Gemma Richardson - Director of Care & Supported Housing, Graduate 2005
“Having completed my psychology degree I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do career wise, but I did know I was interested in working with people and wanted to get into management. Hightown’s graduate trainee scheme appealed to me as it was offering the opportunity to explore various work experiences across different settings.
"I started the trainee programme in 2005 along with three other graduates. As it was my first full time position straight out of university, I wasn’t sure what to expect and remember feeling apprehensive, nervous and excited all at the same time. I was assigned a mentor, Kim who supported me throughout the entire programme and I also had great peer support and a social network in the form of other graduates.
The programme has fast tracked me through my management career to date and at each step of the way I have been supported to help realise and fulfil my potential and achieve my own goals.
"For the first year and a half of my programme I completed various placements through Hightown’s
operational teams including Temporary Supported Housing, Income Recovery, Maintenance and Repairs and Housing Management. Each placement exposed me to a different front line service enabling me to gain a breadth of experience and build a broad understanding of the business. This helped me identify what I enjoyed doing, see where my strengths and weaknesses are, and ultimately decide where I wanted to concentrate my career.
"I was nearing the end of the two year programme when I successfully applied for a full time job with
Hightown as a Senior Housing Officer, I then progressed onto work as part of the middle management team as a Housing Management Team Leader.
"I then became part of the Senior Management team at Hightown and worked as an Area Manager specialising in short term supported housing services, an area I first became interested in having completed a graduate placement.
"Now I am joint Director of Care and Supported Housing and have been with Hightown for over 15 years. It has gone so fast! The programme has fast tracked me through my management career to date and at each step of the way I have been supported to help realise and fulfil my potential and achieve my own goals.”