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A Week in the Life of Zeno Rea – North East Times

Tuesday June 4, 2013

Zeno is interviewed for a week in the life
Zeno is interviewed for a week in the life


Hit the alarm clock, get up, shower and go down to breakfast. Check the news on my iPad while four year old Laila is getting ready for nursery. Set off for our office in Heaton. I work 10.00-6.00 so I get to do the school run and miss the rush hour.

Monday morning is team meeting time. Our estate managers Nichaela and Lauren plan their week, meeting tenants and ensuring new properties are ready for them to occupy. Our maintenance crew updates us on progress and Damiano our managing director makes sure all the threads pull together. We finish off with my quality circle meeting.

I have always been fascinated with Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning ‘improvement. Kaizen means that we can continuously improve our processes so everybody from our MD to our newest recruit has to suggest one little thing we can do better. The day everyone says “There is nothing we can improve” I will be worried. There is always something we can do.


Meeting with Lauren, our digital communications lead and with our web development team. We are developing an app which will allow tenants to access our property list on their iPhone or Android. The app must sync with our existing software and web portals so that property details are up to date in real time. It is a complex project but so far everybody is enjoying the challenge.

Usually lunch is a salad box at my desk unless I have had time to prepare Sushi. Between my love of Sushi and Kaizen I sometimes think I am turning Japanese.


Meeting with a landlord who wants us to convert a house with five student bed-sits into a five bedroom home. I suggest our ProShare Plus scheme where we arrange for five young professionals to take on the tenancy. They get a single monthly bill which covers rent, utilities, Council Tax, internet and cleaner. They are ‘houseshares without the headache’. The tenants initially get to know each other through Facebook. By the time they move in they are fast becoming friends. This means a happier tenancy and no arguments over bills. Both tenants and landlords love ProShare Plus.


Site meeting with Damiano who founded the firm in 2005, to look at a double fronted Victorian terraced house which is classed as a ‘distressed property’. Since it needs complete refurbishment we are meeting the interior designer and our project manager on site. My background is Design for Industry in which I have a degree and it is a discipline which can be applied to the refurbishment of a house. We all get a kick out of seeing a shabby house transformed into a warm, modern home but I get a particular buzz out of finding ways in which modern materials can enhance the home for its new tenants.


Everybody’s favorite day because the office is buzzing and the weekend is looming. I reserve part of Friday for research.

The industrial design community is pretty open, swapping ideas, experiences and concepts. Fridays seems to be the day when this happens. Science and technology are constantly improving the way we build and constantly improving the lives of our tenants so this is a vital part of my week.

Friday afternoon is a great time as the office is full of excited tenants who can’t wait to move into their new home. There is usually lots of coffee, banter and laughter. This is a great way to do business and a great way to finish the working week.

At 6.00pm we hand over to the ‘out of hours team’ who ensure a 24/7 service for our landlords and tenants, then I head off home. We might go out to eat otherwise we have a family meal. Then a quiet evening with my partner watching TV, reading a book or sharing a bottle of wine and non work related conversation. That alarm clock can have a rest until Monday.

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