Omar innovates in social housing

Our Research and Innovation Lead, Omar Idris recently spoke to This is Housing about his transition of working for Gilette to innovating the social housing sector. Here’s what he had to say:

For eight years, I worked within the fast-moving consumer goods sector for Procter & Gamble specifically on new, front end innovation for the Gillette brand. I focused on things that not only changes the consumer’s experience but also the way we worked and innovated as an organisation. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of that time focussing on disruptive innovation programmes that look to complete change the way we think about consumer experience, business models and work in general.

During that time, my passion for socially conscious work really started to come into its own and the want and need to use my expertise for social good became more and more prominent, whether that was striving to shift towards more sustainable products and services, bolstering corporate social responsibility programmes or to helping the homeless through brand initiatives.

As much as I loved the work we were doing, it just wasn’t enough for me and I wanted to devote my whole focus on helping people through innovation. That led me into the social housing and social care sectors, taking on a career that uses innovation for public good. Doing this back in Wales is also fantastic, my wife and I had spent 11 years in London so moving back to the coast makes me feel so lucky.

The people I work with at Hafod are incredibly dedicated and want to make things happen for their customers. The sector is also relatively fragmented, so doing as much as we can to co-produce and innovate against common goals is incredibly important.

I love coming in to work and seeing a world of untapped opportunities, ideating against them and seeing the ideas grow within the organisation. I truly believe that innovation for public good is one of the most important things in the world at the moment. There is a purpose to what we do and if we can fulfil that purpose and help change people’s lives that is enough motivation for me.

Bobby Kennedy said “it is from numberless acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped”. I really think we have the opportunity to shape that history through our actions.