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Meet Katrina Gibson, Business Development Manager at PSP

Katrina has been with Public Sector Plc for a little over a year, having started in April 2018. Before becoming Business Development Manager, she was working in private healthcare, primarily on the development and operation of older-person care facilities in partnership with local authorities.

What does a typical day look like for a Business Development Manager at PSP?

No day or week looks the same! I can be doing anything from meeting new councils or education academy senior teams and talking about the kinds of work that we do to attending board meetings and supporting the development teams with our current partners or presenting at and attending conferences.

What is your favourite part of your role?

I love how diverse my role can be and the variety of people I get to talk to about PSP and what we can do – finding out about their current priorities and constraints, and then looking at ways in which we can work together to deliver not only financial best value but also great outcomes for the local community too.

Councillors, local authority officers and senior managers within the public sector and consultants all have a different story to tell and their own pressures. So, I enjoy teasing that out in conversation and figuring out the ways in which we can best work together in partnership. I even had a quick chat with HRH Princess Royal earlier this year about the state of the housing crisis in England!

What are the main values of the business?

It is definitely about putting the relationship first and a sense of collaboration. We do not work in isolation from our council partners.

How would you say the unique Relational Partnering Model supports councils?

Our business is built upon putting the relationship with our partners first and foremost. It is important for us to understand the challenges each of our partners are facing and how we can support them.

Although similar, all of the councils that we work with are different; their political makeup, socio-economic pressures and economic disparity all mean that there is no ‘one size fits all’ template to how each partnership operates or, ultimately, the projects that we work on. The knowledge and the relationships the regional teams have on and with the local market become so important – Gateshead is a little different to the Isle of Wight after all!

Why do you feel established relationships are essential in the public sector?

As much as what we do is about changing how the public sector ‘does business’ with the private sector, it is ultimately underpinned by the relationships we have with our council partners and our collective ability to bring forward interesting and sometimes challenging property projects.

Both sides of the table need to be able to understand our roles and responsibilities in the partnership and through establishing meaningful relationships, we can fully integrate with our council partners at a strategic level. Business, regardless of the sector, is built upon trust – and if we can have a solid relationship that each partnership is built upon then it allows us to work commercially and strategically.

Why do you feel it is important to utilise private sector expertise and translate this into the public sector?

Austerity and the pressures local authorities are facing are not going to disappear overnight. Councils are being forced to think about ‘commerciality’ and what that means to them, with many looking at their assets to support this.

The skills, knowledge and expertise that PSP can bring to a partnership mean we can work with the public sector to achieve their goal(s) – whether this is supporting housing delivery, making their assets and property work harder and smarter for them or bringing problem sites forward for development.

What are some of the primary objectives and outcomes sought by your public sector partners?

It varies from place to place but, ultimately, it is about making assets work harder and smarter – ensuring our partners fully understand the opportunity each project that comes to the table has and that this aligns with their outcomes.

What steps can councils take to help alleviate housing problems?

I think many councils are exceptionally switched on commercial organisations which, in order to expedite development, are looking at ways in which they can alleviate problems – either through engagement with the private sector or in-house.

We’re seeing more councils interested in the delivery of housing now than two years ago, and I see this number increasing as more pressure is put on them to meet the number of housing units brought forward.

How do you think Brexit will impact the housing crisis?

How long is a piece of string? I think that Brexit is undoubtedly going to impact on overall development. As a country, we rely on skilled and unskilled European workers within the construction industry. Depending on the outcome of the Brexit deal, IF free movement of people was to cease then this would ultimately impact on the speed (and cost) of development, including houses.

Are there any exciting things in store for PSP’s business development sector in 2019?

We’re looking at ways at which we can diversify our offer and work with other public sector organisations. It’s still relatively early days yet, but exciting to be a part of something new!

How is the business continuing to grow?

We’re constantly talking to new and current partners about the kinds of pressures and priorities they have, and work with them and the rest of the PSP team to deliver something that works best for them.

How can people find out more about PSP and the work you do?

Have a look at our website at some of our case studies, and if you’d like to know more about any of our work get in touch! I’m more than happy to visit and have a chat about what we do and how we do it in more detail.