national careers week at Unitas

National Careers Week 2021: We speak to our staff about their career development at Unitas

As part of National Careers Week, we spoke to four members of staff, who were recently successful in new appointments at Unitas, about their job roles, their career development, and what it’s like to work at Unitas Stoke-on-Trent.


Lee Wood, Project Manager, joined Unitas in August 2018, after working for Network Rail and Prestec UK. Lee was originally taken on as an agency Site Manager and soon joined the Unitas team in a permanent Site Manager position, managing large estate projects across the city. In November last year, Lee was successful in his application for his current role as Project Manager.

What is involved in your new role?

In my role as Project Manager, I manage certain pre-construction activities, such as helping to procure contractors, liaising with the supply chain and carrying out pre-start meetings. I review materials, risk assessments and method statements. Performance management is a large part of my role, and I create management information to balance the budget against productivity and time.

I also manage four Site Managers – without their efforts and level of professionalism I would not be able to carry out this role effectively.

I am relishing the opportunity I’ve been given to improve the standard of living conditions throughout Stoke-on-Trent. I now have the scope to look at the ways in which I can add value to processes, inter-departmental communication and the development of my teams.


Why did you apply for the role?

I applied for this role as I felt a could make a positive difference in the way we manage projects and I am passionate about keeping the pound firmly in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Being born in Chell Health, I love to see the positive impact Unitas brings to the city and its people.


Did you receive the right support to develop your career?

I was encouraged to go for the role by my line manager and peers at Unitas – it’s great to work for a company that supports its staff. Unitas have a strong set of values that form the foundation of the business, driving the culture and work ethos by putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.



Phil Lovatt, Site Manager at Unitas Stoke-on-Trent, went to City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College and went on to study Business Management at Staffordshire University. In 2010, he got a job at Kier Stoke and, over nine years, was able to work his way up through the company.

Phil completed his degree in Construction and Commercial Management with Kier and joined Unitas as an Operational Team Leader. Phil moved on to a role as Relief Site Manager and was recently promoted to permanent Site Manager in January this year.


What is involved in your new role?

As Site Manager, I am working on roofing projects at the moment and I am currently planning next year’s roofing and pointing projects alongside my Project Manager, Lee Wood.


Why did you apply for the role?

I wanted to grow from being an OTL and put what I learned from university into practice. The opportunity to manage large scale works that benefit the area, dealing with contractors and developing external relationships was an attractive proposition.

I am enjoying the opportunity to gain new skills and increase my technical knowledge while on the job.


Did you receive the right support to develop your career?

I’ve received lots of encouragement throughout the years to develop and apply for opportunities wherever possible and was always supported by my Line Manager.

I get lots of support from my Project Manager, Lee, and other site managers within Unitas to carry out my new role. Unitas has a culture of support throughout in terms of work and staff wellbeing.



Tim Thorley, Pre-Construction Project Manager at Unitas, started his career as an apprentice carpenter at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Kier Stoke, earning his Level 3 in Site Carpentry and Management with Burslem College. Tim later had the opportunity to return to the college in 2009 to deliver a presentation to young, aspiring tradespeople about his career.

After achieving a First Class Honours degree in Construction and Commercial Management at Sheffield Hallam, Tim continued to develop his career at Kier and then Unitas, working as an Operational Team Leader for responsive and void properties, Site Manager, Project Planner, before being promoted following a successful interview to Pre-Construction Project Manager in February this year.


What is involved in your new role?

I manage all of the pre-construction elements associated with the capital works programme, liaising with Project managers, Procurement Officers, Statutory Service Providers, Surveyors, the Project Planner, clients and the Principal Designer to ensure milestones, such as Bills of Quantities, Condition Reports, Asbestos Reports, and Pre-Construction information packs, are complete and all Construction Design and Management (CDM) stipulations are met prior to projects becoming live.

In addition to this, I am currently project managing a range of projects, such as a kitchen refurbishment programme to 190 properties and a selection of garage sites which are being refurbished.


Why did you apply for the role?

I wanted to progress into a more pre-construction focused role – it was natural career progression and I also wanted to be more directly involved with project managing as a whole.


Did you receive the right support to develop your career?

I received a lot of encouragement from my line manager to progress in my role.


Do you like working for Unitas?

Yes, as a Stokie born and bred, I’m immensely proud to be part of a company that does so much to improve Stoke-on-Trent as a city.



Matt Harrison, Project Planner at Unitas, previously worked at Kier Stoke, Stafford and Rural Homes and Thomas Vale. Originally from Stafford, Matt moved to Stoke after the birth of his son in 2006 and went to Stoke College in Burslem to complete his HNC.

He joined the Unitas team as a Site Manager, working on estates approach work, high rise flats and bungalow improvements, before moving into Tim’s previous role as Project Planner this February.


What is involved in your new role?

Having picked up the baton from Tim as the Project Planner, I arrange all the planned works from concept to delivery. I manage key milestones such as surveying procurement mobilisation, pre- and post-contract programmes and bi-weekly updates with Project Managers, Site Managers, Surveyors and Procurement Officers to understand and help mitigate any project risks.

I am enjoying the challenges it has brought to me as it is a very fast paced role. I’ve been able to learn new systems that I was previously unaware of as a Site Manager. I am also thoroughly enjoying the experience of working at all levels, from Senior Management to liaising with Procurement Officers and Surveyors.


Why did you apply for the role?

I saw an opportunity to go for a role that was quite different, and I wanted to show that I was willing to grow and develop within the business, so it felt like a natural career progression. My Head of Service was great and encouraged me to go for the role.


Did you receive the right support to develop your career?

I have been given lots of support and training in my new role. My Head of Service has been excellent, and Tim has been at the end of the phone whenever I’ve needed any support and help. Unitas has given me a great opportunity to develop myself and my career.


For more information about apprenticeships, work experience and careers at Unitas Stoke-on-Trent, go to our Careers page.

You can also work with Unitas as a contractor – find out more about our supply chain and procurement opportunities here.

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