This National Careers Week we are celebrating members of staff who have been successful in achieving internal appointments while working with Unitas.
As a business, we are committed to the training and development of our staff, giving them opportunities to thrive and grow their expertise. We have invested heavily in giving our staff a great place to work, one where they will enjoy coming to work and be at their best so that we can give our very best to the customers and the businesses we work with. We have developed a wellbeing team, for example, to make sure all our staff are well looked after.
This year, we caught up with Will Askey, Wes Walker and Liz Tomkinson, who have all recently secured new internal appointments, expanding their skills and progressing their career positively.
We asked them to share more about their experience working with Unitas – here’s what they had to say!
Will Askey, Quantity Surveyor
Will began in the industry as an apprentice electrician working for Stoke Council’s City Works department in 2007. He qualified in 2010 and continued to work as an electrician until 2016 when he was successful in applying for the role of Assistant Quantity Surveyor in Stoke Council’s Housing Assets Team. He attended the University of Wolverhampton one day a week to study for a degree in Quantity Surveying. Then, in 2018, he began working with Unitas while continuing his studies. In 2021, he graduated with a first-class honours degree.
Will’s duties include:
- Procuring contractors and sub-contractors
- Drafting contract documents
- Valuing and serving interim payment notices
- Valuing variations
- Producing monthly cost reports and cost forecasting
- Draft monthly invoices to the Council for works completed
- Valuing final accounts
He says: “Upon confirmation of passing my degree and qualifying as a Quantity Surveyor, I transferred into the role of a Quantity Surveyor at Unitas.
“I was grateful for the opportunity and felt ready to move into the role due to the learning I had gained in my studies alongside the experience gained on the job.
“I must give special mention to Russell Smith who has been my line manager since I was appointed to the role of Assistant Quantity Surveyor and has been brilliant in supporting me in my development.
“In the future, I hope to become a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and complete additional courses to further develop in the role.”
Wes Walker, Assistant Site Manager
Wes joined Stoke City Council on 1st August 2016 as a Gas Compliance Surveyor. He transferred over to Unitas in 2018, where he progressed to Gas Operational Team Leader in 2019. In 2020, he began studying for his HNC in Construction and Built Environment, which was the start of a new career path into construction site management. Wes studied one day a week at university while working with Unitas. Then, in 2021, he applied for the role of Assistant Site Manager and was appointed.
Wes’s role involves the support of on-site operational resources, including people, supply chain partners and physical assets. He is integral to the delivery of projects safely, on time, to a high-quality standard and in line with project budgets.
He says: “I am passionate about making a difference in my local community and improving the homes of our customers to make a positive impact. I am keen to learn new skills and to keep up with my professional development.
“I have had excellent support, training, and encouragement from Unitas. My project manager is a great mentor and since starting this role I have learned a lot. In January, Solihull University invited me to be a guest speaker and deliver a talk on my background and current role to Level 3 students – and the encouragement and support from my line manager was brilliant.
“When an employer invests time and money in the development of their staff, it allows the employee to feel appreciated and that you are making a difference.
“Being an assistant site manager is a stepping stone to a long career in site management with Unitas, I am learning and developing new skills all the time. Thank you Unitas!”
Liz Tomkinson, Senior Business Improvement Officer
Liz has been working with Unitas since February 2018. Prior to that, she had worked in the Third Sector for a mental health advocacy charity as an Office Manager and held a position as PA to Directors of Kier Housing Maintenance. Here she supported the Regional MD and six other Directors within Housing Maintenance including the Partnership Director at Kier Stoke. A secondment opportunity arose to work on an IT Transformation project across Housing Maintenance, which Liz took and learned the rudiments of project management under an experienced Senior PM. When she returned from maternity leave the following year, she was asked to support in the demobilisation of the Kier contract and, in February 2018, she was transferred over to Unitas. Liz has worked with her current team since then, under both the Asset Management & Investment team and, currently, within the Governance team. After working with the team for over three years, she decided to apply for the Senior Business Improvement Officer post and was successful.
Liz manages a team of six – four Business Improvement Officers, one Business Admin Officer and a Business Administration Apprentice in her first rotation across the business. She manages and allocates the work projects and tasks that come into the team such as Policy management and reviews, Section 20 work and external communications, including researching content for social media, PR & marketing, end of year and annual reports, website content management and customer feedback of planned projects.
She says: “I’d been with the team for over three years when the Senior Business Improvement Officer post came up for recruitment. I had been working part-time since returning from maternity leave and was looking for an opportunity to move to a full-time post. It had been some years since I had been in a management position, but I felt it was the right time to step up to a new challenge within Unitas.
“My line manager Erica Deaville was a huge influence in my decision to go for the role. She is an excellent manager and I have always enjoyed working for and with her. I admire how she seamlessly managed a heavy workload of her own, plus the team while treating everyone fairly and has always been an excellent role model. From day one when I first joined the team, Erica has supported me in my learning and development and has always encouraged me in every way possible.
“While Erica has been on maternity leave, Rachel Forster, who has stepped up as acting Governance & Business Improvement Manager, has also been fantastic and has guided me with a supporting hand throughout. I couldn’t ask for better managers than both Erica and Rachel, I’m very fortunate to have both of them in the background cheerleading me on.”
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.