As we mark our 15th year in operation we’re celebrating all things past, present and future for South East Consortium. This month we’re looking back at our history, celebrating our current Members and suppliers, and looking forward to the future.

We were established in 2005 by several Housing Association & Local Authorities in response to the Government’s drive to achieve efficiencies through good procurement practices. The small group founded our Consortium with views to follow this guidance and promote intelligent procurement within the South East.

Flash forward to 2020 and our Membership has increased to 37 Housing Associations, Local Authorities and ALMO’s – managing over 380,000 homes between them. Many of our founding Members such as Town & Country Housing, West Kent Housing Association and Optivo are still with us today. And, we retain our heritage by being an organisation owned by our Members.

As we thought about how best to celebrate our 15th birthday we knew it was only fit to celebrate with those individuals who have got us here. We’ve asked ex-Board Members and long-standing members of staff for their key milestones and takeaways from the past 15 years.

Our Board

“I think the fact that SEC started as more of a collective, with all Members being equal and involved, was really different than the others that launched at a similar time. I remember being at board meetings with 15 or so organisations and whilst was difficult sometimes reach consensus, it felt very inclusive and created some great networking relationships. A lot of these are still in place today and I think SEC still does this really well.
The move to the levy structure was a critical turning point and one which took a lot of time and work to get through. But I think this shows that SEC are adaptable and willing to change and look at things differently.”

Marian Burke – 2010 - 2019, then at SEC Member Moat

“It seems such a long time ago when I was on the Board. I can remember it was a particularly challenging time for SEC. The expansion of the training provision was a particular success and at TCHG we saved in excess of £20k in one year.”

Simon Watts – 2009 – 2011, then at SEC Member Town & Country Housing

Our current Head of Operations is one ex-Board member who can provide a unique perspective.

“I first got involved with SEC in 2008 when I was working for Dover District Council so I have been involved with SEC for 12 years in different ways.

Dover joined SEC because of the benefits in using a framework and because of the ethos of the organisation. Shortly after this I became a Board member for SEC, which lasted until July 2016, when I retired as Head of Asset Management at East Kent Housing. However, I was not ready to give up work entirely so when I saw a part time role for a Procurement Officer advertised for SEC I decided that this looked good for me.

I started with SEC in this role in October 2016 and learnt about the procurement rules and how SEC managed these for our clients. In December 2017 my role changed to Technical Services Manager, which involved providing asset management advice to SEC and assisting SEC clients with their technical requirements. In March this year I became Head of Operations and this involves providing strategic advice for SEC and managing the procurement and technical functions of the SEC team. I love the culture of SEC and how we aim high and try to provide the best service we can. At the same time we are not content to sit on our laurels but want to do even more, as can be seen in our three-year strategic aims. I am proud of my involvement with SEC and feel very fortunate to work with such good people.”

David Ashby, 2009 – 2016, then at SEC Member East Kent Housing

Our Team

“I’ve been with SEC since 2014 and the time has just flown by! Since then we’ve expanded our offer, added team colleagues, and continued to welcome new Members and Guests to help them with their procurement and training needs. It’s also given us the opportunity of working with an increasing number of suppliers. As SEC has evolved we’ve made sure we always keep our customers at the heart of things, together with maintaining compliancy and transparency in all that we do. That’s always been important to us and won’t change.”

Louise Free, Procurement Manager - Partnerships (2014 – present)

“I’ve worked for SEC for 9 ½ years and have seen so many changes. When I first joined back in 2011 there were only 4 members of us in the team. Fast forward 9 ½ years and the team has grown to 11, soon to be 12. Members, framework usage and the SEC offer has also changed / increased considerably over the years.”

Tracy Shepherd, Procurement Partner (2011 – present)

It’s clear from these quotes that there have been many colleagues within the Sector that have contributed to SEC over the years and influenced our direction.  We’d like to thank you all – SEC wouldn’t have such a diverse offer today without you. Over the month of #SECtember we’ll continue to celebrate our Members, staff and suppliers. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to ensure you don’t miss out!