemic, I successfully managed all aspects of the building and would often trial and implement new ideas to improve the customer experience. In 2019 as a direct result of the initiatives I’d implemented within my building, I was awarded Unsung Hero of the Year at the Student Housing Leadership Awards. It was great for my work to have been acknowledged not only internally for the nomination, but externally by the awarding body. I guess this made me feel incredibly proud!
What does ASRA mean to you?
ASRA is a community where you can connect with like-minded people to share ideas and re-think the norm. You’ll often find that burning questions are asked and answered through jiscmail, and its great being able to reach out and support others when they ask something you know about or have seen. Regional meetings (along with Conference) are a great space to network and meet new people in a less formal setting, and you often find that others are going through the same daily pressures as you, which can certainly be a comfort!
What is your best ASRA memory?
I think my best ASRA memory would have to be my first conference in 2018 which was held in Birmingham. I remember being so excited to meet lots of new people from different providers and institutions (who completely understand how mad the sector we work in can be) along with spending time with my colleagues from Host and attending so many training sessions I managed to fill a note pad over the course of two days. Having not been before, I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be hugely insightful and I was able to go back to work with loads of ideas to try and replicate or implement. I also managed to connect with a few of the guest speakers, who we ultimately ended up inviting to our own company training days over the following couple of years.
Thoughts on the future
Student accommodation will continue to grow and grow, and as it does, I believe it will continue to diversify as much as it has done in recent years. There are lots of positive changes that have been introduced to accommodation as standard since I first started back in 2010, and new buildings have continued to re-think, re-model and re-brand themselves as top spec luxury living. I do feel, however, that we will see an upsurge in well-presented lower spec accommodation, along with accommodation being specifically built aimed towards couples and families. I do think that older accommodation buildings will continue to be popular, especially given the challenging economic environment amongst the cost-of-living crisis. However, lower cost does not always mean lower quality and I think this will give individual accommodation employees their time to shine!
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