Our new CEO, Paul Tennant OBE, joins us in January 2022.
After the untimely passing of David McCullough in February 2021 and an interim period overseen by Bob Tindall, Paul joins us at a critical point in Abbeyfield’s lifetime, when we are looking to continue our mission and strengthen our relationships with local communities.
Following a career in housing and five years as Chief Executive at The Law Society, we caught up with Paul to get his thoughts on what his time at the wheel will bring, and what inspired him to take on a new challenge.
Welcome to Abbeyfield, Paul! What was it that attracted you to join us?
"Abbeyfield’s ethos of friendliness, warmth and community was a key factor for me in joining. It’s an inspiring organisation to be a part of, with a great history. It was clear from the first time I considered the role and spoke to the Board what Abbeyfield is here to do, and the clear potential value that it has for its residents, society and the lives of older people. I am relishing taking on the challenges facing us and the care and housing sectors in general."
What are you most looking forward to in your first few weeks?
"I’m a people person, so I want to meet as many people involved in our organisation as possible – residents, their family members, staff, volunteers, trustees and friends and partners in the community included. This will be crucial for me to get to grips with the most important issues that need our attention and to share ideas and visions for our future."
After a long career in the sector, how do you think your skills and experience will benefit Abbeyfield?
"I hope that I will be able to bring my experience in running housing organisations and working with residents in a wide range of settings and services. I have delivered successful change programmes in the past and I believe I can help Abbeyfield to realise its potential, and to improve our ability to meet the needs of both current and future residents, for years to come."
What do you think are our greatest strengths, and what do we need to work on?
"As I mentioned, the great ethos of Abbeyfield was one of my main reasons for joining. We are famed for the brilliant support we provide for our residents, our deep commitment to help older people and improve their quality of life, and the way in which we collaborate across the Family. This is something I’ll look to build on and take to greater heights.
"What we need for the future is a clear direction to follow, a message to deliver and a plan of action to implement across the organisation. Developing this is fundamentally important to cementing our place in Society, setting out clearly what we can deliver for our residents, and creating a sustainable organisation that can have a make a real long-term improvement to the lives of older people.
"I also hope to see us simplify the way in which we operate by removing unnecessary administration, improving our systems, processes and technology, and investing in our staff team and supporting them in their roles. We can work on being great across our organisation to create a strong collective, and develop our offer for all our residents."
What do you enjoy doing during your downtime?
"I enjoy reading and a trip to the theatre every now and then. I am from the North-East originally and a long-suffering fan of Sunderland football club."
Sunderland are flying high at the moment. How do you rate your chances of promotion this season?
"At best 50/50, but supporting the Black Cats ensures that you take an optimistic approach and always believe you can do better and be successful if you just keep working at it. Fingers crossed for May!"
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