Spotlight on…

Mona Sachdeva, head of corporate services, Ashfield Homes Limited

In each edition of ConsortEM we shine a light on a member to show the variety of roles within the consortium. This month Mona provides an insight into working in-house for a council controlled company.

How long have you been with Ashfield Homes Limited?

I joined in 2006 as the company solicitor and took this post as a promotion in 2012, following a senior management restructure.

What does your role entail?

I am involved in and manage a range of in-house functions: legal, governance, HR, administration, performance and ICT. This means that I undertake a range of generic legal work. I miss specialising, but enjoy the variety.

To whom do you report? What is the structure of your team?

I report to the managing director of the company. I manage corporate services, but am a member of the company’s senior management team and advisor to our board of 12 non-executive directors.

What are the most pressing issues for you at the moment?

The council that owns the company wishes to revert to directly delivered services. Subject to the outcome of a statutory consultation, the council has determined to dissolve the company’s management agreement on 12 months’ notice. I am lead manager for the process.

What regulatory issues are on the horizon?

The forthcoming cuts to social rents are going to cripple the housing revenue account for the next few years. This in essence funds our area of business and investment. The changes to the welfare system will make those rents more difficult to collect and so will lead to an increase in arrears. The demand for affordable housing is on the rise, but there is no money to build.

How does Ashfield Homes Limited compare with other places you have worked?

I began my career in the private sector following completion of my ‘articles’ (how old?). Following extended maternity leave to have triplets (how efficient?), thoughts turned back to work (how mad?) and I decided to try public sector work (how selfless?).

I undertook interim contracts for Mansfield DC and Nottinghamshire CC before settling down to permanent pensionable service at Ashfield DC and then Derby CC in the class of Leslie.

When I moved here, the more corporate environment suited me. Decisions are made quickly and in a relatively politically neutral environment while retaining what is good about the not-for-profit sector. It is a vibrant working environment, with dedicated staff who love working here so, even with no flexitime, employees stay committed and work hard.

I believe in the council controlled company model but ultimately, as with any public sector service, it is subject to politics in some way.

I have worked with some fabulous lawyers wherever I have been and mentored some who have gone on to achieve so much. No one place compares to the other – each is unique.

What law would you like to see changed?

The law of averages, if you ever play Lotto you already know it is wrong.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Don’t ask a question unless you already know, or have a darned good idea of, the answer. This stands good professionally and personally.

Finally, two truths and one lie in any order.

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
  • There will always be many different versions of the truth.
  • It is a crime not to tell the truth in sworn testimony.