Member Spotlight: Matthew Parkin
Tell us about your role as Sales and Service Manager within the Unite Team? What does a day at work look like for you in your role?
As a Service and Sales Manager my day-to-day role is predominantly centred around managing the sales performance of a multi-million pound operation in Sheffield. We currently have nine properties in the city totalling around 5,000 bedrooms, and in addition to sales management of these bedrooms I have responsibility for arrears control, health & safety, local budgetary controls and line management of our Supervisory Team. Due to the size of the Sheffield portfolio we have two SSM’s in the city, I therefore share my responsibilities with a colleague.
You’ve recently celebrated the opening of Unite’s latest development ‘St Vincent’s Place’ in Sheffield. Tell us more about the process and the work you’ve been involved in to launch St Vincent’s.
When I joined Unite the St Vincent’s Place development was in its very early stages of building work, so I have been able to witness its growth through to completion and opening over the past 18 months. The property is the first we’ve opened in partnership with the University of Sheffield, so there has been plenty of communication taking place amongst all parties to ensure the site has mutual benefits for all concerned. My own role in the process of having the property ready for check-in increased around the start of 2018, when I started to attend more meetings representing Unite with the University, Building Company and Project teams on-site. I was largely responsible for the set-up and operation of the on-site ‘show flat’, which was extremely challenging as it coincided with some very difficult conditions caused by the harsh winter, and the mobilisation of the site team once we had the go- ahead to occupy.
Tell us about some of the amenities that St Vincent’s has to offer, what’s the USP?
Without a doubt the USP of St Vincent’s Place is the renovated church that is the focal point of the property. The church space has been converted into a huge common room for the students, complete with study spaces, leisure & gaming areas and a cinema room. We have also fitted a mezzanine level which has additional study & relaxation space, including acoustically fitted rooms that allow students to practice music without disturbing others.
As part of our new partnership with The University of Sheffield we have a nomination agreement in place for the majority of the 598 bedrooms. In this first year the University have placed students from USIC (University of Sheffield International College) with us, who are mainly aged under 18 and an extremely long way from home, so our sole intention is to provide them with a safe and secure home allowing them to fully concentrate on their studies.
Is there any aspect of the development or the process you’ve been involved in that you’re particularly proud of?
Aside from the pride I took in overcoming the challenges of operating a ‘show flat’ on a building site, I don’t think there is one specific aspect I’ve been proud of more than any other. I have however been immensely proud of the work my colleagues have done in mobilising the building ready for occupancy in a very short window of time. It was a pleasure to be involved in.
You’ve been with Unite for about 18 months now, coming from outside the Student Accommodation sector, how has that transition been for you?
It’s been incredibly interesting and a lot more varied than I anticipated. Having never worked in the sector I had no idea just how much goes into the successful operation of purpose built student accommodation, and what I probably love most about the job is every day brings something different. I’ve worked in both the Public and Private Sectors in many different industries, but my current role brings me some of the strongest feelings of job satisfaction I’ve had in a long time, and I put a lot of that down to the people I work with in the city whose passion and enthusiasm for our students is infectious. For more information contact Matthew.Parkin@unitestudents.com