27th July 2023
Housing Today puts spotlight on Managing Director, Richard Mussell

Richard Mussell, Managing Director at Rund discusses the strengths, opportunities and challenges of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) in a dedicated Q&A feature with Housing Today.

  • Why did you choose housing as a career?

It's been ingrained in me since my earliest memories. A legacy of construction and development has been passed down through generations in my family. My grandfather was an entrepreneur and built his own construction business in the aftermath of the Second World War. My father, following in his footsteps, embarked on his own journey in the industry, eventually establishing a successful construction development company. For me, it was only natural to follow suit, attracted by the idea of creating something tangible that would stand the test of time. And so, my decision was made, fuelled by the sheer thrill of shaping our built environment and leaving my mark for all to see. With a deep sense of purpose, I set out on this path, driven by the idea of creating spaces that will bring joy to future generations. It's a wild ride, but there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing that what I build today will stand tall long after I'm gone.

  • What are you most proud of in your career to date?

From a humble village in Herefordshire to steering the ship at Rund and propelling the business to new heights—it's been quite the journey, let me tell you. We've come a long way since those early days. Now, with a team of over 80 talented individuals and four bustling offices in major hubs in the UK, we're making waves in the industry. And let me assure you, we're not just meeting our goals; we're surpassing them with gusto. It's a testament to the hard work, passion, and unwavering dedication of our team. Together, we're charting a course for success and pushing boundaries like there's no tomorrow.

  • What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date?

The global pandemic was a curveball that none of us saw coming. But despite all the uncertainty and chaos, I'm proud to say that both the sector as a whole and Rund specifically managed to hold their ground and even outperform expectations. It was no easy feat; I can assure you that. We had to adapt, pivot, and make some tough decisions along the way. And let's not forget the countless lessons we learned, not just about business strategies but also about the very essence of company culture. It was an interesting journey, but we came out stronger, wiser, and more resilient on the other side.

  • What single thing would help the sector deliver more homes?

For me there are two pressing issues; streamlining the planning process and tackling the persistent skills shortage. Red tape has long been a wasteful hurdle that slows down the progress of housing projects. Simplifying and expediting planning and approval procedures would allow developers and Housing Associations to bring homes to market more efficiently. Additionally, addressing the skills shortage is crucial. Investing in training programs, apprenticeships, and attracting talent to the industry would bolster the workforce and ensure that we have skilled professionals equipped to meet the challenges of delivering quality homes at a faster pace. By cutting through the red tape and bridging the skills gap, we can unlock the sector's true potential and deliver the homes our communities desperately need.

  • What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

Life can be challenging and unpredictable. It's easy to get disheartened or overwhelmed when things don't go as planned, but the key is patience, understanding that success often takes time and perseverance. It's about cultivating resilience, bouncing back from failures or disappointments, and staying committed to your goals. And above all, it's about tenacity, that unwavering determination to keep pushing forward, even when the going gets tough.

  • What single piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in your profession?

Embrace lifelong learning. The world is constantly evolving, and so is the field we work in. To thrive and excel, it's crucial to have a thirst for knowledge and a commitment to continuous growth. Stay curious, seek out opportunities to expand your skillset, and stay abreast of industry trends and advancements. Push yourself to constantly learn, adapt, and innovate. Whether it's through attending seminars, pursuing further education, or networking with industry peers, never stop investing in your professional development.

  • Who do you most admire in the housing industry?

The late Tony Pidgley, the founder of Berkeley Group. He was a huge inspiration to me when I first started out and throughout my career. Tony was well known for his relentless work ethic, keen eye for detail and ambitions for Berkeley Group. Tony had the gift of judgement, knowing what sites to purchase, what to build, and what people wanted. He has been an amazing idol throughout my career.

  • What is your favourite residential scheme and why?

The Grainger collection at Wellesley in Aldershot.  The scheme includes 20 development zones and will provide 3,850 dwellings on completion – 35% of which will be affordable homes. The site, which was formally military land, involved the refurbishment of listed buildings, including the renowned Cambridge Military Hospital, which dates back to 1875. Rund worked alongside Grainger on this project as Project Manager, Employer’s Agent, and Clerk of Works. Wellesley is the result of a unique partnership between the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Grainger

  • What is your least favourite residential scheme and why?

I wouldn’t say I have a least favourite residential scheme. All schemes are different in their unique way and are developed with the local community in mind.

  • What is it like being you (and doing your job)?

As the Managing Director of Rund, my primary responsibilities revolve around three key areas: driving new business growth, effectively managing our talented staff, and charting the strategic direction for the company. It's a dynamic role that requires a keen focus on securing exciting opportunities, fostering a high-performing team culture, and ensuring that our company remains sustainable. From identifying new avenues for expansion and building strong relationships with clients, to nurturing our team's skills and potential and making strategic decisions that propel us forward, I have the privilege of guiding Rund towards a future filled with endless possibilities.

  • What do you think your best quality is?

I would say it is my honesty and approachability which I think is important. I believe in transparent communication, which really does foster an environment of trust and integrity. It means we can address challenges openly, whilst celebrating the successes knowing we’ve achieved them with integrity. This approachable nature also creates a welcoming atmosphere where our staff feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. I like to think that these qualities in me can empower my team, and contribute to a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and heard

  • Tell us about a secret skill we don’t know you have

Ever since I was a kid, I've had a real passion for swimming, and it's a hobby I've held onto all these years. I've been working hard to perfect my butterfly stroke, which I hope will be mastered before the summer holidays!

  • What is your most prized possession?

While I don't place much value on material possessions like flashy cars or designer jewellery, I would have to say that I most cherish my daughter. I am incredibly proud of her and the person she has become. She brings so much happiness and fulfilment to my life, making her one of the greatest blessings I have.

  • Early bird or night owl?

I have been an early bird since a young age. I enjoy those couple of hours in the morning before everyone else wakes up. It gives me time to catch up on the news and make plans for the day ahead of me.

  • What is your favourite food?

This is a tough question, but I would have to say Thai curry. Anyone who knows me would tell you how much I enjoy catching up with friends and colleagues with a fantastic Thai curry.

  • What would your superpower be?

Knowing what people are thinking. This would have so many advantages in everyday life and would be extremely helpful when working on bids for new projects.

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