Direct Works Team

All our steering group members have extensive experience working in social housing maintenance and asset management and are working hard to make sure that Direct Works is for you, and you receive great value from your membership.

Direct Works Officers

Russell Thompson

Russell Thompson

Chair

Consultant

With his roots firmly in property maintenance, Direct Works Chair, Russell Thompson’s understanding of the sector, from strategic to granular, encompasses Repairs & Maintenance and DLO’s, Asset Management, Building Safety, Compliance, Bidding, Disposals and Acquisitions. Russell has operated at Executive level for the last 20 years and has helped a number of organisations grow and succeed in delivering excellent services to customers. Russell’s number one passion is seeing people and teams grow and develop in their roles, and he prioritises making a difference, supported through official and non-formalised coaching and mentoring. Working with other associations and a regional chair of CIOB, Russell is known for his ability to help organisations transform, through collaborative working and talent acquisition, personal development and succession planning strategies.

Jo Whittall

Jo Whittall

Vice Chair

Cluid Housing

Currently Clúid Housing’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer, Jo has over 30 years’ experience working with both contractors and housing associations, moving client side a decade ago. During his career, Jo has founded, built and transformed maintenance businesses. Jo is all about creating and enabling positive and collaborative working cultures in organisations, developing teams where people are comfortable, confident and competent in their roles.

Jo’s mantra is to create teams who want to be a little bit better every day and who don’t let perfect get in the way of good, especially during the pains of fast growth businesses. A creative but commercial thinker, Jo works with members on how to get the best results, not just be blinkered to contract deliverables.

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Treasurer

Tristar Consulting

An accomplished Property Director with substantial experience of providing consultancy, project management, and interim services to housing providers who directly deliver maintenance services. Mike is a critical friend to many Direct Works members. He has a proven track record of helping organisations to review, modernise and improve their in-house contracting services, creating organisations that offer great customer service and demonstrable VFM.
In addition to supply chain operations, he has particular expertise in interim role management and through empathy and trust building, can get to root causes of problems quickly, never putting profit ahead of integrity. Like Russell, Mike is a proponent for Jobs for Life in the sector and is all about putting the focus on task instead of trade.

Direct Works Steering Group

Richard Hazard

Richard Hazard

East Suffolk Council

A well-known name in the housing sector, Richard Hazard has significant experience in property management and has led, managed and completed many high net worth projects within budgetary and time constraints. With specialisms in compliance audits, leadership
change management, Health & Safety/CDM compliance and HHSRS building compliance, thanks to Richard’s hands-on experience of delivery, he is here to help members with managed repairs, planned maintenance, refurbishment. compliance and in particular fire remedial projects.

Richard is passionate about building excellent networks and forging strong working relations with clients, residents and leaseholders through his understanding of the different challenges faced by Local Authority and Housing Association providers. A firm believer in ‘Don’t wait unto it happens. Get ahead”, Richard is also a great member resource when it comes to emerging digital solutions for asset management and compliance.

Phil Pemberton

Phil Pemberton

The Riverside Group

Phil is a highly experienced housing professional with over 35 years’ experience, and many years’ experience of working at Director level within a number of organisations specialising in property and assets management.
Phil is currently employed by the Riverside Group and is responsible for Strategic Asset management and Delivery in respect of the organisation’s portfolio of over 55,000 properties. Over the last nine years Phil has also held non-executive positions including currently being a member of Torus Group Board and Chairing Fusion 21 Advisory Board. As part of Phil’s responsibilities as a non-executive he has six years’ experience as Chairman of an Audit and Risk Committee.

Paul Longman

Paul Longman

South Essex Homes

With rich and varied experience across Asset Management and heading up major capital projects, Paul is an operational specialist, who helps members improve efficiencies and implement practical business improvements across the repairs, voids and response disciplines.
Never afraid to question or playing the critical friend role and asking people to remove blinkers, Paul is passionate about inspiring excellence, supporting the development of fellow building and housing professionals.

Liz O’Connor

Liz O’Connor

Mosscare St Vincent's Housing Group

Liz has over 20 years' experience working in the housing sector and is currently Director of Homes and Places at Yorkshire Housing where she is strategic lead on the development of the Homes and Places Directorate, ensuring the organisation delivers a customer obsessed service that provides value for money.
It’s this ‘customer obsession that has driven Liz throughout her career, always aiming for every social housing customer to have a place they’re proud to call home. Liz is not afraid to hold up a mirror to housing providers and advise on where tenant engagement can be improved, and communities can thrive.
An ambassador for the often over-looked repairs sector, which has seen a significant surge in complaints across the UK since COVID, Liz firmly believes that residents’ voices need to be heard. As a sector, we should never forget that they are the customer and through collaborative working and knowledge-sharing through Direct Works, Liz is to the ‘go-to’ person for help on front line services with extensive advice on how housing providers can ensure that whenever their operatives leave a home, they are leaving a resident who feels happy and that their problem has been resolved.

Mark Coogan

Mark Coogan

St Leger Homes

When it comes to a career of engendering collaboration, you need look no further than Mark Coogan. A proven senior strategic, commercial and social housing specialist with an excellent record of achievement throughout his career, Mark has worked both contractor side and for clients, and is currently Head of Repairs and Maintenance at St Leger Homes. Passionate business developer and leader of change
Having started his housing career in the trade, Mark has a real understanding of how buildings and homes work and is well placed to advise members on how best to implement the Building Safety Act, FRA works, Damp and Mould strategies, and decarbonisation works from a practical and compliance approach.


Mark wants to make a difference to people’s lives by building motivated, empowered delivery teams based on solid structures and communication. He values being generous with his time and expertise and is keen to give something back to sector through his involvement with Direct Works. As Mark says, none of us have the answers all the time, but through collaboration and open and honest communication and knowledge sharing, we can make strides forward.