Five Minutes With… Andrea Thornhill
We have a chat with Business Change Manager, Andrea Thornhill, to learn about how urbanbubble manage growth and change in the organisation.
Tell us about your role at urbanbubble
As the Business Change Manager, I lead a small team of analysts. We map out all the processes and procedures for the business, documenting the best way to complete different activities. This ensures we always adopt the most efficient approach; all staff are trained on processes to achieve consistently.
My role also extends to IT and infrastructure management. We implement the key operational systems and manage configuration of the systems for the business. Managing third party suppliers ensures everyone has access to the right tools to complete their job effectively.
When did you join urbanbubble?
I started in March 2013 as an executive assistant to Michael. However, within a few months we needed to move offices; I took over this responsibility and started working on various projects to support the company’s high growth.
How has your role evolved since then?
My first few years in the business involved mapping processes for block management and implementing a new property management system, as well as stabilising the IT infrastructure, so that we were prepared for the growth that Michael anticipated.
Along the way I have managed everything from social media interns, the office management, general business matters and legal information packs – part and parcel of working for a small company where, in the early stages, it may be impossible to employ lots of different people into such roles.
This breadth of experience led me to my current role: now, any business change comes through me. For example, we’re currently mapping out processes and procedures for our Build To Rent projects, and conducting a thorough assessment of our business in preparation for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
As urbanbubble recently welcomed some new investors to the table, effective change management is only becoming more central to our business strategy.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
The transformation of block management processes, arguably, has had the biggest impact on the business to date. Before this, the team were using accounting software to oversee all customer accounts and could not sustain the business growth without a change.
Today, we have a complete property management system that enables us to handle jobs, issue service charges, and stay on top of block management effectively. We can also manage the full client finances of the Management Companies effectively and control expenditure in detail within all of our managed properties. Furthermore, an online portal gives our customers choice on how they interact with us.
How are urbanbubble different?
The fact that a company of our size has a Business Change team in the first place makes us special. Michael has always had one eye on growth, which is why he prioritised this at such an early stage in urbanbubble’s development.
As a company, we have always planned, organised and scripted everything out to ensure that we’ve been able to deliver a consistent service through growth periods. That commitment to change and improvement in what is still a reasonably small business is really quite unique.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
For me, it’s the fact that no two days are ever the same. Over the years, I’ve constantly found myself doing something different – I love the challenge that comes with gathering information, then streamlining this to deliver improvements. It feels like you’re really making something.
I also enjoy the interactive elements of my role. We have run many workshops with different colleagues to get a true understanding of what they do and how they think things could be improved. These sessions give them the time to stop and think – you often see a lightbulb moment that leads to huge improvements coming directly from the business.
When you’re not at work, how do you unwind?
I have two young children who I love spending time with when I’m not at work. Bringing up kids is a full-time job in itself, so finding a work-life balance can be difficult at times, but getting outdoors with the children and our dog is a great way to ‘unwind’!
As Michael and his wife, Claire, are friends, we also go away as a group at least once a year. We always look forward to planning our next big trip!