Chan Abraham

Chan Abraham

Areas of Interest

Alumni, Business

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Business Administration, 2012

Biography

Chan Abraham is an innovative and inspirational business leader, social entrepreneur, CEO of Cambridgeshire-based Luminus Group and celebrated Anglia Ruskin alumnus. 

Chan began his career in public service back in 1974, and would go on to lead multi-agency initiatives in areas as diverse as community development, health, crime reduction and economic development.

Driven by his own vision for change, Chan created a new company, Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership in 1997. He negotiated private finance to pay £65m to purchase the entire housing stock of 7,000 homes from Huntingdonshire District Council. Rents were restrained to affordable levels and £40 million was invested in improving tenants' homes and in providing new services.

Chan created Luminus Group in 2004, with Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership as one of its subsidiaries. Luminus now leads the way in socially responsible business in the East of England, providing affordable homes, high-quality real estate services, significant employment, and building sustainable communities.

The driving force behind Luminus's remarkable success is undoubtedly Chan's inspirational leadership. In 2008 Luminus joined the ranks of The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, in 2010 Chan was the top CEO, and by 2011 the company had risen to number two. In 2012 he was independently selected from surveys of 250,000 employees in 30,000 companies as one of the UK's ten Most People-Focused CEOs.



Citation

"Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Chan Abraham for the award of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa. 

Chan Abraham is an innovative and inspirational business leader, social entrepreneur, CEO of Cambridgeshire-based Luminus Group and celebrated Anglia Ruskin alumnus.

Chan began his career in public service back in 1974, rising quickly through the ranks and frequently moving to new organisations to find fresh challenges. He would go on to lead multi-agency initiatives in areas as diverse as community development, health, crime reduction and economic development. In fact, Chan's public service career was defined by his willingness to seek out areas where he could improve performance and deliver tangible benefits to local people.

In 1997 though, he faced a challenge that appeared insurmountable. Chan was deeply committed to improving housing services for local council tenants and the wider neighbourhoods and communities in which they lived, but he recognised that the hoped-for funding - vital to delivering the necessary improvements - was not going to materialise. His solution was to set out his own vision for change, one that would ultimately generate extensive community engagement, attract substantial private-sector funding, enhance housing services for tenants, and improve local communities.

To help turn this vision into reality, Chan created a new company, Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership, with the rather ambitious aim of taking over responsibility for local housing services and delivering the improvements that Chan was so committed to.

The first thing the new organisation did was to implement a consultation exercise, clearly explaining to 10,000 local council tenants the potential benefits of having their homes acquired by Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership. The tenants, while uncertain about their now unknown future, were impressed by Chan's vision and prepared to exercise their trust in him. So, backed by their overwhelming support, Chan negotiated private finance to pay £65M to purchase the entire housing stock of 7,000 homes from Huntingdonshire District Council. The move was to prove a stunning success. Not only were rents restrained to affordable levels, but £40 million was invested in improving tenants' homes and in providing new services, such as neighbourhood wardens, an anti social behaviour team and a scheme for trades apprentices creating job opportunities for young people. 

Yet there were more challenges to come. With a difficult economic environment and government changing the goals posts to remove anticipated funding for the development of new homes, Chan recognised that further innovation was needed if new homes were to be built to meet growing needs. To meet this new challenge, Luminus Group was created in 2004, with Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership as one of its subsidiaries.

Luminus was quick to take on additional interests, including Oak Foundation, a provider of older persons' housing, Diversa, a new commercial arm charged with providing new homes and The Ferry Project, a Fenland-based charity, focused on helping homeless people and HOPE Social Enterprises, a recycling company that is also providing employment opportunities for long-term unemployed people. The Luminus brand is now well-recognised and synonymous with excellence, and Luminus now leads the way in socially responsible business in the East of England, providing affordable homes, high-quality real estate services, significant employment, and crucially - building sustainable communities.

Chan has received awards too numerous to mention from organisations as diverse as The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the BBC, the National Business Awards and the Housing Excellence Awards. And Luminus now enjoys an international reputation as a model of best-practice in the provision of affordable housing services and employee engagement.

The driving force behind Luminus's remarkable success is undoubtedly Chan's inspirational leadership. He has a unique ability to share his vision and his passion with colleagues and employees and to bring them along on his journey. In 2008 Luminus joined the ranks of The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, in 2010 Chan was the top CEO, and by 2011 the company had risen to number two. One gets the feeling that Chan won't rest until Luminus tops the list. In 2012 he was independently selected from surveys of 250,000 employees in 30,000 companies as one of the UK's ten Most People-Focused CEOs.

Chan Abraham is an inspirational leader, one who has achieved that rare feat of creating a successful business that is truly socially responsible in all respects. Since graduating from Anglia Ruskin in 2001 with an MSc in Leadership in Management, Chan has maintained strong links with Anglia Ruskin University, sponsoring our Alumni Success in Business Award.

Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Chan Abraham for the award of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa."