Exit site
06 March 2024

Cash-collection-on-a-bike to Yorkshire Housing CEO

We talk to Nick Atkin, Yorkshire Housing’s CEO as National Careers Week continues - about his career and the journey he has made across the north, from his first housing role in Warrington back to his roots in Yorkshire. 

Tell us about when you started out in housing

Really wish you hadn’t asked this as I’ve never thought about it until now! I graduated in 1990 and got my first housing job with Warrington Council.  

I used to travel the mean streets of Warrington collecting rents on my motorbike with a couple of thousand pounds in a leather satchel. It would never happen now!  

Why did you decide to join the sector?

I’m one of a rare breed of people who actually chose housing as a career rather than falling into it. My degree was Geography and Environmental Studies at Manchester and the last two years were all housing related modules.  

I graduated during a recession and was fortunate to have a choice of two jobs – a temporary rent collector with Warrington Council or a graduate store manager for B&Q in Penrith. As I don’t like the cold, the prospect of being stuck in a big shed in one of the coldest and wettest parts of the UK didn’t appeal to me so housing was the choice for me!  

How has your career has progressed – what jobs have you had?

I’ve been really fortunate in my career as I’ve had several opportunities that I wasn’t ready for but where previous managers put faith in me and supported my transition. I’ve mentioned that I started at Warrington Council where I collected rents. I then moved to what was one of the toughest parts of the town before moving on to manage a small estate-based office and the team there.  

I then moved to the bright lights of Manchester City Centre where I worked for what was Northern Counties HA (now Guinness) and managed homes in some of the toughest parts of the city – in Whalley Range, Clayton, Ardwick, Beswick and Moston. I then secured a promotion managing the Blackburn Office which also included the stock in the South Lakes.  

From there I moved to what was William Sutton (now Clarion) as Area Manager (West Midlands) which was based in Stafford but covering stock in Birmingham, Tamworth and right down to Rugby. I clocked up a fair few miles in that job!  

I then moved to the Audit Commission Housing Inspectorate where I was Head of Housing for the north of England. This basically was managing the inspection teams for all Councils (and subsequently HAs) from north of Staffordshire all the way up to the Scottish borders. This was a great job but was mega intensive and pressurised. It acted to supercharge my career as, after five years, I then secured my first Chief Executive role, leading Halton Housing.  

After 13 years, mostly wonderful years, I then joined Yorkshire Housing in April 2019.  

Why did you join YH and what are the opportunities here?

I joined Yorkshire Housing as it offered me the opportunity to change how housing services are delivered. There was the clear ambition and scale to enable this to happen - and so ‘reactive to pre-emptive’ was born! There was also the added bonus of ‘coming home’ to my Yorkshire roots.  

As many of us at YH know it’s an amazing organisation to be part of and my aim is for everyone to look back at their time with us as one of the highlights of their career.