Get to know our new Managing Director, Julian Foster!
We recently announced that Kevin Firth, Managing Director of The DPS since 2006, is taking up a new opportunity within our parent company, Computershare. We’re delighted to introduce Kevin’s replacement, Julian Foster. Julian is also part of the Computershare team and is the current Managing Director of our Voucher Services business. To help you get a picture of our new Director, he recently took time out of his busy day to answer some questions about himself.
What are you looking forward to the most about working in the private rented sector?
It’s a growing sector, which is exciting to work in. We all hear the stories where there is a bad landlord or a bad tenant, or somebody has run off with someone’s money. But if you look at the stats, in 99% of cases, everyone does it the correct way and is in the industry for the right reasons.
Our job is to protect the deposit for the tenant so that at the end of the agreement the deposit can be returned to them, or to the landlord if needed. We want to educate both parties so they know what the law requires them to do.
I see our role as providing clear information and support to landlords, tenants and letting agents so they understand exactly what the processes are and how to follow them. Situations where processes are dictated by statute can seem complicated, so we need to make sure our customers are at the heart of what we do, and that we help them every step of the way. That’s our responsibility.
You’ve helped set up an industry body in a sector which was unregulated. Why was that important to you?
My previous role was heading up Computershare’s childcare voucher business. It looks after over 15,000 companies, over 140,000 parents and over 115,000 carers, so we’ve a massive responsibility to make sure it works well.
Providing employees’ childcare vouchers isn’t a regulated activity, but there had been a movement to get an industry body off the ground for some time – the Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA).
We needed a code of practice to represent the interests of the industry, to protect everyone involved and give it a united voice. I wanted to differentiate CVPA members from voucher providers that didn’t adhere to the same ethical or quality standards.
Do you have any top tips for running a successful business?
I wouldn’t ever want to suggest to anyone that there’s a magic formula. There simply isn’t. In any business, your people are your biggest asset. As leaders, we need to make sure we give them the right tools, training and development to do their job and do it well.
It’s also worth remembering that everything we do is for our customers. Without them, businesses are nothing. It’s important to align your efforts to your customers’ values, for if they’re not interested, then you’re wasting your time. I always aim to put the customer at the heart of everything we do.
What will be the biggest challenge in 2015?
There’s an election in May this year, which means that there’s an opportunity for government policy to change. We’ve already seen some changes proposed on sub-letting that could heavily impact the private rental sector. If there is a shift in government policy, or proposals come in to law, we’ll need to be ready to help our customers with advice and guidance.
What do you enjoy doing to relax/wind down outside of work?
I have a three year old little boy who is a typical toddler - very demanding and lots of fun to be with. Fortunately, he enjoys the same things my wife and I like, so we spend a lot of time visiting animal parks and farms.
Tell us something about yourself that may surprise people?
I’m quite handy in the kitchen, I love cooking for my family and friends. I’ve been known to make homemade linguine on Christmas morning. Cooking is the only creative or artistic thing I can do.
2010: Joined Computershare following the acquisition of HBOS Employee Equity Solutions, where he was Commercial director
2011: Became Managing Director of Computershare Voucher Services and has overseen a series of major customer service enhancements
2011: Helped launch the Childcare Voucher Providers Association establishing a code of practice for the industry.
2013: Launched Salary Extras, a new employee benefits platform.