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Our Executive Team

Your residential property services team. Expertise that puts you in the safest of hands.

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Nigel Howell

CHIEF EXECUTIVE – Nigel Howell

Having joined FirstPort as Chief Financial Officer in 2013, Nigel was appointed Chief Executive in February 2015. He led a significant performance turnaround at the company with a clear focus on strategy, customer service, staff engagement, and safety – delivering for customers, clients and investors alike whilst creating a sense of pride amongst colleagues. Nigel has a clear vision of how professional property management aligns to modern lifestyles and benefits residential customers and investors, and he is delivering a digital transformation to improve customer service and convenience still further.

Nigel’s career has included working in senior finance, strategy, and business development roles at Morrison plc, Hawker Siddeley, Shell, Cable & Wireless, and Centrica/British Gas, both in the UK and overseas. Nigel is a Trustee on the board of Trust for London, a qualified accountant (FCMA), and a Member of the Institute of Residential Property Management (MIRPM).

David Young

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – David Young

David joined FirstPort in March 2020 and has a wealth of experience leading large, field-based, consumer, commercial and residential customer service businesses.

David was previously Director of British Gas’ Service and Repair business where he was responsible for ten million customer visits per year through a large nationwide servicing engineer network. He has also worked as Commercial Director for Carilion Energy Services, Operations Director for Homeserve and Head of Roadside for RAC. MBA-qualified, David’s expertise includes service delivery, operations management, facilities management and business transformation.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, COMMERCIAL & ASSET MANAGEMENT – Luke Sanders

Luke joined FirstPort in September 2020 through the acquisition of Mainstay Group where he was Group MD, leading a transformation of the business both in terms of customer service in residential block management and also expansion into asset and commercial facilities management.

Previously Luke held senior roles with a number of major outsourced service providers delivering property and facilities services to corporate and public sector occupiers.

Ouda Saleh

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER – Ouda Saleh

Ouda joined FirstPort in May 2013 having held a number of senior financial roles in a related sector and has amassed over 10 years of experience in senior and middle manager roles at large organisations including Mears Plc, HMRC and a top 10 audit practice. This experience, along with his technical knowledge and strong interpersonal skills, provides the financial and commercial leadership needed to FirstPort and its customers.

Ouda is a fellow Chartered Certified Accountant (FCCA) and a member of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM).

Mark Varley

DIRECTOR OF HEALTH AND SAFETY – Mark Varley

Mark joined FirstPort in May 2014 as Group Head of Health and Safety and also has responsibility for management of the office portfolio. His previous roles include Head of Health and Safety for Metropolitan Housing and Care and Support, UK Health, Safety and Environment Manager for E.ON and Health and Safety Director for Associated Training and Consultancy.

Mark is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Safety and Health, a Member of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management with over 20 years’ experience in health and safety, and a Member of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM).

Michael Venus

CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER – Michael Venus

Michael joined FirstPort in February 2020 and has a wealth of experience leading HR teams and delivering complex change programmes. Michael previously worked for Multiplex, where he was Human Resources Director. He has also worked as Human Resources Director for Future plc and has been Head of Resourcing and Development and Head of HR for AutoTrader UK.

Michael’s expertise covers generalist HR, organisational design, leadership and management development, talent acquisition and employee relations. Michael is certified to SDI Level 1, LSi, MBTI Steps 1 and 2 and is an accredited workplace mediator.

CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICERPhil Tyler

Phil joined FirstPort in June 2021 as Chief Digital Officer and leads digital change and IT. A skilled senior leader of digital technology delivery and operations, Phil has broad cross-sector experience that spans energy, finance, telecoms and health.

From start-ups through to multinational corporations, Phil has circa 20 years’ experience running technology companies, IT departments, and digital programmes. His previous roles include Head of Global Programme Delivery for Gazprom Marketing & Trading, Chief Operating Officer of a digital agency and, most recently, Phil held the role of Chief Operating Officer of a digital start-up.

DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS – Lucy Blanchard

Lucy joined FirstPort in 2018 and was promoted to Director of Marketing & Communications in 2020.

Lucy has previously held regional and global marketing roles, focusing on enabling business growth and building brand across a range of industries including management consultancies, luxury automotive and professional services for infrastructure and engineering programmes.

Russell Tillison

DIRECTOR OF LEGAL AND BUSINESS CONDUCT – Russell Tillison

Russell joined FirstPort in January 2015 to lead our large in-house legal team. Whilst Russell performs a general counsel role he is a specialist real estate solicitor with wide experience in the sector. In the past, Russell has worked for one of the worlds largest law firms and been part of the Chief Operating Officers legal team at Barclays Bank.

Russell gained significant experience of property management whilst working in private practice having advised clients such as Barclays, Sainsbury’s, Westfield Shopping Centres, Virgin, Network Rail – along with many others in relation to issues affecting their property portfolios. He is a qualified lawyer (LLB Hons), a member of the senior executive board at FirstPort and a Member of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM).

Felix Keen

DIRECTOR FOR INDUSTRY SERVICES – Felix Keen

Felix has enjoyed a career in the wider property sector spanning over 20 years. Joining FirstPort in 2002, Felix has held board level roles in Human Resources, Property Management (where he led the Resident Management Company Division) and latterly Director for Industry Engagement.

His diverse background gives him a unique perspective which has allowed him to lead several major projects for FirstPort, including due diligence and mobilisation. Felix’s previous roles were within the property divisions of the Metropolitan Police Services and Carillion where he was involved in several large scale Public Sector transfers and mobilisations.

Felix has been Chairman of the Institute of Residential Property Management, the governing body for accrediting property managers, and involved in several industry groups helping government reform leasehold policy.

Anthony Vaz

DIRECTOR OF IT – Anthony Vaz

Anthony joined FirstPort in August 2015 and was promoted to Director of IT in May 2017. With a successful background of senior IT Leadership roles working for such companies as Tesco, Thompson Reuters and BMI Healthcare, Anthony has amassed over 20 years of experience.

Anthony is incredibly passionate about technology, and about how technology can deliver real and exciting benefits to FirstPort, our colleagues, customers, clients and contractors.