FOR those of a certain footballing persuasion, Paul Fiddaman had the perfect career.

He was ingrained in the fabric of Sunderland AFC, holding roles as financial controller, general manager and club secretary during the early to mid-1990s.

However, while he admits the glamour of the footballing world was exciting, he doesn’t regret the day he left the industry.

It was, it turns out, football that set him on the way to where he is today.

More specifically, it was Bob Murray, the former Sunderland AFC chairman, who sought to instil a sense of social responsibility and civic pride among colleagues.

Mr Fiddaman joined the board of a housing association while at the football club, which proved to be the catalyst for a change in career.

“Bob was very keen on the club being a community anchor,” says Mr Fiddaman, who trained and qualified as an accountant prior to his Roker Park days.

“The football club was transformed, you got a sense of it being a place on the move.

“There was the Stadium of Light and the upgrading of the training facilities and Bob left the club in that respect in a really good place.

“However, I think I’ve found my vocation and I’m very happy with my choice.

“I genuinely love what I do; I occasionally think I maybe miss a bit of the glamour of being in and around football.

“But one of the great things about working in the housing sector is that you are surrounded by people who think the same way as you.

“We have people with a real sense of mission and they really do want to make a difference to lives.”

Mr Fiddaman’s first full-time job in housing was with Enterprise 5 in 1996, when he became director of finance and development.

He’s since held a number of roles, including group director of finance and corporate services at Fabrick Housing and chief executive at Cestria Housing.

When Cestria became part of the Isos Housing Group, he was appointed deputy chief executive before taking over as group chief executive of the Isos Group.

However, things changed again earlier this year when Derwentside Homes, in Stanley, County Durham, joined forces with Newcastle’s Isos Housing and group partner Cestria Community Housing.

The venture was named Karbon Homes, with Mr Fiddaman made group chief executive, and it owns and manages nearly 24,000 homes across the region.

Upon its foundation, bosses said Karbon would generate annual turnover of around £115m and build more than 500 homes every year to rent or buy.

“We were immensely proud of what Isos, Cestria and Derwentside achieved,” said Mr Fiddaman, “but it was time for a fresh start.

“Karbon is all about providing foundations and the importance of a home for people to lead successful lives.”

Such work to strengthen communities led Karbon, and more precisely its Prince Bishops Homes subsidiary, to support this year’s Durham Lumiere light festival, which came to a close last night.

Artists from around the world illuminated the city, with Prince Bishops Homes, which has developments in Darlington and Spennymoor, as well as houses on the outskirts of Durham City, an installation sponsor.

Reflecting on the decision to back the event, Mr Fiddaman said that while it was a good way of introducing more people to the division, the act of raising the region’s profile was equally imperative.

He added: “It is so important for the North-East to highlight the positive stories here because it is too easy to harp on about the north/south divide.

“We must show people nationally and internationally what we can do.”

Five minutes with… Paul Fiddaman

Favourite North-East building and why? I think the Sage Gateshead takes some beating. It occupies a great position, is an iconic design, meets its purpose really well, and symbolises the regeneration of the whole quayside area.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? I worked part-time in a supermarket warehouse for the grand sum of £15 per week.

What is the worst job you've had? I spent a summer picking fruit in Scotland. It was hard work and you had to be good at it to make any money at all, which I wasn’t.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? Probably Thai curry with southern curried noodles.

What would your superpower be? It would be fun to fire the odd lightning bolt at certain world leaders.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Brian Clough, Ghandi, George RR Martin and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? I was the proud owner of a robotic lawnmower, which is a lazy gardener’s dream, but it has recently broken down. It cost me about £700 from a friend.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Donald Trump rarely fails to stir things up. Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme is often quite funny too.

Favourite book? So many to choose. Lord of the Rings is one I keep going back to, but Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People had a big impact on me when I first read it.

When did you last cry? One of our cats died a couple of months ago. She was a grand old age, but still…

What is your greatest achievement? Climbing Kilimanjaro was a tough physical challenge and I look back on it with pride. Becoming chief executive of Karbon Homes has been the pinnacle of my working career so far.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Always treat people with dignity and respect, and strive to be authentic.

Favourite animal and why? I once read a sloth is so lazy that, when faced with a forest fire, it would rather burn that move quickly. That’s a pretty cool animal, right?

Most famous person on your mobile phone? It’s between Peter Reid and the Bishop of Newcastle.

What was the last band you saw live? I was at The Cluny a few weeks ago for an event where some local bands came together to play through Radiohead’s OK Computer album for its 20th anniversary. That was fun.

Describe your perfect night in: A bottle of wine and a take-away with my wife, in front of Sky Movies.

In another life I would be... A much better guitarist.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Anthony Hopkins (sadly).

What irritates you? So-called reality TV.

What's your secret talent? I become awesome at karaoke after a couple of drinks.