Arthur Merchant (Chair) is a former partner and Head of Housing for Grant Thornton UK PLC. He specialised in the provision of audit and advisory services to the housing sector for over 20 years and also worked in the local authority, NHS and education sectors. He is a member of the CIPFA Housing Association Panel and sits on the Boards of two other registered providers. Until the end of 2014, he served as a Board member of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce for more than seven years.
Simone Buckley joined the Group Board in July 2015. She was previously Chair of the Group’s South Region Resident Services Panel and a Customer Services Committee Member. Simone has over fifteen years’ experience working within blue chip organisations both in the UK and Australia, specialising in change management, communications and business integration.
Jo has over 30 years’ experience in the private sector having worked with a number of blue chip companies in differing sectors in corporate finance and treasury roles. This has included asset finance roles within Hilton International and as treasurer of rolling stock lessor Angel Trains. For the last three and half years she has been Group Treasurer of Marks and Spencer plc with responsibilities for the global treasury, pensions investments , captive insurance, M&S Bank and partnering business services. She is a fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers and a qualified accountant. She is also Chair of the Finsatra DB pension scheme.
Maureen Corcoran is Chair of the Customer Services Committee. She has over 30 years experience in housing and community development, including working as Head of Housing for London in the Audit Commission’s inspection service. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Chair of another housing association. She works as a Blue Badge qualified tourist guide.
Alan Townshend was appointed Chief Executive of Southern Housing Group in September 2018. Prior to this Alan was the Group’s Development Director with responsibility for the development of new homes, sales & marketing and private rent. Alan has over 30 years of experience in the affordable housing sector, working with both public and private companies. Alan is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
A qualified member of RICS since 1974, Robert Clark retired as CEO of Durkan Ltd in 2016, having been with the company 36 years. As Managing Director and CEO, he was responsible for the management of all construction projects, strategic IT and HR management, overseeing major IT infrastructure installations and achieving Investors In People accreditation.
His board & committee experience includes Housing Associations, construction training, the Housing Forum, the Hertfordshire Housing Conference and lobbying or providing evidence to Parliamentary Committees and MPs.
Carol Rosati OBE has over 25 years of experience of talent management in executive search recruiting CFOs, CEOs and NEDs for major organisations. In 2008 she founded Inspire, which now connects over 6000 board level businesswomen globally across four continents. She works with many organisations to create diversity of thought and better balanced teams, using her accumulated knowledge to create a diverse workforce and sustainable pipeline. Carol is also involved with Inspiring the future, visiting schools to inspire the next generation. As a trained executive coach, she supports and helps individuals to achieve their full potential, through one to one coaching sessions and also runs client based workshops and roundtables. She was awarded an OBE inthe Queen's 2015 Birthday New Honours List for Services to Women in Business and is a Brummell City Champion of Diversity.
As Group Finance Director, James has Executive responsibility for Finance, IT and pensions.
For over eleven years in G15 housing organisations James has led through values, maintaining a clear focus on managing capacity, resources and change to create greater value for customers.
Operating in Board-level Finance Director roles since 2010, James has achieved simultaneous improvements in financial and social return by leading culture change, improvement programmes and has consistently made back office functions an efficient and integral part of the business.
Having led the Board to define its post-EU referendum risk appetite and investment aspiration, James is modernising the Group’s funding structure and leading the Group’s data and digital transformation to increase scalability and resilience.
Prior to working in the housing sector, James gained 8 years of experience in accountancy and corporate finance practice, where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
James has Chaired both the school governing body and gymnastics club attended by his two daughters.
Mary Watkins is Senior Independent Director. She has extensive board experience in the housing and health and social care sectors, including another housing provider and Chaired the Quality and Governance Committee at South Western Ambulance Service Foundation NHS trust where latterly she was Deputy Chair and SID. Her experience has involved significant changes to the businesses in which she has been a board member including the amalgamation of two NHS providers and two housing associations.
She is a qualified nurse has held a University Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor position and published extensively in the fields of health and social care. She is a Visiting Professor at King's College London.
She was appointed as a Cross Bench Life Peer 2015 and speaks regularly on housing issues.