Meet Hastoe Board member, Omadevi Jani

2 September 2021

Oma is currently the Not-for-Profit (NfP) Senior Technical Manager and NFP technical lead at Grant Thornton. She has in-depth specialist experience of accounting, finance and auditing. After gaining a first-class honours degree in business management at Brunel University, Oma joined Grant Thornton on a graduate audit trainee programme, working as an auditor across a number of sectors including charities, housing associations and educational institutions. She completed her accountancy training and became a Chartered Accountant in 2012 and in 2015 transferred into a more technically focused role. “It was a steep learning curve from being an auditor to dealing with technical accounting, risk and compliance” she says.

I always had an interest in regulation and the Not-for-Profit sectors. Gradually, I started to consolidate my knowledge and became a specialist in social housing”.

Oma originally thought she would study languages or linguistics when she was younger. “I never imagined myself to be a finance person or an accountant!” Coming from a hardworking background, Oma was the first in her family to attend university. “That was a journey in itself. I grew up quickly as my dad passed away when I was just 17. Being the eldest child, I took on early responsibilities at home including supporting my mum and my youngest sibling with cerebral palsy. Before university I took time out to work with a learning disabilities charity. I helped with the annual audit and that piqued my interest. I decided to switch my focus to studying finance.”

Becoming a member of the Hastoe board gives Oma an opportunity to put her considerable skills to good use and add a great deal of value to Hastoe’s future growth and development, during a time when the sector is navigating through significant challenges. 

I want to expand my skillset and apply my knowledge to an organisation that doesn’t readily have these resources,” she explains. “When you get to a certain point in your career, you feel a sense of responsibility to others and are able to help. I know I can do that right now. I want to give this sector a voice. I don’t like the term ‘third sector’; it should be the first sector because it’s about people lives and communities.”

As well as her expertise in finance and accounting, Oma brings to the board an understanding of tenant engagement and of the key issues in the sector. “My role is much wider than just finance and accounting. It’s about robustly challenging Hastoe’s work and being that critical friend to add value. I can help us to continue to be trailblazers in the housing sector.”

Although she doesn’t live in the countryside, Oma has fond associations with village life in Somerset and Oxford. However, she appreciates that rural living for tenants has its challenges. “I’ve learnt that rural communities impacted by the pandemic had probably already experienced a disconnect. This is in terms of resources, jobs and affordable housing, along with the added pressure of people encroaching on rural areas.”

Oma believes that resident focus and tenant accountability should be the core focus for the board, not to mention the significant changes in regulations and compliance that will impact priorities. “Hastoe is going beyond compliance. You only have to look at the Hastoe New-Build Standard to see it’s ahead of the game in supporting communities with high quality, sustainable, energy efficient homes.”

Excited about the future ahead, Oma can’t wait to meet residents and hear their views on their homes. “I’ve got an invite to a development opening soon - it’s a really important event to attend. I’ll dig out my pink wellingtons!”

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