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From Newcomer to Leader: Katie Smart's Journey of Impact and Growth

Katie Smart Customer And People Stories

In a powerful story of strength and resilience, Katie Smart, Director for Places for People Scotland, shares her remarkable journey of transformation within Places for People. Starting 13 years ago as someone new to the housing sector, Katie found herself on a significant learning curve. Now, she's a leader making a big difference in our Communities. Her story shows us how she kept going, always learning and improving. We caught up with her for a chance to explore her experiences, hear what she's learnt, and see how she's making a difference in housing. 

Let's start by talking about your journey with Places for People. Can you walk us through how you joined the business and how you've ended up where you are today?

“Sure, it's been quite a journey. I joined 13 years ago when I moved to a new area and was in search of a permanent job. Back then, I didn't know much about housing or the role I was applying for, but it turned out to be the perfect fit for me. Starting as a Repairs Scheduler in the Maintenance Team, I gradually moved into other roles like audit, project work, and data reporting. Each role added to my experience and equipped me with the skills I need for my current position.”

It sounds like you've had quite a diverse range of experiences in your career so far. Did you always see yourself working in the housing sector, or did you have other career aspirations growing up?

“Honestly, I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted to do when I was younger. I've always enjoyed being busy and challenged, though. I'm naturally organised and thrive in a team environment, so I feel like I've ended up exactly where I'm meant to be, even if I didn't know it at the beginning. When people ask me where I worked before Places for People, I always say this is my "first proper job," because my experience here has shaped my career and personal life in ways I never imagined.”

Which of your qualities do you think have been most important in your success within your role at Places for People?

“I believe patience, understanding, and humility are crucial qualities in the housing sector. Whether it's collaborating with Colleagues internally or understanding the pressures faced by our sector, partners, and Customers externally, these qualities have helped me navigate challenges effectively and work towards positive outcomes.”

How has Places for People supported your career growth and personal life during your time with the company?

“I've received a lot of support over the years, both professionally and personally. The flexibility to balance work and parenthood has been priceless for me. Opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and coaching have allowed me to progress and develop new skills. Without flexibility, development and trust, I don't think I would be where I am today.”

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

“Patience! I’m a ‘get stuff done’ sort of person and sometimes this has been to my own detriment. I've learnt that taking time to process and prioritise things as well as working with my team helps achieve better outcomes. It's also important to trust in the expertise of others and not feel like I need to have all the answers myself.”

Finally, what has been your career highlight at Places for People?

“Without a doubt, my current role is my main highlight. Leading a team dedicated to tackling the housing crisis in Scotland is incredibly rewarding. Their dedication and hard work inspire me every day. Being able to make a difference alongside such passionate individuals is a privilege, and it's something I'm incredibly proud of.”

Katie’s journey from newcomer to leader shows the power of perseverance and continuous learning. Her experience at Places for People is a testament to her commitment to personal and professional growth. Through diverse roles and challenges, Katie has emerged as a respected leader driving impactful change within the business. Her story serves as an inspiration to others, highlighting the importance of resilience, humility, and collaboration in achieving success. As Katie continues to make a difference for our Customers and Communities, her journey remains a shining example of the potential within us all.

Read more on the great things Katie’s and her team at Places for People Scotland do.

Read more heart-warming stories from our Customers and People

We hope you found this story inspirational. If you would like to read more stories from around the Places for People organisation, check out more of our In My Own Words stories.  

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