Solving Complex Problems in Student Housing – with Kern Williams



As you rise through the ranks of a career in student housing, you face more and more complex problems. Imagine, for example, taking on a site that has occupancy concerns, building issues AND staffing challenges. So, what do successful leaders do to avoid overwhelm and focus their energy on finding solutions?

Kern Williams serves as Regional Manager and Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force at COCM. In his 15 years in student housing, Kern has worked at a variety of institutions and been an active contributor to the profession at large, giving national webinars and conference presentations on undocumented students, access to higher education, team dynamics and staff motivation.

On this episode, Kern joins Leigh Anne to share his unique shift from insurance to student housing and discuss how having the right mentor influenced him to pursue a career in higher education. Kern describes both the challenge and reward of managing from a distance, offering advice on breaking down big problems and turning worry into action. Listen in for Kern’s insight on asking the right questions, serving as a mentor and a mentee, and developing the wide range of skills required to be a leader in the student housing space!

Topics Covered 

  • How Kern transitioned from the insurance industry to student housing
  • Kern’s insight on the unique range of skills you develop as a student housing professional
  • How having a mentor who looked like him influenced Kern to make a career of student housing
  • Realizing you’re in the right place when colleagues start coming to you for advice
  • Kern’s ability to manage people, process and product effectively
  • How Kern navigates the challenge of managing from a distance
  • The opportunity for growth that comes from managing a variety of staff and locations remotely
  • How Kern learned to overcome overwhelm by breaking down big problems
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions (even in a leadership role)
  • The value in finding a mentor and serving as a mentor yourself
  • Kern’s advice for aspiring student housing professionals on turning worry into action

Connect with Kern Williams

Connect with Leigh Anne