Chief Executive - Unipol

Chief Executive


Executive Summary

Unipol is seeking to appoint its next Chief Executive. This is a hugely influential and important role for the UK stu - dent accommodation sector. Unipol is a unique student housing charity. Established 50 years ago, Unipol is passionate about helping stu - dents find the best housing. We have a national profile, trusted expertise, and a reputation as a leading voice in the sector for best practice and innovation. Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the Chief Executive of Unipol has the key leadership role in the charity and oversees the running and development of the whole or - ganisation. The Chief Executive has a vital role in framing the culture of the organisation and motivating staff and partners to deliver on the charity’s aspirations including: student support and assistance, student housing provi - sion, industry standards and best practice.

1. Executive Summary 2. About Unipol 3. The Role 4. Further Information 5. Application Process

About Unipol

Unipol is a housing charity established in 1973 by the University of Leeds and the then Polytechnic in Leeds in co-operation with their Students’ Unions. In 1997, Unipol became an incorporated Charita - ble Company with a Board structure. We provide help and assistance to students rent - ing in the private sector, provide direct housing to students in Leeds, Nottingham and Bradford, run a number of accreditation schemes, provide national and local training and promote best practice in student housing. Unipol has a turnover forecast of £22.6m (2023-2024) with 81 dedi - cated staff members. The work we do shapes the UK student housing sector – and with nearly 700,000 student accommodation bedspaces in operation across the UK our role is hugely signifi - cant. We house just over 3,000 students on a not for profit basis and our housing stock caters to the diversity of the student population. We offer the

best deal we can to our tenants; there are no fees or hidden charges, nor do we ask adult students to be backed by a guarantor. Our housing reve - nue enables us to subsidise housing for students with dependents (normally families), maintain a range of low-cost accommodation, support investment in high-quality properties and helps subsidise our advice and accreditation mission. We continue to invest in sustainability with better infrastructure and more information for our tenants on energy usage and carbon footprint reduction. We use local traders where possible to provide our service and improve our buildings. We aim to give our tenants a great housing expe - rience, providing good value, promoting social academic interaction and high-quality housing - we want a Unipol property to be a home from home.

Our Values

To be impartial experts giving student consumers information and ad - vice, based on 40 years’ experience in the sector, which empowers them to make good housing choices and get the best deal available. We establish, promote, publicise best practice in stu - dent accommodation.

To provide value for money providing a first class service to our users which uses the latest technology to allow on-line glob - al accessibility; we recognise the importance of meeting differing students’ needs and providing value for money and choice throughout the hous - ing process. To be ethical valuing our human resources, investing in training and sector expertise and ensuring we pay our employees the living wage. We provide informa - tion for our tenants on how to use less energy in a comfortable living environment and use local suppliers and trades wherever possible.

The Forward Look 2023 - 2026

To promote safety & wellbeing

setting and checking standards to make student accommodation as safe and secure as possible, to give peace of mind to all concerned and pro - viding a good quality living environment that is so important in the learning process.

Work towards a goal of carbon neutrality

To be transparent & accountable being answerable, as a charity to our Board of Trustees and to our users we make our agenda and operations as clear and open as we can.

To promote community

To be trusted as a source of help and advice to both students and landlords who want to rent and provide good quality student accom - modation that contributes to a great student experience.

whilst we promote individuality we encourage positive attitudes to equality, cultural diversity and the internationalism inherent in undertaking study in higher education.

The Role

student bed spaces.

General Information

• Unipol runs three ‘Housing Hubs’ providing a forum in which owners (including Unipol) can advertise their properties. Although owners are asked to pay a fee for Unipol's services, the ‘Housing Hubs’ are partially funded by the institutions listed above. Unipol's web - sites centralise many private sector vacan - cies, and are a major source of information and advice for students, receiving around 100 million hits a year. • Through their training arm, ‘Unipol Train - ing’, Unipol is a leading national trainer in the niche market of student accommoda - tion, running a full annual programme. The training arm also undertakes some bespoke in-house training and a number of briefings for different constituencies. Unipol has in- house training facilities in both Nottingham and Leeds. Unipol is currently following their ‘Forward Look (2023-2026)’ approach, which is designed to maintain its financial stability, to take up the opportunities it has, grow and widen its impact in its portfolio areas and exert greater influence in the formation of student housing policies and standards. A copy of this can be found here.

Unipol is a housing charity established in 1973 by the University of Leeds and the then Polytechnic in Leeds in co-operation with their Students’ Unions. In 1997, Unipol became an incorporated charitable company with a board structure.

Unipol fulfils four distinct, but connected, roles:

• Unipol has its own ‘Housing Section’ which develops, takes into ownership and man - ages refurbished properties and lets them directly to students. Unipol is currently re - sponsible for housing around 3,000 stu - dents (including over 210 student families) with 2,250 located in Leeds, 645 students in Nottingham and 59 students in Bradford. • Unipol runs a number of successful voluntary accreditation schemes for owners letting to students, covering 79% of student hous - ing in Leeds, 65% in Nottingham and 99% in Bradford. These schemes are designed to improve and maintain property and management standards. In Leeds, Unipol runs the Leeds Rental Standard for the City Council, and in Nottingham, Unipol and DASH (Decent and Safe Homes) jointly run the Nottingham Standard. Unipol also has a stake in two government approved codes of practice dealing with larger student de - velopments in the United Kingdom. Unipol currently accredits an estimated 392,000

Unipol is Organised into Six Operational Areas:

3. Nottingham Housing Service In Nottingham the housing service is overseen by a Nottingham Housing Team Leader, with a Senior Housing Management Officer supported by a Housing Management Officer, two part- time Housing Hub Assistants and four Residents’ Assistants. 4. Communications and Technical Services The organisation has a Communications and Technical Services arm that is led by the Assis - tant Chief Executive (Communications and IT). Marketing and communications, in respect of brand, lettings, outreach and Residence Life, falls within this team and is undertaken by the Marketing and Engagement Coordinator, the User Experience Marketing Coordinator and the Student User Experience Coordinator together with a part-time Design Officer. The IT team is overseen by an IT Manager with an Applications Developer and a Senior IT Of - ficer to ensure that the organisation maintains its high-quality IT and web services.

5. The Standards Team is headed by the Assistant Chief Executive (Standards) who oversees all accreditation and tribunal systems. This team consists of the National Codes Administrator, the National Codes Coordinator, the Unipol Codes Adminis - trator and the Complaints and Code Investiga - tor. The conferences and training arm also fits within this area. 6. The Finance Team is headed by the Director of Finance and consists of a Finance Manager, an Assistant Finance Manager, two Senior Finance Officers, a Utilities Officer, a Utilities and Sustainability Coordinator, a Rent Collection Officer, two Finance Assistants and one part-time Finance Clerk, supplemented by consultants for project work from time to time.

The Housing team is overseen by the Assistant Chief Executive (Housing) and consists of the Housing Manager (Logistics and Compliance) and the Housing Manager (Operations). In Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham, day-to-day housing management is carried out by three housing management teams, two of which have an assistant to assist them in administra - tive matters supported by a number of other housing management staff. Within the Leeds and Bradford housing opera - tion, there are two Team Leaders, three Senior Housing Management Officers, two Housing Management Officers, a Maintenance Assistant and the teams are supplemented by Residents’ Assistants (currently 18), a part-time Lettings Assistant, a part-time Housing Management Assistant and a number of part-time Housing Assistants over the summer (normally seven who are overseen by one of the Team Leaders) and throughout the year.

1. The Senior Management Team consists of the Chief Executive, the Deputy Chief Executive, the Director of Finance, the Assistant Chief Executive (Standards and Company Sec - retary), the Assistant Chief Executive (Commu - nications and IT), the Assistant Chief Executive (Housing), the Assistant Chief Executive (Hub Services) and the Assistant Chief Executive (De - velopment). Two Tenancy Support and Wellbeing Officers, whose responsibilities are cross-organisation, report directly to the Deputy Chief Executive. The Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive are supported by the Office Administrator. 2. Housing Services and the Housing Hub is an integrated service and the staff teams operate together. Certain Housing Hub opera - tions are overseen by the Assistant Chief Exec - utive (Hub Services) and they are assisted by a number of Housing Hub Assistants and a Hous - ing Hub Advisor.

About this Post • The Chief Executive of Unipol has the key lead - ership role in the charity and oversees the running and development of the whole or - ganisation. This includes certain legal respon - sibilities under both company and charity law and the ‘Articles of Association’ which governs the charity. The Chief Executive has a vital role in framing the culture of the organisation and motivating staff and partners to deliver on the charity’s aspirations. • The Chief Executive is responsible to trustees (and specifically to the Chair of the Board) for the overall management of the charity, helps trustees to establish and regularly review the strategic development direction of the charity and leads the delivery of that vision. A close working relationship with the Chair of the Board is an important aspect of the post, as are close relationships with the three Deputy Chairs. • The Chief Executive is responsible for maintain - ing accountability to the trustees in policy and development matters, and for operating and delivering the organisation’s services within the charity’s core values (as described on page 5) and transparency and accountability to service users. • The Chief Executive will lead a programme designed to address issues of climate change and carbon reduction, enhancing environ - mental sustainability in Unipol’s offices, in its procurement practices and within its portfolio.

Terms and Conditions • The Chief Executive’s salary, which is reviewed every third year by trustees, is paid on the University of Leeds’ professorial scale zone 3 (range £107,208 - £130,311) https://hr.leeds. All those working in Unipol are jointly employed by Unipol Student Homes and the University of Leeds and are employed on University of Leeds terms and conditions. • The post holder is required to attend some evening meetings and, at certain times of the year, to work at unsocial or outside of office hours, including certain weekends and bank holidays (as are all Unipol staff). At certain defined times of the year, they will also be required to be on call during unsocial or outside of office hours, if emergencies arise. The Chief Executive must have a valid driving licence and be willing to drive in the course of their busi - ness. • Unipol, the University of Leeds, and the other universities and organisations are multi-cultural communities, which value diversity. The Chief Executive is expected to treat all individuals fair - ly, with dignity and respect and to contribute to creating a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for all. The Chief Executive is also responsible for ensuring that all staff work in a non-discriminatory manner and the Codes of Practice agreed by the Board are properly operated. • The Chief Executive post is based at Unipol’s offices on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds.

Specific Duties of the Post:

Senior Management Team and Staffing The Chief Executive leads and inspires the Senior Management Team who, in turn, have overarching responsibilities for their own teams. The Chief Executive has direct line management for three Senior Managers: the Deputy Chief Executive, the Director of Finance and the Assistant Chief Executive (Devel - opment). A close working relationship is required with the Assistant Chief Executive (Development) who, together with the Chief Executive, helps drive the development and improvement of the charity’s prop - erties. The Chief Executive delegates the oversight of business operations to The Deputy Chief Executive who leads the other Assistant Chief Executive members of the Senior Management Team: the Assistant Chief Executive (Housing), the Assistant Chief Executive Standards - in all matters excepting their role as Com - pany Secretary, the Assistant Chief Executive (Hub Services) and the Assistant Chief Executive (IT and Communications). The Deputy Chief Executive takes responsibility for the HR function across the whole organisation.

The Chief Executive works particularly closely with the Director of Finance, the Deputy Chief Executive, the Assistant Chief Executive (Development) and the Company Secretary to ensure that the charity is financially stable and viable, that operationally the charity is running well, that human resource issues and procedures are being properly ad - dressed, and that the charity’s portfolio is in good condition and is being developed to a high prod - uct level in a sustainable manner. The Chief Executive reviews all operational areas covered by the other Assistant Chief Executives from time to time giving a particular priority to good housing management, lettings and tenant satisfaction and the maintenance of health and safety; the setting of standards within accredi - tation and the use of efficient and transparent verification processes; ensuring that students and property suppliers using Unipol’s services are receiving accurate and high-quality advice and information; ensuring that communication and IT systems remain fully up-to-date, are secure and protect the organisation against unnecessary compromise and meet both the current and future needs of the organisation. The Chief Executive, working with the Senior Man - agement Team and the Deputy Chief Executive, determines the overall staffing load of the organ - isation as it changes and develops and is also

The Chief Executive has the responsibility for recommending to the Board future development options for the organisation and shall maintain a balance of activities, as determined by trustees, between the different areas of Unipol’s operations and shall ensure that budgeting and expenditure are clearly defined and reported to the Board as falling within the specified areas of operation. Portfolio Development The Chief Executive has overall responsibility for maintaining and developing Unipol’s own prop - erty portfolio (comprising of any property owned, leased, licenced by or rented by Unipol). In respect of development, the Chief Executive shall recommend to the Board the purchasing, leasing or managing of properties and their financial re - quirements and implications for the charity (as - sisted by the Director of Finance). In making these recommendations, the Chief Executive will ensure that a business plan is presented showing the sus - tainability of any proposal and that the risks to the charity are explained to trustees before significant developments are initiated. The Chief Executive shall have first line responsibil - ity for negotiating the terms of all licences, leases, purchase and rental agreements relating to prop - erties entering the Unipol portfolio.

responsible for the staffing relationship with the University of Leeds through the Staffing Protocol and Service Specification. The Chief Executive is responsible for dealing with all complaints concerning staff conduct in line with the complaints procedure between the Board and the University of Leeds. Complaints, where the Chief Executive has been involved, are dealt with by the Chair of the Board. Development and ‘The Forward Look’ Unipol reviews its operations and development on a three yearly basis resulting in the production of a key strategic document entitled ‘The Forward Look’ which outlines the charity’s values, its con - tinued public benefit, the scope of its services and summarises the framework within which those services should develop over the next three years. The Chief Executive will ensure that proper pro - cesses are put in place for this review, to include key partners and organisations, and that trustees are provided with information and possible de - velopment options to allow them to undertake informed discussion and consideration when they decide the key strategic aims of the charity. The Chief Executive is responsible for translating these aims into reality and, where that is not possible, for either providing alternative aims or explaining why such aims cannot be met.

The Chief Executive shall ensure that all of Unipol’s properties are let fairly to students and that poten - tial tenants have their liabilities and rights ex - plained to them before entering into any of those commitments. In respect of maintaining the property portfolio, the Chief Executive will periodically review aspects of the portfolio to ensure that it continues to offer high-quality accommodation to its student tenants and that the portfolio is being properly managed in line with legal and regulatory requirements. Where regulatory compliance is not possible, or has been breached, this will immediately be reported to the Board. Legal Responsibilities The charity relies upon informed legal advice from a number of selected specialist advisors. The Chief Executive will manage and oversee these legal relationships and ensure that advice is sought to address issues of liability and commitment and that the advice received is reflected in operation - al and legal processes within the charity and in respect to external obligations. All purchases and leasing of properties (within the limits set by the Board from time to time) will be confirmed by nominated members of the Board signing legal documents and the Chief Executive will ensure that they are fully informed of the obli -

gations they are taking on.

works closely with the Director of Finance who oversees Unipol’s finances, ensuring the accuracy and integrity of Unipol’s accounting records and financial systems. The Chief Executive recommends to the Board, from time to time, lines of accountability and responsibility in respect of payments made by Unipol and, in particular, who should be cheque signatories and the extent of authorisation by such signatories. Risk Management The Chief Executive is responsible for the risk management of the charity, ensuring that all pro - cedures, protocols and strategies are fully imple - mented to protect the charity and its assets. Governance The Company Secretary oversees the operational governance of the charity and fulfils this role, sub - ject to the provisions of the Companies Acts 1985, 1989 and 2006, and all duties therein in respect of the Company, Unipol Student Homes and Leeds Student Homes (currently dormant). In respect of this role, the Company Secretary reports directly to Unipol’s Board on matters of governance and propriety in accordance with governance policies. The Company Secretary role is accompanied by a number of important governance responsibilities and processes including: trustee and Committee member recruitment, induction and training, the review of trustees and board effectiveness. The Chief Executive is responsible for recom - mending changes and improvements to the governance and representative system and is also responsible for subsidiary governance structures established with partner organisations (including the Government) covering specific services or functions that the charity provides. The Chief Exec - utive also has an important role in recruiting new members to Unipol’s governance structures and recommending new appointments to the Board.

The Chief Executive sits ex officio, on all of Un - ipol’s committees and groups but specifically attends the Board (where company articles stipulate attendance), the Financial Affairs and Staffing Committee and the Portfolio Commit - tee. Attendance at other bodies is at the discre - tion of the Chief Executive or the direction of the Board. The Chief Executive will meet regularly, outside of formal meetings, with the Chair of the Board to provide a general overview of operations and development and to brief the Chair before important meetings. Similar meetings are held with the three Deputy Chairs as necessary. The Chief Executive’s performance is reviewed annually in a meeting of the Review and Remu - nerations Committee which the Chief Executive attends up to the point of consideration of their performance and remuneration. The Chief Executive may sit, and is generally encouraged, to sit on other groups, committees and boards subject to the approval of the Chair of the Board. General Duties The Chief Executive shall undertake occasional additional project related duties from time to time as required by the Chair of the Board. The Chief Executive will also undertake such general duties within Unipol as from time to time may be required and shall accept periodic revisions of this job specification where transfer - able skills are utilised.

Public Representation, Liaison and Policy Unipol works closely with its partner institutions but also has a large network of other rela - tionships with housing suppliers, student and higher education policy organisations and regulators. The Chief Executive is required to make a signif - icant number of representations to local and central government on matters of education and housing policy and to respond to a num - ber of public consultations, both solicited and unsolicited. Unipol has a close relationship with a number of government departments in respect of its mission to raise standards and influence the student housing sector for the better. The charity has a wide network of communi - cations through its websites, its social media channels and its training output but the Chief Executive is at the forefront of both representing the charity and promoting its values and poli - cies to others. The Chief Executive also coordinates policy development within the area of student hous - ing commissioning advice, expert opinion and research as necessary and disseminating outcomes from this. The Chief Executive, through this work on rep - resentation, liaison and policy, is key to main - taining and enhancing the reputation of the charity as a primary trusted source of expertise nationally. Finance The Chief Executive is responsible for main - taining a proper budgetary process, ensuring that robust planning and forecasting takes place and interpreting financial outcomes so that trustees understand the charity’s financial performance and likely future prognoses and

Person Specification

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate:

Qualifications and Experience • Possession of a degree or relevant professional qualification. • Significant experience in a successful senior leadership role(s) in a public sector or private organisation of a similar size and/or com - plexity, a relevant sector such as in higher/further education, in pur - pose-built student accommodation (PBSA) operations, in housing charities or with another major (student) accommodation service provider. • Experience of leading and managing strategic and operational change affecting teams, infrastructure, and systems. • Experience of policy development. • Experience of creating a culture where colleagues are motivated and supported to achieve the organisational goals, mission, and values. • Experience of leading teams to efficiently provide excellent service and customer satisfaction, and the delivery of continuous improve - ment. • Experience of shared housing / PBSA portfolio development. • Experience of managing operational and reputational risk and planning business recovery/continuity. • Experience of working in a regulated environment is preferable.

Skills,Ability and Knowledge • Evidence of an ability to think strategically and set the strategic direction of an organisation and/or large service. • A proven ability to inspire, lead, manage, and develop an organi - sation and/or large service effectively. • A proven ability to establish and sustain both outstanding custom - er service and a high-performance management culture with an absolute commitment to Health and Safety and associated legal/ code of practice requirements. • The ability to identify strategic opportunities to develop and im - prove environmental sustainability, in terms of carbon neutrality, reduction of energy and water consumption and efficient waste management. • A good understanding of the operation of Higher and Further Ed - ucation in the UK, with relevant understanding of Education policy and Housing policy. • An understanding of Company and Charity law. • An understanding of Building Safety and Fire Safety standards and relevant legislation. • The ability to represent the organisation publicly, through excellent communication skills (verbal, written and presentational) at a stra - tegic level, for both internal and external audiences. • Strong analytical skills and an understanding of how management information systems can provide data to inform decisions. • Strong financial and commercial management skills. • Effective problem-solving skills, with the ability to resolve complex leadership and management issues. • Highly developed interpersonal skills to build contacts, negotiate, influence, network and nurture relationships effectively. • High levels of emotional intelligence, confidence, resilience, and energy. • The ability to handle intense work activity and to work effectively under pressure. • A commitment to creating an equal, diverse, and inclusive work - place and have a successful track record of developing and imple - menting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) solutions within a similar organisation.

Staff Benefits

Further Information

Core Benefits



All staff have access to a wide range of benefits, from support and advice at work to discounts on shopping and leisure. These include: • 26 days paid holiday every year, and approximately 16 days off for bank holidays and days when the Univer - sity of Leeds is closed (de - pending on how many hours you work). • Generous maternity, paterni - ty and adoption leave. • Sickness benefits increasing with your length of employ - ment. • Participation in the staff review and development scheme. • Access to a range of policies promoting work-life balance

Benefits + is a collection of optional extras that are open to all staff. The variety of staff benefits ranges from subsidised transport and meals out, to pensions and special offers on shopping. • Lifestyle + gives special deals on health, fitness and shop - ping. • Pensions + offers a more effective way of paying into your existing pension scheme. • Childcare + saves you tax on childcare costs and gives you use of the University of Leeds’ own childcare centre. • Travel + helps you get to work

Every employee of the University of Leeds has access to a gener - ous occupational pension. We have three different pen - sion schemes covering different groups of staff. To find out more about staff pensions at the University of Leeds, including retirement benefits and addi - tional voluntary contributions visit: info/41/pensions/284/pensions_ at_leeds/2. All schemes provide valuable benefits on retirement, as well as life assurance and protection for your family.

Unipol’s members are made up of five institutions: Leeds Beckett University, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University Students’ Union, Leeds University Union and Bradford College. The Board has thirteen members appointed by the five member institutions and provision for five co-opted trustees/Directors. There are four Officers of the Board: the Chair, Deputy Chair (Partner - ships), Deputy Chair (Portfolio and Treasurer). Board Meetings are held periodically (normally between four and five meetings a year) so that Directors can discharge their responsi - bility. For more information, visit

and back, and also gives some discount on personal travel.

Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre

Work-Life Balance

We aim to be a 'best practice' employer. We understand our employment policies need to be flexible and responsive to promote diversity and equality, and to attract and retain the highest quality work force. We not only fully embrace the Employment Act, which gives government regulations on paterni - ty, adoption and statutory maternity leave, but we go beyond the statutory requirements to help all staff balance the demands of work and per - sonal life. To find out more about flexible working hours, job sharing and many other schemes to help you achieve a healthy balance, vist: https:// .

The University of Leeds has its own award-win - ning childcare centre, Bright Beginnings, which provides high-quality childcare to staff members and students. The centre caters for children aged between three months and five years and provides a Play - scheme during the school holidays for children aged three to 11. To find out more about Bright Beginnings, visit: https://brightbeginningschild -

All those working in Unipol are jointly employed by Unipol Student Homes and the University of Leeds and are employed on University of Leeds terms and conditions.

For a confidential discussion please contact our retained advisors at the Management Recruitment Group. James Gregory | Senior Practise Manager 07966827391 Application Process

Ben Duffill | Managing Director 07976 125 010

Applications should consist of a comprehensive CV (of not more than 4 pages) and a covering letter (of not more than 2 pages).

Applications should be sent to and

Closing date Sunday 12th March 2023 Final interviews will take place on 25th and 26th April 2023.

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