The challenge of countering the housing shortage in the UK, in a cost effective, sustainable and community focused way, is spurring innovation within non-traditional building companies.
Leading the way in the housing revolution is Urban Splash. Renowned for it’s reimagining of neglected inner city buildings as contemporary living spaces, the Manchester based, nationwide company has turned its experienced eye to creating residential communities through the use of modular built homes.
In May 2019 Urban Splash announced a £90m investment deal with Sekisui House, Japan’s biggest house builder, and experts in modular home building. In conjunction with Homes England, the goal is to deliver 2,000 modular homes a year.
This ambitious project requires the purchase of land throughout the UK, and Urban Splash knew that hiring the right person was crucial to the success of their long term plans.
Going outside of their usual recruitment channels, they invited a handful of specialist construction and property recruitment companies to submit proposals on how they would find the right person to take on the Land Director role.
Alderpoint’s Anthony Kaye’s presentation convinced Urban Splash he was the perfect recruiter to help them with their search. As Urban Splash’s Group Director, Nathan Cornish says, “We don’t always use recruitment firms but we realised that with such an important role we needed some help to get the widest market exposure. We spoke to a few firms but Anthony promised a personal and targeted service, he wasn’t pushy, or cheesy and he even looked different.”
He was retained to begin the campaign to attract not only the right talent on paper, but also an individual who would fit well with the Urban Splash workplace culture.
The role had a broad brief of skills, and unusually for a land director, didn’t hinge on specific types of land purchases. Urban Splash were looking for someone with a spark, who could hit the ground running and head up their acquisitions team to roll out the project across the UK.
Finding the Right Candidate
To find someone who met this brief, Alderpoint created an innovative hiring campaign strategy. The post was advertised on standard industry websites, the FT, Guardian, and Property Week, was accompanied by headhunting, and utilised Urban Splash’s own videos with a specially created content marketing campaign on LinkedIn.
As Urban Splash rarely goes out to the market to hire people, the campaign drew a larger than normal list of applicants. Over 200 people were reviewed for the role, from which Alderpoint chose twelve to discuss with Nathan. Of the three people who went to through to the final interview stage, one person stood out, Katie Dean.
Dean had worked with heritage and listed buildings, as well as strategic land management. On paper, Kaye knew that Dean wasn’t a cookie cutter fit for the role, but once he met her, it was clear she was a perfect fit for Urban Splash.
Kaye said, “With the scale of the project, not many people met the broad experience and background requirements. I looked beyond the CV and took time to understand the applicants to see if they would be a good fit culturally for Urban Splash.”
For Dean, the attraction of working for Urban Splash was enhanced by Kaye’s approach, she says, “The process was focussed, the role and requirements were interesting and different to similar positions. From our initial chat and meeting, Anthony really understood where the business was heading and what type of person would fit. He struck the right balance of contact, but was also helpful and thoughtful throughout.”
For Nathan, working with Anthony has proved highly rewarding: “He gave us the personal and targeted service we wanted, and we are pleased with the results. I always ask candidates what they think of Anthony at interview, and the feedback is always positive.”
As Urban Splash grows the modular arm, Nathan and Katie worked closely with Alderpoint to hire the next round of key personnel: Head of Planning, Acquisitions Manager, and Acquisitions Surveyor – all of which were successfully placed after a retained search.