Meet the people behind Aster

The Overlap Board

  • Andrew Jackson Group chairman

    Andrew brings an extensive knowledge of financial affairs, risk management, internal control structures and performance monitoring to the role of chairman. He has served on the Overlap Board and chaired the Group Audit and Group Risk Committees.

    A chartered accountant, Andrew has held executive and non-executive directorships in a number of industries including energy and construction working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Alfred McAlpine.

    He has previously served on Aster Group’s property maintenance and asset management division board.

    Committees: Group Treasury Committee, Group Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

  • Phillip Owens Non-executive director, senior independent director

    Phillip is a solicitor and until his retirement, was a director, company secretary and senior management consultant for two consultancy firms serving the housing and public sector. During this time he played a leading role in the transfer of housing stock helping to create over 20 new housing companies and management organisations.

    In local government Phillip has had departmental responsibility for legal, human resources, corporate governance and direct services in local authorities in London and the South East. He was chief executive of top performing Kennet District Council and has held non-executive posts as a director and Audit and Risk Committee chair of the former NHS Trust Wiltshire and Swindon.

    Phillip has been chair of Aster’s Property Division and the Governance Review Steering Group.

    Committees: Customer and Community Network, Group Audit Committee, Group Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

  • Mike Biles Non-executive director

    Mike has a doctorate in law and was housing ombudsman for England for 13 years until 2014. This role has given him an extensive understanding of all aspects of rented housing from complaint handling and dispute resolution to customer service, support and building good relations between providers and customers.

    Mike has taught Land Law, Landlord and Tenant Law and Housing Law extensively. He has also published articles in this field and has chaired and spoken at numerous industry-related conferences.

    Mike is a visiting professor in law at Southampton Business School where he has also held the post of Head of the School of Law. He has been a lawyer member of the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal and a member of the management committee of a registered social provider.

    Mike is an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Housing. He was a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

    Committees: Chair, Group Audit Committee, Co-opted member of the Customer and Community Network, Group Risk and Compliance Committee, Group Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

  • Bjorn Howard Executive director, Group CEO

    Bjorn became Aster Group’s CEO in 2009 and has been instrumental in driving growth, including leading Aster’s successful merger with Synergy Housing in 2012.  Since then, the group’s housing business has grown to more than 29,000 homes.

    Bjorn has worked in the housing, care and support industry for nearly 30 years and has extensive board-level experience in both executive and non-executive roles. He has served as a non-executive director for an NHS Trust, educational organisations, regeneration boards and as a government appointee to a housing association.

    Bjorn holds a master’s degree in management and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Chartered Management Institute. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors.

    Committees: Customer and Community Network

  • Sally Higham Non-executive director

    Sally is a multi award-winning social entrepreneur and CEO of the early stage social venture,  She has considerable experience in supporting new ventures and building strong strategic advisory relationships at a national level across public, private and third sectors undergoing change processes.

    Sally is a social strategist committed to supporting communities, education, youth services, charities, social enterprises and social housing to grow.  She delivers keynote speeches on both using technology to create social change and social entrepreneurship and has formed a networking forum (Championing Women) of male and female leaders across multiple sectors, to support women in their careers.

    In her additional role as Non Executive Director for Bromford Housing Group Board, Sally is a member of their Audit and Assurance and Remuneration and Nominations Committees.  She is also the current Chair of the Impact Management Steering Committee led by Access, the Foundation for Social Investment and has also been Chair of ASK, a Wiltshire parenting charity.

    Committees: Chair, Group Risk and Compliance Committee, Group Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

  • Andrew Kluth Non-Executive Director

    Andrew is a career finance professional specialising in the Treasury arena. He has held a number of senior roles, primarily in the debt finance function within British Gas, Vodafone and National Grid and is currently Head of Treasury at UK Power Networks. In his early career Andrew helped finance Eurotunnel before working on the demerger of Centrica from British Gas and the separation of the Gas Distribution Networks from Lattice Group.  Andrew has worked on several large acquisitions globally including Mannesmann at Vodafone and Keyspan Corp at National Grid. 

    Andrew has held a number of other non-executive posts including as a director of Aerion Fund Management and roles relating to his work as a trustee for various pension schemes.

    Committees: Chair Group Treasury Committee.

  • Michael Reece Group operations director

    Michael is responsible for all group housing, care and support, asset management and maintenance activities.

    Michael joined Aster Group in 2008 as managing director of Aster Property Management where he progressed to group operations and asset director.

    He has spent over 25 years in the maintenance sector working in a variety of contractor, consultant, local authority and housing association senior roles.

    Michael has extensive operations experience including improving, restructuring and merging property maintenance functions, including improving direct labour organisations.

    He has quantity surveying qualifications, a law degree and an MBA.


  • Stephen Trusler Non-executive director

    Stephen is the Residential Sector Leader at Laing O'Rourke where he is responsible for leading strategic growth in the residential business.

    Stephen has previously held senior roles with large housing companies: Wates Living Space, Alfred McAlpine and Lovell.

    With over 30 years experience in the housing industry Stephen has an extensive track record in successfully growing major businesses.  He is committed to ensuring that housing supply and affordability remains high on the Government’s political agenda and a passionate supporter of driving innovation across the construction industry.

    Stephen is a fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and a distinguished member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

    Committees: Chair of the  Group Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

  • Caroline Wehrle Co-optee

    Caroline has spent more than 20 years working in the fields of risk management, internal controls and, more recently, compliance and ethics.  

    The first 8 years of Caroline’s career were spent working in the engineering sector for WS Atkins, providing technical and quantitative risk management services to public and private sector clients, largely in the rail industry.  This included 4 years spent working in Hong Kong, China and Singapore.  

    Caroline joined Diageo’s internal audit function in 2003 and over the past 14 years has undertaken a number of senior finance positions with Diageo, culminating in her current role as Global Risk & Compliance Director leading an integrated global risk, control, compliance and ethics function.  Caroline is passionate about doing business the right way. 

    Caroline has a BA Hons degree in Risk Management from Glasgow Caledonian University, an MBA from Cass University, and is a member of the Institute of Risk Management.

    Committees:   Group Audit Committee – Co-optee

    Group Risk & Compliance Committee – Independent Member


  • Amanda Williams Group development director

    Amanda has over 25 years’ experience in development, marketing and asset management for registered social landlords, joining Aster Group in 2012. She was previously director of business development at Synergy, prior to the merger with Aster and drove the strategic direction of the association’s new-build development activity, including becoming an independent preferred investment partner.

    Before Aster, Amanda was head of development for Sanctuary Housing Group for London and the South East, and an associate director of Adams Integra, a consultancy specialising in housing development and planning. She was also director of development services for Apex Housing (now A2Dominion) for nine years where she was responsible for growing a mixed development programme from scratch to over 1,000 units per year.

    Amanda is a Board Director of Bracknell Forest Homes.