Getting to Know Unilife: Frank and Luke (Part 1)

Hi there, Sam here. I’m a current student living with Unilife and I sat down with Frank and Luke from Unilife to get to know them a bit more. Here’s how it went!

Sam: So, why don’t we start with an introduction by the two of you?

Frank: Yeah, Frank is the name, I am the house manager and have been for two and a half years. My first official day working for Unilife was 12th of August 2015, a day very well imprinted in my brain. I still remember my first day, reporting to the offices in Broad street and then being asked to find a photographer to take a picture for the website.

Luke: Hi, I’m Luke, the property manager and I’ve been working with Unilife since 2012, so more than 5 years now. I help set up the company, and so was there from the start.

Sam: Great, why don’t you guys take us through the average day in the life of Frank and Luke?

Frank:  I’ll answer to the best that I can, a standard day usually starts around 8:30 in the morning. Normally my first point is to stop by Middle Street, do a floor check ensure all is normal. Then to liaising with Luke, Lidia, Marius and Antony, just going over the plan for the day and seeing what tasks need to be done.  Then its time to fire back emails, both from students, parents and staff. Then stop by Earlsdon and St. James to do the same. After that the afternoon is spent at Southampton, really to ensure that a presence is felt by the students as I’ve found it to be the most favourable way for students to talk to me.

Sam: Certainly, I know that I feel more comfortable to approach you guys in the lobby as it often can be dealt with there and then. It’s something I’ve always appreciated; you guys drop what you’re doing and help solve whatever issue I may be having at the time. Luke, what the day-to-day like for you?

Luke: Yeah, normally I start the day in the Old Portsmouth office for about an hour. I’m catching up with people in the office, seeing if there’s anything new. Then I head out to the buildings, sorting the mail, checking the cleaning and then carrying out our maintenance programme with Marius, our handyman. Mine and Frank’s roles overlap a bit so we do often help each other out where we can.

Sam: Is there a specific highlight of the day for you two?

Frank: Yes, there are three highlights for me.

Sam: Three!?  

Frank: Yes, first is the double espresso from the coffee machine we have in Middle Street at twenty to nine, as it gives me the caffeine and sugar boost I need to start the day. Second is lunch with the team, something I’ve come to cherish and appreciate, it kind of distracts us from the day and allows us the just chat for a bit. And lastly, on Friday evening when we go out for a celebratory pint after a successful week.

Sam: Luke, think you can top those three?  

Luke:  Yeah, those are close to my heart but in terms of work, it doesn’t happen every day, but it’s the victories for the things you’re battling for, that the residents may not always realise. Like the council collecting bins and preventing blocking the garbage disposal door; when it goes to plan it’s very rewarding.

Sam: I can certainly say I’m happy that I’m not having to fight those battles myself!

Luke: As I say, I do a lot of problem-solving and even after five years there are new problems to fix. Just a few days ago a student had bought a new WiFi camera that needed setting up on the network, it was quite cool, but setting up on our network needed a bit of work. That’s a nice victory.

Sam: Okay great, now let’s contrast that with the toughest parts of your day

Frank: Toughest parts…. Well, when things don’t go to plan that can be very disappointing, especially with what we do try to support students as much as we can. It’s always frustrating having things that are out of your control.  Because students are going through such an important time in their lives right now, whether its issues that are emotional, financial or academic. Working with students is a challenge as you can’t come across patronising or condescending like children, yet there’s a responsibility that needs to be there.

Sam: It’s reassuring that there are people to talk to at Unilife, especially as you guys aren’t that much older than us, you can relate to our issues, giving a greater level of understanding.

Frank: Thank you!

Sam: Luke, your toughest part of the day?

Luke: It’s difficult to say, there are low points, Summer is always difficult as you can plan almost a year in advance and things may still not go to plan and snowball. That said we have a great team and we can tackle them together.

Sam: Certainly, I was one of the first to move into Middle Street, and obviously with a brand-new building there were some growing pains, but I was amazed at how well Unilife handled the situation by putting the student first.

Luke: Yeah, I think it’s something that when we’re selling our product we’re not promising that nothing goes wrong, things go wrong in any accommodation, but the way in which we deal with things. We don’t ignore you, we find the solution so you’re happy, as that’s the aim.

Sam: That’s great to hear.

We’ll pick back up soon in the next blog post where we discuss parties at Unilife and why these two would want to stay here, see you soon! Sam.

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