The whg Board comprises:
Danielle Oum (Chair)
Danielle was appointed Chair in February 2019 after joining the Board in October 2018. She has a professional background in the learning and skills and regeneration sectors and has held senior roles in organisations such as Black Country Consortium, Groundwork UK and the Learning and Skills Council.
In parallel to her professional career, Danielle has also held a number of non-executive roles, including within the housing sector at Optima-Family, WM Group and Wrekin Housing Trust.
Alongside her continued interest in housing, Danielle has held non-executive roles in the NHS. She is Chair of Healthwatch Birmingham, the regional agency for Healthwatch England that advocates on behalf of NHS and social care service users. She is also Chair of Audit for Healthwatch England. She has previously held non-executive/Chair roles at Dudley Primary Care Trust and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust. In 2016, she was asked to become the Chair at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, to help turn around this poorly performing Trust.
Danielle holds an MA in Equal Opportunities from Birmingham City University and a BA in Humanities from University of Greenwich.
Mike Hew (Vice Chair)
Mike joined the Board in September 2014, having retired as the Chief Executive of a registered provider based in the West Midlands. He has many years of housing experience at a senior level in both housing associations and local authorities in the region and brings expertise in strategic and asset management, change management and organisational development, social housing policy and governance.
He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a Board Member of the YMCA. Mike was appointed Deputy Chair in 2017 and before taking on the role of Chair on an interim basis earlier this year, he was a member of whg’s Audit and Assurance Committee. Alongside his position as Vice Chair, Mike is Chair of whg's Governance and Remuneration Committee and the Board Champion for Value for Money.
Gary Fulford (Group Chief Executive)
Gary was appointed to the Board in August 2016 and has been the Group Chief Executive of the whg group of companies since November 2009. Gary has over 30 years of housing experience and has held Director positions for 20 years. He is a member of Walsall Council's Borough Management Team (the Walsall Proud Partnership) and is also the Vice Chair of the Regional Committee of the National Housing Federation. His skills include housing management, asset management, development and finance. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, by examination. Gary is Chair of the whg Developments Limited and whg Treasury PLC Boards and is also a member of the VIEW, whg Trading Company Limited, Anthem Homes Limited and Buy For Good CIC Boards.
Ian was appointed to the Board in February 2016. He has been employed within the housing sector for over 18 years and has progressed via technical engineering positions and senior management posts to become a strategic leader in social housing. He brings expertise in strategic management and asset management. A chartered member of the CIOB and CIH, Ian is currently the Head of Housing Maintenance at Dudley Council. Ian is the Chair of whg’s Audit and Assurance Committee.
Noel has been a Board Member since May 2014. Now retired, he previously spent 10 years working as a miner in the Cannock area before moving to work for a Cannock firm which supplied machinery to the construction and quarrying industries.
He is a member of the management committee of a local sporting organisation and brings experience of the needs of local communities, performance management, service user involvement and customer services. Noel is a whg customer and brings a clear focus on customer service and experience. He is also Chair of whg’s Customer Experience Committee and the Board Champion for Health and Safety.
Paul has been a Board Member since December 2018. Paul is a Chartered Surveyor with 35 years’ experience in the construction, development and maintenance sectors. Having spent most of his career in the social and affordable housing sector, Paul now manages his own consultancy business and also undertakes projects for other consultancies. He brings skills in risk management and housing development, with a particular focus on representing customers’ needs and interests. Paul has been, and continues to be, involved in a number of non-executive roles, both within and outside the housing sector. His current appointments include membership of the RICS Housing Supply Working Group, through which he contributes to housing policy development and engages with Government and other agencies.
Greg was appointed to the Board in April 2017. He has worked in the home ownership sector since 1997 and is currently the Senior Partner for a consultancy that he created in January 2016 to provide home ownership sales and marketing expertise to small and new developers. Before creating the consultancy, he was the Sales and Marketing Director for a major developing housing association delivering Shared Ownership homes and also its commercial subsidiary which sold homes on the open market to cross subsidise social housing. Greg is also the Chair of the Boards of our commercial companies; whg Trading Company Limited, Anthem Homes Limited and Buy for Good CIC.
Gary was appointed to the Board in July 2019 and is also a Member of the Audit and Assurance Committee. Gary is a chartered accountant who has worked in the sector for over 25 years specialising in advising the not for profit sector and meeting regularly with Homes England in his role as National Head of Social Housing for RSM.
Gary managed a Corporate Finance Team, involved in mergers, acquisitions and disposals and funding. He has also worked with housing associations preparing for In Depth Assessments carried out by the Regulator of Social Housing.
Gary is now a financial consultant to a Midlands property development company and is a Member of the Audit Committee at Orbit and the Social Housing Technical Advisory Board at Winmark Group.
Akshay was appointed to the Board and as Chair of the Development Committee in November 2019.
He has operated at senior management levels in a number of high profile organisations including as Chief Operating Officer of the Walsall Regeneration Company where he was part of the team responsible for driving forward an ambitious and transformational regeneration programme that culminated in the delivery of over £400m of public and private sector investment within Walsall town centre.
Projects included the establishment of the new Walsall College Wisemore Campus, a new Tesco superstore, the redevelopment of the Manor Hospital and the accelerated development of award-winning mixed-use schemes at Walsall Waterfront and Walsall Office Corridor.
In addition to his considerable experience in economic development and physical regeneration Akshay has extensive knowledge and networks around the four Black Country authorities and the wider Birmingham region.
Akshay is Chair of an independent community pharmacy group. In the recent past he was Group Chair of a leading regional housing association. He has also served as a Non-Executive Director at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and as a governor at an Ofsted outstanding college of Further Education. He holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Banking and Finance from the City University, London.
Daren was appointed to the Board in November 2019. He has 15 years of direct experience managing NHS operations building on his background in fulfilling front-line operational roles. He is a practicing paramedic who has also undertaken various Operational Director roles in the Ambulance Service.
Daren is involved in working with whg through the Integrated Care Partnership and is also the Interim Executive Director of Walsall Together at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. Previously he was Executive Director of Strategy and Improvement at the same organisation for five years.
Daren is a Clinical Advisor, Auditor and Coach with NHS 111.
His areas of expertise are business analysis, improvement strategies, risk management, financial management and governance.
Daren is also the Board Champion for Data Protection and Information Security and a Member of the Customer Experience Committee.
Guy was appointed to the Board in November 2019 and is also on the Board of VIEW and a member of the Development Committee.
Guy has worked in the housing sector throughout his career which has included senior management positions in local authorities and housing associations. He was a housing association Chief Executive for 25 years until he stepped down in April 2019. Guy has also held various non-executive positions and is currently a non-executive director with a small specialist RP based in Birmingham.
Guy is passionate about the role that housing associations have in creating great places to live and his expertise includes housing policy and strategy, organisational change management, housing development and mergers.
Guy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, holds a DMS and has completed the Cranfield University Business Leaders Programme.
Lizzie was appointed to the Board in January 2019. She has worked in a variety of sectors including automotive, care and social enterprise. She is currently the HR Director for Jaguar Land Rover’s global Corporate and Commercial functions leading a complex multi-geographical team supporting JLR’s operations in 42 countries.
Combining her current role with a commitment to social purpose, Lizzie has been a member of the Governance and Remuneration Committee since 2018. She is also the Board Champion for Equality and Diversity.