Spotlight on Orbit’s offer to fund professional qualifications: Greg Birch shares his experience

Head of Property Management, Greg Birch, recently undertook such a qualification using Orbit’s offer, and is sharing his experience with us…

During the creation and mobilisation of the new Property Management team in the spring of 2018, I was given the task of drawing up a training and coaching matrix for the new team. Over the next twelve months, the team were provided with a mixture of training by internal and external trainers on a wide range of property management topics.

With the basic training completed, we wanted to ‘professionalise’ the team and identified the Institute of Residential Property Managers (IRPM) as the most appropriate organisation to join. The IRPM agreed to adapt their Associate level course to reflect the social housing market and 20 Orbit Property Managers signed up to take the course, including me. Whilst I have acquired several qualifications over the years - Cycling Proficiency Badge and Bronze Medallion Swimming Award to name but two – my background is in Building Surveying and not Property Management, so I thought that I would challenge myself to take the course. Plus, I couldn’t expect my team to put themselves through the course if I wasn’t.

As 20 of us were taking the course, the process of applying to Orbit was relatively easy. We all applied together and were signed off as a ‘job lot’. The IRPM sent us through the access details for the online course materials and 9 months later, I passed the Associate exam.

I can now take the Member exam and earn the letters MIRPM after my name. It has given me a qualification in the field that I now work and demonstrates that I am a Property Management professional, rather than a Building Surveyor masquerading as a Property Manager. The qualification is now on my CV should I need to use it in the future.

We now have 20 newly qualified Property Managers in the team and nearly everyone else in the team wants to take the qualification. The biggest problem now is making sure that the budget can cope with the number of employees applying to take the course!

Setting two or three hours every couple of weeks to study each module (there were 10 in total, plus a case study) and then take the online assessment wasn’t too difficult. The course content was interesting and definitely job related. Becoming an Associate Member of the IRPM has enabled me to assess other training materials and best practice guides. I have also been able to attend the institute’s annual conference and make use of the networking opportunities.

As 20 of us were in the first cohort, there was a real competitive edge to who could achieve the top marks in each module assessment. I’m sure that some people were putting in additional study time to come top. They deserved the accolades. I’m just glad that I didn’t come last!