Meet the MD: Paul Hardisty of Octopus QSH

Meet the MD: Paul Hardisty of Octopus QSH

As managing director of Octopus QSH, Paul Hardisty has ambitious growth plans for the company which aims to become a market leader in new areas of private investment in affordable housing. He tells BQ about his journey with the company so far.

Describe your role in brief...

I am one of the founding directors and chief executive of Octopus QSH.

My primary role is to find and develop new affordable housing opportunities while providing overall management for the organisation.


What is it the company does?

Octopus QSH is a joint venture, formed in October 2015, between Octopus Investments, a fast-growing UK fund management company with more than £5.5bn of funds under management, and QSH, an affordable housing developer specialising in building affordable homes with little or no government money.

I founded QSH in 2009 with the aim of replacing government subsidy by attracting private investment into the type of housebuilding that people across the UK want and need.

We’re very proud of our rent to buy scheme, through which half of tenants’ rental payments – set at affordable rent levels – are put towards the deposits they need to secure a mortgage to buy their home.

Our residents can raise a 10% deposit and the build the credit history needed to purchase their property while living in it.

We’re giving people who dream of owning their own home, but would otherwise stand little chance of being able to, the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Someone with the vision to see where we need to go, and the ambition and tenacity to get there.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Changing public sector culture so that local authorities and housing associations see the opportunity for private investment to help them deliver affordable housing.

Octopus QSH provides a bridge between the public and private sectors. For us, the most important thing is to work with local authorities, house builders and social landlords to provide the homes that local people really want and need.

In the past it has been difficult to attract institutional investment into the sector but investment companies like Octopus see the growth opportunity that affordable housing offers their investors.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Travelling to watch the rugby in France and cycling.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A rugby league professional like my uncle; Alan Hardisty, who was captain of Castleford, Leeds, and Great Britain.


Any pet hates in the workplace?

People creating wriggle room in discussions – they make promises about when things are going to achieved, but give themselves some flexibility just in case.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I would like to think we will be market leaders in new areas of private investment in affordable housing.

Octopus QSH creates an opportunity to really scale up our work delivering homes up and down the UK.

We’re flexible about the sites we work with, the number of homes we build and the type of properties we offer. 

Octopus has a track record for developing market leaders across a whole range of sectors – we look forward to working with them to deliver thousands of affordable homes.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Never, ever, ever give up.       


Where did you start your career?

Birmingham City Council as a housing benefit clerk.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

1985-1995 Birmingham City Council’s housing department

1995-2006 Consultant, firstly at CIPFA, then KPMG, then freelance

2006-2009 Back at Birmingham City Council as service director of housing

2009 formed QSH

2015 QSH entered into a joint venture with Octopus Investments