Claire Kober OBE - Managing Director of Homes at Pinnacle Group

Posted on 24 March 2020

Susan Freeman

Hi, I’m Susan Freeman, welcome back to our PropertyShe podcast series brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum where I get to interview key influencers in the world of real estate and the built environment.  The current situation means we are, for the first time, recording the podcast digitally so, please bear with us if the sound quality isn’t up to our normal standard. 

Today I am delighted to welcome Claire Kober OBE.  Claire is the Managing Director of Homes at Pinnacle Group where she oversees the company’s housing, estates and property management contracts and leads its delivery of high quality and innovative housing management services.  Claire works in partnership with a range of clients in Local Government, institutional investment and development.  Claire is also Independent Director and Chair of the Board of House by Urban Splash, the joint venture between Japan’s biggest housebuilder Sekisui House, Homes England and Urban Splash, and it’s focussed on upscaling the creation of homes using modern methods of construction.  Prior to joining Pinnacle, Claire spent a decade in Local Government as Leader of the London Borough of Haringey where she prioritised improving education outcomes for all children, widescale regeneration and delivering better housing.  Claire is also a former Chair of London Councils, the regional body that brings together the capital’s 32 boroughs to lobby for fairer funding and a better quality of life for Londoners.  In 2015, Claire was awarded an OBE for services to Local Government.  So, now we are going to hear from Claire on her career journey to date and her recent move from the public to the private sector. 

Claire, good afternoon.  I am not going to say welcome to the studio because obviously due to current circumstances, we aren’t able to be together as planned so the sound quality may not be perfect but we’ll do our best.  So, Claire, where are you speaking to us from?

Claire Kober

So, I am speaking to you from my kitchen in north London where, like I suspect much of the rest of the world, I have been holed up for the last few days working from home which feels like a very new and different experience and I have to say until now, I have found working from home, sort of one day a week where that’s possible, to be a really positive thing; I suspect by the end of this period, however long that might be, I will be feeling a bit differently about working from home.    

Susan Freeman

I think we are all in the same boat.  I mean, it’s a real learning curve.  How are you going to cope with these schools closing?

Claire Kober

I think that’s going to be interesting.  I think, well, the first thing to say is, the thing I did at 6.15 this morning, along with a hundred other people as the app told me, was to buy a trampoline for the back garden which the children have been badgering me for, for some time but just thinking about what happens in London over the next couple of weeks and the need to self-isolate and the need to exercise small children.  So, that’s certainly one priority.  In terms of home schooling more broadly, I suspect that on Monday I will be thinking about how I can use the opportunity to educate the children in the classics and the like, and by Thursday afternoon I suspect we will have given up and they will be having screen-time seven hours a day.  But let’s see. 

Susan Freeman

Well, the trampoline sounds… I think I’ll get a trampoline myself, a really good idea.  And presumably, members of your team because the, I mean the day job is managing director of Homes at Pinnacle Group, you presumably have a lot of people that you have to manage who have similar problems and have families to manage.  Are you beginning to get that into shape?

Claire Kober

Yes, it’s been a very busy week and a half I think on that front as things have become more apparent in terms of the direction in which we are travelling.  I guess for a company like Pinnacle, the challenge is that we have a proportion of our staff who are based in our central office in Euston who are desk-based who can pick up their laptops and go and do much of their job from home, and then we have a bunch of staff who, you know I would always say are the face of our company, who are out there in communities doing really important work and that could be anything from acting as property managers on the ground, it could be cleaning or being a concierge or being a caretaker, it could be being a housing officer on behalf of a Local Authority client and for those people, you know for whom their job you know really being on the front line engaging with the public, adjusting to the changes that we have seen in the last few days in London and around the country, is much more challenging and they really do perform essential roles so working through that with a business that faces both sort of internally but externally and towards the public is quite the challenge really and something that I suspect many others are grappling with.    

Susan Freeman

So, you basically, you manage housing services so, I mean how many people are you looking after, I mean and they must be really reliant on your team to, you know, try to carry on providing services and try and keep some, you know, positive spirit going.

Claire Kober

Absolutely.  So, we manage directly about twenty seven and a half thousand homes and the thing that Pinnacle does that’s unique, I would say, is that we work across all tenures so, we are a company that started off working with Local Authority partners and managing social housing and estates and we then moved into block management on behalf of a number of private sector clients, we also work for Housing Associations and cooperatives and more recently as the market has changed, we manage private rented build to rent schemes as well.  So, we have a whole host of responsibilities and actually the way that we conceive our role really is managing communities rather than managing individual properties and managing looking after places effectively.  So, we think about it from a very wide ranging perspective and that adds a particular complexity and challenge to the circumstances today so there’s not, you know, our experience in the last couple of weeks is that there’s not a simple sort of off the shelf solution to a scenario like this because of the very varied nature of the contracts that we are engaged in and we really are having to work with the people who are expert, the people who know those communities where I’ll have frontline staff to do the best we can in the circumstances, of course, speaking to our clients and working with them and every step of the way. 

Susan Freeman

And, it’s going to become I imagine increasingly stressful because, you know, we are sort of we are the beginning of it now and people are only just beginning to realise that, you know, we don’t know quite how long this is going to be and I think this is something that you would never have dreamt of having to deal with when you took on the role so I suppose you just have to play it every week, see what comes up and deal with it as best you can but people just aren’t going to be happy and I suppose you are going to be, I don’t know whether you are going to be providing digital facilities, whether there’s, you know, some sort of helpline, you know, keep fit class, you know, people are having to come up with new ideas.

Claire Kober

Absolutely.  I think, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s the uncertainty in terms of the length of time that we are talking that is most unsettling for people and I think it makes it most challenging to organise and plan and plan ahead.  We also run an out of hours contact centre and just looking at the demand on that in the last week has gone through the roof and increasingly clients saying, ‘Look, can you help us out during the daytime as well because we are struggling’ and like everyone else, the challenge we have is with increasing numbers of staff self-isolating, it’s a very difficult time to take on more even though instinctively as a business, we want to be responsive and we want to be able to help so, yeah, that’s certainly challenging but it’s the length of time that we are talking and the unknown there that is most challenging.  I guess the thing that I find particularly sort of interesting and I have reflected on a bit over the last week is that as every day passes and the situation changes so our ability to kind of cope with the next thing, is really quite, I think, quite amazing, you know, and you see that not only within your own organisation but I think we all see it with other organisations as well, you know, a week ago we were not looking at a scenario anything like the one we are looking at today.  If I think of it from a personal perspective, you know, a week ago I was thinking well it’s likely that I was meant to be running the London Marathon in April, it’s likely the Marathon is going to be cancelled and my training will have, you know, gone down the tube.  That feels, when I look today and the likelihood is that London maybe in lockdown by the weekend, we’ll have to see, my children are going to be home-schooled potentially for a period of up to sixteen/seventeen weeks, and the family are going to be advised that we shouldn’t be leaving the house apart from absolute emergencies; that feels such a different scenario but, you know, like everyone and like our, and this is reflected in our businesses and our professional life, we all sort of just soldier on really.

Susan Freeman

I think we do because last week, I mean we spoke a week ago and it seemed, you know, quite logical to be getting together in the studio to record a podcast and then, you know, suddenly it isn’t so, I think resilience is going to be the name of the game and you’re known as a strong advocate for change in championing new ideas so I think, you know, those qualities are going to be incredibly important in the coming weeks aren’t they?

Claire Kober

Well, I think it brings a whole new complexion to the issue of management and leadership and, you know, how you do that when you have your staff working away from you because actually it’s quite simple to do that, we know how to do it when you are physically based in an office with a group of people when you can meet them face-to-face, when you can catch up with them very easily.  Now, you know, just conducting meetings electronically, it’s different, it’s something that we are not used to and how we, it’s not so much the challenge of this week where it’s in many ways a novelty, it’s how sort of four/five weeks in working with these sorts of arrangements and with some of our people being expected to be out performing frontline roles and others in back office roles.  How do we keep people motivated, keep them feeling positive and keep them feeling connected to their co-workers is the real challenge for me and I am not sure that anyone has the answers to this, I think like many other people I am reading a lot and thinking about it a lot and listening to podcasts but there is a whole bunch of strategies that we are going to need to deploy and I think we’ll need to look at other sectors to think about how people have, working in very different contexts have tackled the same sorts of challenges that we are perhaps facing for the first time. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, I think it just seems to be a steep learning curve all across, you know, across the board because we are having to get good at doing things that we didn’t have to think about before.  Just, I mean, going back to your role at Pinnacle and you mentioned working with Local Authorities and, you know, this is an area I know that we’ve talked about and in a minute we’ll, you know, we’ll talk about your previous role working, or leading a Local Authority, but now that you’ve moved from public sector, if you like, to the private sector does that cast the spotlight for you on, you know, what everybody talks about, you know, the differences between public sector and private sector and, you know, why there are issues when people get together to try and put a project together to try and agree on how to go forward on a development.  Do people think differently?  Or is it that we just approached things in the wrong way?

Claire Kober

Often, I think it’s not the that there’s a different way of thinking actually, you know, in many respects it’s that we use different languages, we have different sensitivities and sometimes different priorities on a day-to-day basis but often I think the strategic alignment is something that you can achieve and that’s hugely important but I think the challenge of thinking through how do we get this relationship right and fundamentally relationships between public and private sector are Local Authorities and developers are the same as relationships in any other area of life.  They are critical to getting… if you get the relationship right, you can get the outcome right, in my view.  Now, there are things that can come along and throw you off course and that’s very, very possible but we have to think about and what people have to enter a relationship believing is that the other side has good intent as well and you should only be entering a partnership or a relationship with a private or Local Authority partner, depending on which side of the fence you sit, if you believe that the person, the organisation sitting across the table from you, has a similar outcome that it is desiring and is well intentioned and I think sometimes on that I, you know, I do sometimes see some elements of the public sector think that the public sector alone has a monopoly on good intent or good ideas and I think all sectors and individuals within those sectors have something to contribute.  If you start with that suspicion, there’s a problem, it’s never going to be right. 

Susan Freeman

So, let’s talk about your previous role.  You were Leader of Haringey Council for ten years and you were also Deputy Chair of London Councils which is the body that represents interests of our 32 London borough councils.  You stood down in quite a… in the middle of a controversy over the plans to regenerate, to provide, I think 6,400 new homes and I think it would have been London’s biggest public-private regeneration partnership.  Can you talk about, you know, what went wrong?  Of is too big a subject?  I am not quite sure where we start. 

Claire Kober

So, I am an optimist.  So, let’s start with what went well.  I think what’s critically important is for Local Authorities, Local Authority leaders both politicians and officers, to recognise that councils have a key role, a fundamental role, as leaders of place because the democratic mandate that politicians bring combined with the range of statutory responsibilities that councils hold means that when you bring those things together there is no other body that has a legitimacy to call itself a leader of place in the way that a council does, and for too many years councils, and I would say this particularly a lot of London boroughs and a borough like Haringey actually, would shy away from that role, would say ‘We’re about the provision of services, we’re about serving the vulnerable and that that’s where our role starts and ends’ and no one would say that they are not important things but that’s not the be all and end all of a council and to leadership a place is a fundamental role and if I look at the HDV it was an expression first and foremost of saying leadership of places is important.  If I look at some of the kind of the components of what was good in that, you know, this was as you’ve alluded to, something that became very controversial, it was an incredibly complex public procurement exercise and it was an exercise in public procurement that was tested in the Courts and ended with a judicial review that was dismissed on all counts.  So, you know, I take that as a real positive in terms of the professionalism of all of those involved and I am particularly thinking Local Authority-side and also on the side of our private partner and all of the advisors that were in place that, you know, that process was gone through absolutely thoroughly and correctly and I take a lot from that because I think there are lots of other example of public sector procurement where we can say it went much less well and did not stand up in the Courts in the way that this did.  I think the other thing that I would say that was really positive is that the partnership with Lendlease with the private sector partner stood up throughout this, remained positive in the face of real relentless challenge and having shifted sectors myself, having worked in the public sector which is used to having rocks thrown at it, used to having, you know, social media comment constantly and therefore is quite resilient to that sort of attack I guess you may call it.  Private sector, generally, in general terms, is much less comfortable with that for very obvious reasons and, you know, I do look at the fact that that partnership held together, the fact that, you know, frankly Lendlease stood there and did, I thought, a fantastic job of being resilient is another sort of plus point that I take from it.  So, I don’t look at the experience wholly negatively, I think there are real positives and I think that people still talk about the model that we’d put in place there as something that provides a solution that is equivalent to the scale of the housing crisis that we face in London and that was the starting point of the Haringey Development Vehicle was a recognition that a council is a leader of the place that we face a housing crisis in our capital which is unprecedented and unparalleled and that fundamentally with the greatest will in the world, councils alone cannot tackle that challenge.  The only way you are going to tackle it is working in partnership bringing what the public sector brings in the form of a council, land, community, knowledge, a vision for place and then marrying that with what partners in the private sector or even, you know, in the Housing Association sector quite frankly as well have to offer in terms of experience of development, the expertise and crucially finances and then the other thing that the private sector can really do, again Housing Associations can operate in this space is that ability to work at scale and at pace in a way that I think there are even now few councils that I could say look there’s a track record and an ability to do that so, again I’d say HDV may not be the answer, certainly there aren’t other councils at the current time pursuing a similar approach but the question still hangs, doesn’t it, we’ve got a huge housing crisis in this city and how are we going to tackle it and there are lots of interventions and approaches that I see but how do we work in the long-term and in a way that councils don’t simply relinquish control, as we’ve seen in the past and that was the other bit that was up front and centre of the Development Vehicle was that need to retain control as a council by entering a 50:50 joint venture rather than simply parcelling land up, selling it off, taking the capital receipt and investing it in something else. 

Susan Freeman

I think you are absolutely right, I mean it seems to me that it has to be about collaboration, people trusting each other and working together so I wonder whether, you know, what happened to you and what happened at Haringey will have put off less sort of brave councils from going down that road because in many ways for a lot of them, it seems to be easier not to do anything because you get criticised, politics gets in the way and I know it’s something that, you know, we have discussed at our dinners at the Labour Party conference in previous years and, you know, it’s a concern and I know at our dinner last year, we had a couple of leaders there, obviously you were there but they were talking about, you know, being physically threatened, actually being concerned about their own safety and it’s, you know, it’s a very difficult role trying to lead a council in those circumstances. 

Claire Kober

Yes, make no mistake though, being a council leader, being an elected politician, is still a privilege, it’s an absolute privilege, it’s, you know, it will always be a highlight of my life and of my career and there are things that I look at in the borough and I think ‘Wow, that was a team of committed politicians working with a team of committed officers and a bunch of partners and we did some absolutely brilliant things’ and most people are aren’t able to get that sort of sense of pride and satisfaction from their work so, it’s absolutely a privilege and it’s always something that’s only time-limited and therefore to my mind, political leadership is about doing the right thing, doing the right thing in difficult circumstances and recognising that it won’t be forever, you know, I’d rather, always rather, a hundred times over, be a political leader that could say ‘I got a bunch of things done and that cut short my tenure’ rather than saying, ‘Well, I was a political survivor, I managed a lifetime in it but there was a whole bunch of compromises that I had to make and decisions that I knew weren’t quite right but I survived’.  I’d be the former a hundred times over.  I guess I don’t want to sort of dodge the question of ‘What went wrong with the HDV?’ because clearly it didn’t happen so, something went wrong.  And I think there were a few things here, I think, you know, the first is I talked in positive terms about the process, about the procurement process being watertight.  On the flipside, what that did, that enormous process, the complexity of it, the legals around it, that sort of overwhelmed everything and I think what we did was we focussed on that, we focussed on that process and we focussed on the sort of macro messages to the market in terms of engagement and to the sector, to the exclusion really of building the community support at very, very grassroots level locally, you know, we recognised that down the line, we knew that it’s what people, you know that people were supportive of change, we certainly knew that from the conversations that we’d had over the years and in fact in the summer of 2017, a bunch of us engaged, and this was just as it was getting very controversial, a bunch of us engaged in a sort of community exercise where we knocked on every single door of the Northumberland Park estate and over the course of the summer and during that process I think we found three households that were against, people were overwhelmingly supportive but by that point in time, the issue had become toxic and none of those people really, we found a couple who were prepared to come and speak up, but people weren’t prepared to do that in any numbers so there was no, there was no voice of kind of proponents of the scheme coming from the community which would have been incredibly powerful and if I look back and say, you know, what was the one thing I would have done differently and prioritised, it would have been to do that from day one, to get teams of people out on the ground engaging with people day-to-day over a period of time such that we had a real group of advocates at grassroots level from the outset.  But then, I think you know, the other thing that changed in that period of time was politics changed fundamentally.  You know, this was a process, these are long-term processes, aren’t they?  The HDV was conceived in 2014, at that point in time Ed Miliband was leader of the Labour Party, there was still an acceptance in London which I am not sure is as prevalent today that public-private partnerships could be a force for good.  By 2017, we had Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party, politics more broadly had become much more defined by ideology rather than pragmatism and the Labour Party membership had changed almost entirely and much of the criticism of the Haringey Development bit did not come from Joe Public, people on the street, it came from Labour Party members and sort of left activists.  So, the context changed too but there were certainly things to, you know, to take away and to learn and I think others watched our experience closely and I think many of those lessons have been learnt and there is a good that comes out of that isn’t there because it can only be a good thing to engage communities more fully from the outset. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, and if you don’t try, there is no learning.  You mentioned, obviously being proud of being in politics and the responsibility of a leader.  I have to say, I am so impressed by London Councils, you know, led by Peter John and Darren Rodwell and that sort of coming together of the, you know, Local Authorities and trying to improve things and deal with things is pretty impressive and I know it’s something you were very deeply involved with in your time. 

Claire Kober

Yeah, absolutely and the thing about London Councils is it is a body of the 32 boroughs and the City and it’s committed to working in partnership recognising that people have different value bases, different political beliefs, represent different political parties but all of them regardless of political affiliation have a belief in the need for London to be the best city it can, to be the best city on earth and that sort of joint endeavour is the thing that really drives and powers the whole organisation and again it was a really brilliant thing to be involved in and working with, you know, you mention Peter and Darren but a whole bunch of other leaders, you know, I worked with a bunch of brilliant women leaders there, whether it was Lynn Peck or Clare Coghill or Sarah Hayward or Nicky Aitken or Philippa Roe from the Conservative side and just a group of people that were, you know, deeply committed and deeply impressive and, yeah, it really is an organisation that perhaps doesn’t have the kind of profile that it deserves but does very important work. 

Susan Freeman

And perhaps with what we are having to come to terms with at the moment, people see that politics should just not be allowed to get in the way, I think we all have to, you know, rote together more than ever before, you know, if we had a housing crisis before the coronavirus started, everything is going to get, you know, exponentially worse and it’s going, it really is going to need for people to work together.  

Claire Kober

Absolutely, and that’s actually that’s I think that’s a really good point because it’s why organisations like London Councils are important because what it does in bringing people together who have different politics, different beliefs but who are doing the same role, albeit in different boroughs, you recognise all of a sudden that there are so many more things that unite than divide people even if they wear a different political badge and therefore that’s what promotes people to work better together and because you understand what people are grappling with, you understand what they are trying to do and you have a respect for that which means that you respect the individual.  It’s a shame that in the way that our politics is organised inevitably you have oppositions and you have Governments whether they be regional, local or central and therefore there isn’t that kind of common understanding because people are trying to do different things and it’s remarkable when you bring a group of politicians together who are grappling with similar issues, they respect each other. 

Susan Freeman

And that’s positive and you were talking about the women leaders that you have dealt with and one of the things I wanted to ask you about, when you stood down from Haringey and in some of the interviews you gave at the time, you were talking about misogyny and you felt that even as a, you know, one of the most senior leaders of a London Local Authority, you were treated differently as a woman.  Is that something you can talk about?

Claire Kober

Yes, it’s something I felt very strongly at the time and it was something that I felt was particularly at the time, an issue that I had experienced in the Labour Party but, you know, I think it’s something that we see in all areas of life, isn’t it but, you know, still see women underrepresented at senior level at almost any sector you care to think of, certainly Government focussing on the representation of women in boardrooms is hugely important to my mind and just never losing sight of kind of that question of so, okay where are the women here and what does an organisation of a sector look like at senior level but also what does it look like at junior level and what are people’s experiences here?  And, I guess, you know, that’s always been important to me because I have always had, you know, my politics first and foremost was defined by a sort of politics of, women’s politics that was kind of feminist politics so it was something that I always thought about but I look at Pinnacle now, the organisation that I work in, and joining their senior team, I was the first woman on the team and I think all of my colleagues would say that, you know, my being part of that team changes the culture of that top team, I bring different experiences definitely, I sometimes bring a different view and what that does though is strengthen us as a team and so I guess, you know, I flag it as an issue because it’s important symbolically, I think it’s really important for, you know, young women, I think it’s important for girls, I think it’s important to see, to look into different sectors, look into industries and say I can see people who are like me.  But I also think it’s important for business, it’s important for leadership that we have, you know, teams that are reflective of the world that we live in rather than being composed or comprised simply of men. 

Susan Freeman

Yeah, I think that’s right and it’s often not so much a question of gender, it’s a question of thinking differently actually because if you have a whole lot of men that come from the same background sitting round a board table, you are not going to get much new thought or disruption or change really. 

Claire Kober

Exactly, it’s that, you know, it’s the whole thing isn’t it?  It’s always said that, you know, strong teams have to have a degree of cognitive dissonance, they can’t simply be comprised of people who think the same way because they have a similar experience and I think we have all been in situations where, you know, I’ve been on teams and in teams where there is a bunch of like-minded people around the table with similar experiences and it’s very comfortable and lovely but there’s a whole bunch of things that you miss, often the blindingly obvious things that are in front of your nose. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, and I think we are certainly going to have to call on diversity of thought, new ideas, more than ever at the moment.  So, let’s talk about your new role.  You are an Independent Director and Chair of the board of the exciting joint venture between Homes England, Urban Splash and Sekisui Housing.  I was so excited when I heard about that and I think I probably said to you, the news came through on the morning I was due to share a panel on innovation in housing and nothing very much had changed since I chaired a similar panel the year before and suddenly this email came through from Tom Bloxham saying ‘oh, you know we’ve got some interesting news’.  So, I think the hope is that, you know, we get some Japanese knowhow on offsite construction and that actually we can really think about offsite construction to some sort of scale so, what are you seeing?

Claire Kober

So, I am trying to avoid the cliché but I am not going to avoid the cliché, so there are a kind of marriages made in heaven and, you know, if you looked at a marriage made in heaven and you said okay, so we’ve got Urban Splash leading urban regenerator in this country, has an amazing track record, a real track record that’s about doing things that are difficult but doing them exceptionally, a real commitment to live its values as an organisation and a reputation that’s envied by many others, and then you team that up with Sekisui House, been around sixty years, one of the largest housebuilders in the world, has the potential in the UK to do what for housebuilding and offsite modern methods of construction what some of the Japanese car makers did for the motor industry, and then you team that up with some backing from Homes England.  That really does, to me, look like, you know, a marriage made in heaven, has the potential to be a gamechanger while recognising that this is a, in the UK it’s a new industry and there are a huge number of kind of challenges and hurdles to overcome and a lot of learning to be done but if you look at the kind of ingredients that you’ve got there, it’s so exciting and I’ve seen it described in lots of places, I think Property Week being one, as you know the deal the of decade and certainly does represent innovation so, yeah, an absolute honour to have been appointed to the Chair the board.  I have been involved now since the beginning of the year, a huge amount to do, thinking about scale, thinking about how you bring forward land, how you create the sorts of partnerships that are required, how you keep the design integrity, the great quality, everything that Urban Splash is renowned for when doing something at scale but the potential is enormous. 

Susan Freeman

It sounds like a fantastic role and I look forward to seeing some of these projects actually coming out of the ground, or out of the factory actually, that’s probably more appropriate.  So, you are also involved with the London Chamber of Commerce and Mishcon de Reya have been patron members for some years so there’s an involvement there and I think you are the property and construction ambassador?  So, there must be a really key role for the Chamber, particularly now, in supporting London businesses.  Has there been any sort of change in the way the Chamber is thinking about how it’s dealing with its members at this time?

Claire Kober

I think for the Chamber, like… the Chamber performs a really important role because what it does is brings together London business both small and large but particularly with that focus on smaller and medium-sized enterprises that in lots of other arenas can kind of, their voice can get lost, so I think it’s hugely important.  In terms of the current crisis then everything is so new for us all and is changing day-by-day but like everyone, just getting a handle on what’s happening, what different changes mean for different sorts of businesses and crucially making those representations to Government, to the Government that said look we want to do whatever’s required but, you know, the test there is going to be understanding what is required and responding to that and doing so in a timely fashion when cashflow is going to be the number one concern for so many people.  The Chamber has a really important role there and also has, and this is one of the things that it’s done over a number of years recently is, to have forged those much better relationships with Chambers around the country and indeed across Europe, and working with others, working in partnership at the current time, I think is going to be very important but doing so while understanding the commonalities between London and the rest of the country but also what’s different for London business.

Susan Freeman

Yes, well, I look forward to working with you on that.  We’ll see how things evolve but I was thinking it can only be a matter of weeks ago that we were sitting round having, you know, a very sociable lunch and Harry Handelsman was talking to us all about the Stratford Hotel and St Pancras Chambers, I mean it just, it seems like a parallel universe but we’ll have to get used to that.  So, you know you mentioned that you were training for the Marathon and obviously that’s been postponed, will you continue with the running and are there any other coping methods that you would recommend? 

Claire Kober

So, absolutely continuing with the running, I have always got a, at any point in time there is always a running challenge in my life so, the Marathon challenge is now just postponed until October but the running challenge before that was a 365 day running challenge which was you run at least 5 kilometres a day each day over that period of time which was a good challenge too.  And it’s interesting, it really is a kind of, I think a coping mechanism for so many people, myself included, that when all this talk of a London lockdown started, the first thing that I wanted to check out was whether the French lockdown prevented people from running and, thankfully, it doesn’t, you are allowed to go out and run as long as you are doing it alone and you are only going out for a run so, yep, absolutely remains an area of focus and in a way if I am looking at things positively, an October marathon is infinitely better than running one at the end of April when the weather could be 28 degrees, I suspect it’s not going to hit that sort of temperature in October, thankfully.    

Susan Freeman

Well, I think we just have to continue to be positive and hopefully we can have a conversation again in a couple of months’ time and see how everything is going so, Claire thank you very, very much and I hope you are able to, you know, carry on doing everything digitally and looking after your communities.    

Claire Kober

Thank you, it’s been a real pleasure. 

Susan Freeman

A huge thanks to Claire Kober for her positivity, particularly in relation to the regeneration project at Haringey and also great insights into the differences between working in the public and private sectors.  And I am now sufficiently motivated to work on my running skills.  So, that’s it for now, I really hope you enjoyed today’s digital conversation.  Please all stay safe and join us for the next PropertyShe podcast interview coming very shortly. 

The Propertyshe podcast is brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum and can be found at Mishcon.com/PropertyShe along with all our interviews and programme notes.  The podcasts are also available to subscribe to on your Apple podcast app and on Spotify and whatever podcast app you use.  Do continue to let us have your feedback and comments and most importantly suggestions for future guests and of course you can continue to follow me on Twitter @Propertyshe for a very regular commentary on all things real estate, Prop Tech and the built environment.

Claire joined Pinnacle Group in 2018 as Director of Housing to lead its delivery of high-quality and innovative housing management services. In February 2019 she was appointed Managing Director Homes overseeing the company’s housing, estates and property management contracts. Claire works in partnership with a range of clients in the local government, institutional investment and development sectors. She sits on the Pinnacle Group executive committee.
 
Claire is Independent Director and Chair of the Board of House by Urban Splash, the joint-venture between Japan’s biggest housebuilder, Sekisui House, Homes England and Urban Splash focused on upscaling the creation of homes using modern methods of construction.
 
Prior to joining Pinnacle, Claire spent a decade in local government as Leader of the London Borough of Haringey where she prioritised improving education outcomes for all children, wide-scale regeneration and delivering better housing. Claire is a former Chair of London Councils – the regional body that brings together the capital’s 32 boroughs to lobby for fairer funding and a better quality of life for Londoners and also represented the region on the London Enterprise Panel. She served as finance portfolio holder for the Local Government Association. In 2015, Claire was awarded an OBE for services to local government.

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