Our governing body, the Board, is made up of volunteers whose interest is in improving access to and choice in affordable housing. The Board has responsibility for the conduct and control of Cairn and they monitor the delivery of services to our customers. It takes decisions about the strategic direction of Cairn.
Meet our Board
Simon Guest – Chair
Simon Guest was elected as Chair in September 2016.
I have been a member of Cairn’s Board since 2011. I was a partner in an Edinburgh firm of solicitors for over 30 years, acting for many diverse, property related clients. I subsequently worked with Edinburgh based Applecross Properties for two years as Business Development and Legal Director.
I am now involved with various commercial and charitable organisations including Dance Base Limited, Scotland’s national dance centre.
I bring legal experience and an understanding of the housing sector in Scotland. I look forward to helping Cairn meet the challenges facing the sector in the years to come.
Michael Allan – Vice Chair
I am now retired but have some 32 years service in the retail sector, which included various positions in audit, training, property, human resources, and, most importantly, customer service. I am also a Cairn tenant and the chair of our tenants’ group. With the commercial knowledge and skills I have acquired, I aim to put our customers at the forefront of everything we do as an organisation.
The Board, together with the staff, are working hard to make A Better Cairn in the years ahead. Together, we will make a difference to the communities that we live in.
I have enjoyed a successful and dynamic career to date working with a broad remit and a variety of challenging roles. I am delighted to have been able to join the team at Cairn as a Board member. Good quality affordable housing and excellent services are fundamentally important to ensure thriving and sustainable communities. I very much look forward to working with my Board colleagues and the staff team to put its core values into practice and maintain its role as a leading, dynamic and successful housing association in Scotland.
I am a Project Manager in a construction consultancy organisation working with clients on projects in a diverse range of industry sectors throughout the UK.
Alongside my experience managing construction projects in residential, healthcare, leisure and commercial sectors, I am also a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and have also completed an MSc in Construction Management at Heriot-Watt University.
I have good knowledge, understanding and hands on experience of residential development, including an understanding of design guides, public procurement guidance, construction contracts. Having been introduced to the affordable housing sector through previous employment with a residential developer, I have an interest in Scottish Government housing policy and the Regulatory environment in which housing associations operate, and the increasingly important role which Housing Associations will fulfil.
Working alongside public sector organisations in developing their projects and have therefore developed a good understanding of the governance, gateway process, reporting requirements and the importance of proactive engagement with a broad range of stakeholders including customers, staff, lenders, local authorities, Scottish Government and suppliers.
Applying my skills and experience working with both public and private sector organisations in the property and construction industry will enable me to make a positive and valuable contribution to Cairn Housing Association and I look forward to working with my colleagues at Cairn to continue to deliver great homes and great services.
I have worked in the UK Real Estate industry for over 25 years. After gaining experience in London private practice I joined Standard Life Investments (now Aberdeen Standard Investments) in January 2000 managing a significant real estate portfolio. In 2006 I was appointed Fund Manager of their UK Property Fund which I managed for 10 years. From 2016 I have been focused on increasing our investment into the residential sector, principally through developing new rental accommodation across the UK.
The UK housing sector currently faces significant structural challenges with many people struggling to find good quality, well managed and affordable accommodation that suits their needs. I am delighted to have joined the Board to help continue to address these challenges, and the impact they have on people and their communities. I commit my commercial investment experience to helping Cairn to continue to provide quality affordable homes and services, with the help of our communities, partners and staff, throughout Scotland.
During my career, I have had the good fortune to have undertaken many roles both within the private and public financial sectors. These roles have been varied and have included Audit, Human Resources, Project management, Commercial Banking, Private Banking and a period with The Pensions Regulator.
Geographically, I have worked in Scotland, south England and London.
My philosophy revolves around the following, People, Planning, Process, Performance and Professionalism.
I have worked with some exceptional people and have gained valuable experience in customer service, operational systems and team building.
In joining the Board of Cairn, I am looking forward to offering my skills and experience to an ambitious organisation with ambitious objectives, whilst at the same time building my knowledge in a new environment.
Since a part time job at an Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors office and more recently becoming a homeowner, a tenant and a landlord, I’ve always been interested in property and housing.
I have a Business Studies degree where I specialised in management accounting. My career has spanned a number of project management, governance and operational roles within the defence industry, public sector and financial services. Several of these roles have involved delivering business transformation programmes and like Cairn, all of the organisations have customer service and people at the heart of their values.
I am delighted to be joining the Cairn Board at what I think will be a really interesting and exciting time for the organisation and hope that my skills and experience will complement those of the Senior Management Team and my Board colleagues.
Having lived and worked in the Highlands for 25 years, I am acutely aware of the importance of ensuring access to good quality affordable housing, not least in rural communities. I believe the voluntary housing association movement is central to sustaining and strengthening communities and look forward to Cairn further developing its capacity and commitment to making a difference through building, maintaining and managing good quality affordable housing.
The challenging economic climate requires housing associations to respond confidently and creatively in order to address the legitimate expectations of their tenants, their skilled staff, and those who aspire to an affordable home.
After a short spell in the private sector I spent 18 years in Local Authority working in a range of areas with economic development being my focus latterly. I progressed to European Funding for five years, managing large scale infrastructure projects and financial engineering before changing direction again to the voluntary sector. I have worked for a number of third sector organisations in Business Development roles before taking up my current post. As Chief Executive of the Coach House Trust I am responsible for the strategic direction of a charity that works to support a client group with mental health issues, learning disabilities, addictions, homelessness and offending backgrounds. The Coach House engages with these individuals through art, crafts and horticultural activities with a view to improving their employability. To complement this work we are developing a number of social enterprises. A large part of our external activities recently has been with local housing associations and that has provided me with a broader view than simply the ‘bricks and mortar’ responsibilities that housing associations have. My main interest lies with the part that Cairn plays in the lives and the communities in which it operates.
After a long career in housing of almost 35 years in Glasgow and the Western Isles I retired in July 2016. My housing experience includes 12 years as Director of Housing at Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) responsible for housing strategy both for the public and private sectors, housing management, investment, new build, homelessness and Housing Benefit administration.
From 2005 until 2016 I was Chief Executive of the Hebridean Housing Partnership, a whole stock transfer from the local authority providing good quality housing for affordable rent and shared equity home ownership.
It has been my privilege to have worked in what is a vitally important service; the provision of good quality affordable housing for people in housing need. I am therefore delighted to have joined the Board of Cairn and commit myself to use my housing experience to contribute to the important work of my Board member colleagues and Association staff in delivering Cairn’s vision of great homes, great service and great people.
Although now retired, I have spent the last 38 years working in social housing. While working in Regulation dominated this period, experience was also obtained in management accounting, internal audit and as Housing Services Director. I also served on Outlook’s Committee prior to its transfer to Cairn. This background makes me feel well equipped to serve on Cairn’s Committee and I welcome the opportunity to give something back.
Over the years Cairn has developed into a national housing provider. Core values such as the provision of a good, caring and efficient service to tenants and residents continue to be a top priority. Ability to achieve this in future will be much more difficult due to a range of financial constraints within which the sector is expected to operate. However, I am confident that effective teamwork between the Board and staff will ensure that Cairn has a successful future.
I am a retired primary school teacher. However, I spent many years abroad working with the BBC and Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) in the Caribbean, returning to Europe to work at the UN in Vienna. On my return to the UK I spent several years in the north of England and became a tenant volunteer on the Board of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH). On the Board I became extremely interested in social housing, assisting both RBH and the contractor when we underwent major improvement works to 15,000 homes. During my 10 years in Rochdale I became Chair of RBH. Having been on the Board of RBH as well as being a tenant gave me the insight to see things from both the managements and the tenants perspective.
After a 35-year career in public transport where I worked in national and international companies at senior management and board level I am looking forward to bringing some of those skills and my experience to the team at Cairn Housing Association. Whilst having trained in operations management and marketing, the general management positions I held broadened my knowledge and experience to include finance, contract management, asset management and human resources.
I have always focused on service delivery and adding value to the customer’s experience. Through clear leadership and through the development of good systems, good staff training and the correct values, an organisation will have an edge in giving customer satisfaction. I am looking forward to helping Cairn achieve its vision of creating Great Homes, Great Services and Great People.
Meet our Senior Management Team
Jason MacGilp FCIH –
Jason has been Cairn’s Chief Executive since December 2011. His role is to support the Board in the strategic direction of the Association and ensure high quality services to our customers. Jason is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing and was elected to the Scotland Board 2013-15. He has served on the Board of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations since 2015. Since 1988 he has worked in the housing sector throughout his career. He has a range of experience in senior leadership roles in local authorities and housing associations, including as Executive Director of Regeneration & Development at WM Housing Group and as Corporate Director of Housing & Property Services at Tamworth Borough Council. Jason is committed to Cairn’s core purpose of providing high quality homes and services to our customers and working with partners and communities across Scotland.
Derek Adam –
Director of Finance & Business Services
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Derek’s previous commercial accounting background embraces roles within Engineering, Telecommunications and more recently Property Development and Banking. Derek has recently completed an MBA at Edinburgh University which adds a managerial awareness to his existing commercial experience. Derek’s appointment in 2010 to the Executive Team at Cairn Housing Association, affords the Association the opportunity to utilise his considerable skills and experience during a period when financial probity will be at a premium.
Derek appreciates the Association’s financial strength and plans to ensure the organisation remains as one of the leading associations providing affordable social housing in Scotland.
John Davidson –
Director of Customer Services
John has worked in social housing since 1998, having completed a post-graduate diploma in Housing Policy & Management. He is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and joined Cairn in January 2013 from a large social landlord in North East England where he was Head of Neighbourhood Services. Prior to this John worked for a housing association in Scotland where he gained a good understanding of the sector in Scotland. John is committed to ensuring that Cairns customers receive excellent customer service and is keen to ensure that we involve customers in achieving this aim.
Walter Clarkson –
Head of Customer Services (Property Services)
Walter started work in housing in 1980, working with the Housing Corporation in Scotland and then Scottish Homes, providing development funding to housing associations. In 1989 Walter moved to Dundee, joining Gowrie Housing Association, before returning to Edinburgh as a Development Officer with Cairn in 1991, to start Cairn’s new build programme. Over the last two decades Walter has been involved in the growth of Cairn, via stock transfers from other housing associations and the development of around 1,000 new houses. Walter is a member of the Chartered Management and is Head of Customer Services (Property Services) where he coordinates all aspects of investment in Cairn’s stock, with an emphasis on planned maintenance and responsive repairs.
Donna Holligan –
Head of Finance
Donna was appointed to the role of Head of Finance in August 2017. Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant, Donna has over 7 years’ experience in the Scottish housing sector and has previous experience within the Manufacturing Industry, Public Sector and Charities.
In an environment where financial governance and reporting is a key focus, Donna understands the challenges faced by all social landlords, and offers the opportunity to build upon the existing financial plans which support the organisation in maintaining financial strength and sustainability.
Paul Robertson –
Head of Customer Services (Tenancy Services)
Paul joined Cairn in 2002 and has worked in numerous roles and management positions within our tenancy service team prior to being appointed Head of Customer Service (Tenancy Services) in 2017. He has several years’ governance experience having served on RSL Boards and is a Fellow of the Charted Institute of Housing. Paul is dedicated in the pursuit of customer service excellence and is committed to improving frontline customer services for our tenants.
Julie Scott –
Head of Human Resources & Organisational Development
Julie has worked in various roles within Cairn since 1992 and was appointed to the role of Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development in April 2017.
With over 14 years experience working in HR, Julie is passionate about working with people and developing organisational strength though workforce development.
Fin Smith –
Head of Business Improvement
Fin was appointed to the role of Head of Business Improvement in January 2013 and has over 10 years’ experience working in the Scottish housing sector, with previous experience in finance, telecommunications and local authority.
Fin is passionate about the pursuit of excellence, with a particular focus on embedding principles, frameworks and processes that promote continuous and sustainable improvement.