Five Minutes with Julia Mixter, Executive Director of Business Services.

5 Mins
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

In our latest edition ‘Five minutes with…’ interview, Tom Neely spoke with Julia Mixter, the newly appointed Executive Director of Business Services at Anchor. As we partner with Julia on the recruitment of a new Director of Technology and Director of People, we sat down with her to discuss Julia’s plans at Anchor and the type of leader she is looking to bring into her senior team. 

You joined Anchor this month as their new Executive Director of Business Services. What attracted you to join Anchor?

Anchor is committed to helping people enjoy later life through their provision of quality housing and care. I’ve long been a believer that there is so much we can do in this country to help people live better for longer. In the past I’ve felt that older people can be treated as second class citizens. Let’s face it, we will all get older, so we have both a responsibility and a vested interest in ensuring that the needs of people in later life are championed. Anchor is England’s largest provider of specialist housing and care for people in later life. Anchor speak up about issues that matter to older people and they have the scale and influence to make a difference. If you go into an Anchor care home, you see the pride and care among all colleagues; the way they know the life stories of each resident. That is so important for family members, to trust that their loved ones are getting the best care. So to have the opportunity to be part of the leadership team and to lead teams to support the mission of helping people in later life is a genuine privilege. Finally Anchor’s values of accountability, respect, courageousness and honesty together with their inclusive culture hugely appealed to me. I am very excited to join an organisation that is genuinely dedicated to making a significant difference in the community it serves.

As we look forward to the next 12 months, what are your key priorities and where will this lead Anchor?

In my first year at Anchor, I intend to hit the ground running by engaging directly with our people and our places—from colleagues to residents, from homes to care homes. My intention is to listen, ask good question, assess effectively, and identify what’s working and where we can elevate our standards. By diving deep into the everyday experiences of our teams and the communities we serve, I will ensure that our central business services not only support but significantly enhance our operational effectiveness.

My immediate focus will be on building strong relationships within my team and across the business and aligning our strategic efforts with Anchor's most critical business objectives. From quick wins that boost our day-to-day operations to strategic initiatives that drive long-term success, my roadmap will focus delivering tangible value across all business areas.

This approach is designed to ensure we are delivering brilliant basics while spearheading innovation and sustainability throughout our services.

 As we move into the next financial year, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for the sector to embrace?

The biggest opportunity for the sector lies in technological and data innovation and collaboration to enhance the quality of life for our residents and quality of work for our colleagues. Embracing these technologies will enable us to offer more personalised, efficient, and proactive services. And collaboration across Anchor and between housing associations, care providers, stakeholders and suppliers will be critical to successful adoption and implementation. 

And with, what do you see as the key challenges for the sector and in turn Anchor?

The key challenges for the sector include regulatory compliance, workforce sustainability, and maintaining high standards of care amid rising costs as well as being agile enough to pivot quickly in the face of another societal level shock. I think the key to regulatory compliance lies in the interplay between people, process, technology and data – having a quality operating model with ultra clear processes, responsibility and access to data. Workforce sustainability is a greater challenge as there is only so much you can influence at organization level; however there are so many roles across Anchor; it is in our gift to demonstrate how we can help every person in the organisation find their niche.  

We are partnered with you to recruit your new senior leadership team with the recruitment the Director of People and the Director of Technology recruitment – could you explain in more detail the scope of these roles?

The recruitment of these roles is pivotal to our strategic priorities. The Director of People will be all about delivering value – getting to the heart of the business at Anchor and understanding what is valued by colleagues and managers. To coin a well known phrase from Richard Branson, I think it is the role of people leadership to ensure we ‘train people well enough so they can leave and treat people well enough so they don’t want to’. I’m looking for someone who is also looking ahead – who can see the potential of concepts like talent marketplace to harness untapped skills across the business and who understands the importance of purpose at work. 

The Director of Technology is a really exciting role – here I’m looking for someone who can look across the whole application, data and infrastructure architecture and determine the technology roadmap that will see us optimise the value of the existing whilst horizon scanning for what is coming next so we are always one step ahead. IT is already doing an excellent job at Anchor and we should not disrupt what works well already; but change is ahead and I’m looking for a collaborative leader who will work with transformation and change colleagues in partnership to deliver value for Anchor. 

How will these roles play a part in the key strategic priorities for the organisation?

Anchor’s Business Plan has 4 mores – ‘More and Better Homes’, ‘More and better opportunities for colleagues’, ‘More influential – to effect improvements in how people in later life are supported in care and housing’ and ‘more efficient through innovation and improvement’ So you can see just how important the technology and people directorates are in delivering these aims – we must deliver an outstanding employee value proposition – one that attracts people to join Anchor and an experience once there that compels people to stay; And we must give people the tools they need to do their job – whether given to colleagues in support of customers; or directly to our customers to help them live well and safely in their homes. Anchor’s commitment to the strategic importance of IT and Data is inherent in everything I’ve seen and read to date, so for anyone who wants to make a difference at scale, these roles are for you. 

What are the key traits you are looking for in your new Directors? 

I’ve always loved what I call Peeple leaders – (we took this acronym into a leadership programme we delivered in a previous organisation)  - I enjoy working with people who are positive, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate and who deliver leadership excellence. I know not everyone leads in the same way, and I completely respect the need for balance, but I love working with leaders who inspire their teams with their positive energy. Alongside that, Anchor’s values are incredibly important to me -  Accountability courage, respect, honesty. If we have a working relationship built on these values, then I will personally and professionally support you to deliver excellence whilst in role and take your career wherever you want to thereafter. 

Do you have any advice for candidates interested in applying for these roles with Anchor?

Know who you are as a leader; the value you bring in terms of your experience and leadership behaviours; talk about how you lead and inspire your teams. Reflect on your purpose. Life’s too short to be unhappy in your role. These roles are a big responsibility in a large complex organization delivering vitally important care and housing to people in later life. If that appeals to your sense of purpose, then fantastic – please do apply.  Demonstrate how you genuinely care about Anchor, do your research and bring your ideas about how you can positively impact the business outcomes. Anchor offers amazing benefits and I know that the opportunities like these aren’t everywhere. Show us your passion for making a difference, your innovative thinking, and how you can contribute to a culture that values both care and excellence. In return, this could be the first step in the most rewarding career you’ll ever have. 

If you are interested in discussing these roles in more detail, please do contact myself or Eliot Jeffries for more information.  

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