Strategic Leadership in Student Accommodation: Successful Placement of Head of Facilities Management and Estates at Unite Students


Unite Students, a leading provider of student accommodation in the UK, approached us to recruit a pivotal role within their organisation – the Head of Facilities Management and Estates. This role is critical to maintaining and enhancing the quality of their estate, ensuring a safe and secure environment for both students and staff, and delivering excellence across various departments, including estates, engineering, planning, and facilities.

The Head of Facilities Management and Estates was required to provide strategic leadership and effective management across all facilities and central estates functions. The responsibilities were extensive, covering maintenance, statutory compliance, cleanliness, safety, and the optimisation of building infrastructure and grounds. The role also demanded involvement in project identification and delivery, maintaining a student-centric approach, and ensuring operational excellence.

The Challenge

The recruitment process for this role was highly demanding due to the need for a candidate with a unique blend of strategic vision, operational expertise, and a strong service ethos. The ideal candidate needed to demonstrate:

• An innovative approach to facilities management.

• Extensive experience in managing large-scale estates.

• Strong leadership skills in a dynamic environment.

• Ability to work within a complex matrix organisation.

• Exceptional planning, organisational, and communication skills.

We adopted a comprehensive approach to find the ideal candidate for Unite Students:

1. Deep Understanding: We began by thoroughly understanding Unite Students' strategic goals, the specific requirements of the role, and the unique challenges it presented.

2. Targeted Search: Leveraging our extensive network and advanced search techniques, we identified candidates with the requisite experience in facilities and estates management, particularly those with a background in student accommodation or similar environments.

3. Rigorous Screening: Candidates underwent a rigorous screening process to assess their strategic thinking, operational expertise, and cultural fit with Unite Students.

4. Client Collaboration: Regular communication with Unite Students ensured alignment throughout the recruitment process. We provided detailed candidate profiles, facilitated interviews, and gathered feedback to refine the search.

The Results

After an extensive search and evaluation process, we successfully placed an exceptional candidate who met and exceeded the role's demanding criteria. The new Head of Facilities Management and Estates brought a wealth of experience, innovative thinking, and a commitment to delivering a world-class student experience.