60 seconds with Kevin Fairless, Head of Training at IRPM

We had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Fairless, Head of Training at IRPM. 

You have recently joined the IRPM in the newly created post as Head of Training, but we’ve seen your face in the industry before this, what were you doing before this?

Before joining the IRPM I was lucky enough to work with some great people at FirstPort, who had a common goal of providing the best service to our customers. Whilst there I delivered many industry-leading training programmes to support the Four Pillar strategy (Health & Safety, Customer Service, Finance and Property Standards) including an award winning accredited customer service programme, a hugely successful graduate training programme and of course my uniquely amazing conference workshops.

And now on to your new role, when did you join IRPM and what will this new role entail?

I joined the IRPM earlier this year, and immediately took on 3 huge projects that are bringing significant change to our sector. Firstly, I am responsible for the only professional qualification in the Private Rental Sector (PRS) sometimes referred to as Build to Rent (BTR). I am part of the Working Group where industry leaders ensure that the syllabus and training material are what our industry and the Government’s PRS Task Force needs.

Secondly, I am responsible for the Apprenticeship scheme for the Housing and Property Management sector, which is now well underway delivering a cost-effective solution for new and upskilling property managers; open to all employers who are interested in professional development and achieving membership of the Institute of Residential Property Management.

And finally, I am a strong advocate of getting property management on the career map through professional development. I can see that when operational staff complete their IRPM qualifications this helps raise standards across the sector. IRPM provides an independent professional accreditation, which is an important validation of their skills, knowledge and gives a right to work.

With IRPM widening their qualification offering to match the change in the market, how do you see these qualifications changing and developing over the coming years?

At a time with regulation and qualifications of residential property managers high on the Governments agenda the IRPM are at the forefront of driving the change. Looking at the Governments direction of travel, professional qualifications will be required by leading agents to practice and the IRPM are ideally placed to provide respected and trusted professional qualifications. Our Working Groups are led by game changers in the sector and they future proof the IRPM qualifications, ensuring they will meet the needs of employers and customers for decades to come.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

I’ve had a broad career starting off as an engineer then performance management and now people development and one quote has stuck with me from a lady called Maya Angelou who was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I think this is quite an inspirational quote and a hugely important lesson.

What is your proudest achievement?

There are many moments in my relatively short life that I would say that I'm proud of, making people smile, laugh or that change their lives somehow, but I still think that my proudest moment is yet to come.

What drives you crazy about the property management sector?

We have seen the impact that the Grenfell Tower tragedy has had on the wider community and the push towards regulation and qualifications to raise standards. Indeed, the IRPM have seen a rush by leading agents to gain professional IRPM qualifications for their Property Managers ahead of incoming changes in legislation. My frustration is that potentially great property managers without an industry specific qualification could, through no fault of their own find that their right to work, retain customers and win new business has been detrimentally affected and their personal reputation impacted.

A professional property manager’s reputation is crucial, with increasing numbers of people renting in the UK right now, the services offered by property management companies will continue to be in high demand – however, landlords want to make their own lives easier, knowing that everything is compliant and legal will certainly devolve all of these responsibilities to a property manager who is professionally qualified.

What do you do away from the office?

I am a keen amateur abstract artist and often can be found wondering around many of our capitals wonderful art galleries enjoying new art and artists. I also enjoy spending time with my family who live in different faraway lands from Sweden to Spain, making for inexpensive holidays. I also love to make time for good friends and my beloved Tottenham Hotspurs often mixing the two, but unfortunately not always successfully.