Five Minutes with Margaret Dodwell, Chief Operating Officer at VIVID.

9 Mins
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

In our new edition ‘Five minutes with…’ interview, Founder and Director of Neemar Search, Tom Neely spoke with Margaret Dodwell, Chief Operating Officer at VIVID. Margaret joined VIVID eight months ago and has since then, embarked on a significant change programme within the operational front-facing teams. As we partner with Margaret on the recruitment of a new Director of Property Services and three Heads of Service roles in Housing Management, we sat down with her to discuss this journey along the VIVID's plans for the future and the type of leaders she is looking to bring into her senior team. 

You joined VIVID as their new Chief Operating Officer in October 2023. What attracted you to join VIVID?

I worked for VIVID as an interim for four months in 2018.  I really enjoyed that role and I followed its successes since then.  When this role came up it coincided with my CEO role at Lewisham Homes being made redundant and I was delighted to secure this opportunity.  

VIVID’s highest profile is for being a sector leader in the development of new homes.  I want us to be equally known for being a sector leader in customer service.   Delivering that was the main attraction.   

Since joining in October, you have led some significant change in your Directorate, what has been the priority and where will this take the organisation?

When you join any organisation it’s important to get under its skin and look at the services delivered to residents from the inside out and the outside in. Meeting customers’ needs and expectations with the homes they live in, and services and support we provide is our absolute priority.  

We’re partway through a business transformation programme and there is a big opportunity to shape how services are delivered and how technology can support this to improve customer experience.

Since joining VIVID, my two biggest priorities have been to increase the speed routine repairs are completed  and customer influence. 

When I joined we had a large balance of responsive repair jobs in our work-in-progress (WIP) and were slower than any of us at VIVID wanted to be in completing non-emergency repairs.  We took a cross team approach and have significantly improved.  There is great energy and a collaborative approach to really developing our repairs and maintenance services further and this is a key reason we want to appoint a dedicated Property Services Director.

We are currently midway through customer and staff consultation to develop our first Customer Influence Strategy.  The strategy and an action plan to deliver this will be presented to the Board in July.  It demonstrates our genuine commitment to embedding a culture of listening to our customers and acting on their feedback to ensure their influence leads to positive improvements in service delivery and outcomes.  It will support our Corporate Plan for 2023 – 2028, also developed in consultation with our customers and colleagues, which is centered around building trust, pride and impact.  

From a cultural perspective, how have you driven this positive change across the organisation? 

I have worked in housing for almost thirty years, and I am a real believer in the difference we can make to people’s live by providing quality homes and services.  I’m building on strong foundations already in place at VIVID.  My key messages are we should be unashamedly customer centric; I highlight the importance of collaboration – in fact I remind everyone it’s a superpower we all possess – and ensure that we keep a focus on value and efficiency.

It's important to create an environment where people and teams can be successful.  We are recruiting four new senior posts at the same time, and I’m excited to work with a new team to complement the talent we already have at VIVID.

We are partnered with you to recruit your new Director of Property Services and three Heads of Service in Housing – How will these roles play a part in the key strategic priorities for the organisation?

These four new roles have been created to improve services and outcomes for our customers; and they’ll all be key to shaping and leading how we do that, both individually and together.

As COO I will have two direct reports, the Property Services Director and the Customer Services Director, Alex Nagle who is already in post. Put simply the former will lead on looking after our homes and estates and Alex leads on services to our customers.  In reality we’ll work together to ensure we deliver a great customer experience.  Both Directors will be part of our Executive Management Group.

The three new Heads of Service will all be part of our Operations Management Team.   Alex is keen to really look at how we deliver services and maximise what we can achieve.  

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

We have a clear Corporate Plan that sets out our ambitions and we are all pulling together to deliver this.  I think this extract encapsulates that well.

The plan reflects the growth in demand for our services and support. We’re focusing on increasing investment in the quality, safety and energy efficiency of existing homes and neighbourhoods, as well as improving customer service to quickly achieve a step change through our people, processes and technology. We want to raise the bar for the benefit of our customers. Our purpose can grow our scale, influence and capacity to continue increasing the positive impact we bring to customers and communities and provide a more seamless service.

Personally, I am looking forward to welcoming and working with new senior team members and making a step change in the quality and consistency of services we deliver.

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

I hope we will recruit a group of people with a real blend of talents that will complement the current team. What I ‘d like to see in everyone is: 

  • Passion for what they do and the difference they can make.
  • Good communicators -who understand it’s two-way, being a good listener and able to delivering messages clearly
  • Tenacity, humility and loads of initiative.
  • A sense of humour

Do you have any advice for candidates interested in joining VIVID? 

 These are great opportunities for people to bring their whole self to work and take pride in delivering great outcomes for customers and creating an environment where our staff teams can do their best work.

If you are interested in learning more about the new Director of Property Services or Head of Service roles at VIVID, please do contact the Neemar Search team.

Director of Property Services:

Tom Neely |

Luke Joy | | 07539 799 141

Head Service Roles:

Tom Neely | |

Eliot Jeffries | | 07985 791 149

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