In the executive chair with: John Hannigan CEO, Circle Voluntary Housing Association & Chair of The Housing Alliance

by | Apr 3, 2023

As a influential voice and leader in the delivery of social housing in Ireland, John Hannigan is the CEO of one of Ireland’s top five Approved Housing Bodies, Circle VHA. As chair of The Housing Alliance, he also strives for the industry to ‘do more’ in its contribution to Housing for All.

His ethos is to challenge barriers to delivery and bring an innovative approach to meet social housing targets, providing much needed-homes for those in housing need.

During his five year tenure at the helm of Circle VHA, he has grown the company’s portfolio of social housing homes and managed services and delivered on a growing number of direct construction projects.

Hannigan has over 30 years’ experience in the housing sector, including senior roles with Sunbeam House Services and Respond Housing Association, Senior Executive Level roles with KPMG, Grant Thornton and EY, and as Group Director and Company Secretary in the UK for large Registered Social Landlords (Accord and Prime Focus).

With titles including Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Fellow of the Association of Certified Accountants and a chartered member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, he is also a member of the Board of the Irish Council for Social Housing, Chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Ireland and a member of the CIH governing board and its Finance Audit and Risk Committee.

What project are you most excited about?

We have a number of delivery projects delivering more than 1,500 social and affordable homes across the country. It’s great to see people getting their first home. We are also working on a diversity and equity project with two other Approved Housing Bodies and this will change lives.

How do you approach long-term planning and strategy?

Carefully and slowly and with a great degree of evidence-based research and with complete organisational involvement. We also like to ‘Blue Sky’ in what we do and try to find things that others are not doing, to try to make a difference.

What digital tools or technology are you embracing to get work done?

I love tech, anything that makes it quicker or easier. I’ve recently started using a Remarkable 2 and would highly rate it. Paperless with a paper feel. I’m really enjoying it.

What are the big industry trends you’re noticing right now?

The move towards forward funding of significant capital projects and the need for investment in the Approved Housing Body sector. It’s been reliable and consistent over the years. It can do more, and wants to do more.

Who’s impressing you most in the industry at present?

Cairn Homes and Glenveagh Homes. Both are bringing innovation to the delivery of homes and working with AHBs to do more.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake?

Thinking that I was doing the right thing but not bringing everyone with me and that doing the right thing would be enough.

Always take time to bring the team with you, make sure they understand and are bought into the new way the right way. It’s so important to the success of the whole plan.  Moving from vision to reality is never easy and you need a lot of people with you.

Who’s your role model within the industry or wider business community?

Brian O’Gorman, CEO at Clúid. He has been in post almost 30 years and has transformed himself, his organisation and the sector several times in that time. He is an amazing thinker who gets what it means to have the right people along side.

Best podcast you’ve listened to recently?

The Big Fish podcast with Spencer Matthews, especially the episode with Piers Morgan. I’m not a fan of Piers, but the interview was well-handled and quite insightful.

What’s your passion when you’re not at work?

Grandchildren, music and rugby, though not necessarily in that order!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Always work at something you love, you’ll never work a day.

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