Meet the people behind Aster

The Overlap Boards

  • 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 30,000 homes. 

    Bjorn has worked in the housing, care and support industry for 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.

    Committee Membership:

    Customer and Community Network

  • 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.

  • Chris Benn Group finance director

    Chris joined Aster in 2014, bringing with him extensive experience from the commercial sector.

    Before Aster, Chris held senior finance positions at Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC and Regus PLC. At Euromoney he ensured the finance team were able to support the five-fold profit increase of the Group from both organic growth, and through acquisitions, including the acquisition of a fellow FTSE-250 listed Group. At Regus Chris was involved in the IPO and floatation of Regus’ shares on both the FTSE and NASDAQ indices.

    Chris qualified as a chartered accountant at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) in 1994.

  • Mike Biles Group chairman

    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 national and international 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 and was a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

    Committee membership:

    Group Risk and Compliance Committee

    Group Remuneration & Nominations Committee

  • Caroline Wehrle Non-executive director

    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 16 years has undertaken a number of senior finance positions with Diageo, culminating in her final 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.

    Committee Membership:

    Chair Group Risk and Compliance Committee

    Group Treasury Committee

  • 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 Silva Homes.

  • Tracey Peters Non-executive director, Senior independent director

    Tracey is an accomplished Human Resources professional. She has worked as an Executive Board HR Professional in many industry sectors including Retail, Manufacturing and Electronic Banking and has fifteen years of Non-Executive Director experience with organisations such as Spectrum Housing Association, Dorset County Hospital FT and Lighthouse Poole. 

    Tracey runs a Consulting Business specialising in Organisational and Personal Development which offers Executive Coaching and Counselling.  She is also a Non-Executive Director and Trustee of Active Dorset, which engages with many stakeholders in the South West encouraging people to include physical activity in their everyday lives. 

    Tracey also works as a volunteer with Relate working in schools with children who are suffering emotional difficulties.

    Committee Membership:

    Chair of the Customer & Community Network

    Group Remuneration & Nominations Committee

  • Mike McCullen Non-executive director

    Michael is an accomplished CEO, Chairman and technology entrepreneur with over 30-years’ leadership experience in private, public and venture backed businesses specialising in technology for the built environment. 

    Michael was a co-founder and Managing Director of Asta Development plc, the UK’s most successful project management software business for the construction industry, which he grew and led to exit in 2006. He is a former Group Board Director of an AIM listed technology business and was CEO of its international construction software and services business for over eight years. 

    He has extensive overseas experience having led construction technology businesses in Sweden and Germany and established international distribution in Australia, Europe and the USA.  He has completed a number of international acquisitions. 

    Michael started his own consultancy practice in 2015 working as an independent director and consultant advising private equity firms on technology investments and VC-backed technology start-ups.  He is currently Director of Pre-contract Solutions at Causeway Technologies. 

    He holds a Computer Science degree (Manchester) and an MBA (Warwick). 

    Committee Membership:

    Group Risk & Compliance Committee

    Group Remuneration & Nominations Committee

  • Clive Barnett Non-executive director

    Clive recently retired from RBS/NatWest having been head of the bank’s housing finance team for many years.  He worked within the social housing finance market for over 20 years and was recognised as a leading figure in that sector.  Clive represented RBS within Government circles, including HCA, DGLG and CML Housing Committee. 

    In addition to his role with Aster, Clive also holds other non-executive positions and was also a consultant director with one of the sector’s leading treasury advisers for a short while.

    Committee Membership:

    Chair Group Audit Committee

    Group Treasury Committee

  • David Bridges Co-optee

    David started his career with Shell before moving into management consultancy, firstly with Deloitte, where he ended up as the Partner leading their UK Consumer Business team, and then running a specialist Sales & Marketing strategy consultancy.

    Since 2007, he has worked at a senior level for a number of leading property companies including housebuilders (Taylor Wimpey, Linden, Keepmoat and McCarthy & Stone), a major asset manager (SEGRO) and construction companies (Wates and Keepmoat).

    David has now set up his own consultancy, advising property companies on strategy and business improvement.

    Committee Membership (as Co-optee):

    Group Audit Committee

    Group Treasury Committee

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