Apprentice Success Story – Lee Hartley

  11 February, 2022      CareersIndustry Insights
Apprentice Success Story – Lee Hartley

This week is National Apprenticeship Week in the UK and we are celebrating the success of our Executive Director, Lee Hartley.

Tell us about your career to date

Before starting my career in the construction industry, I always wanted to be a firefighter. It was while I was going through the recruitment process for this, that I began working on construction sites as a labourer. During this time, my interest for the wider industry grew, and instead, I decided to try and develop a career within the construction sector.

Not really knowing what this career would look like at the time, I initially considered going down the trade route. However, I did some additional research into industry roles, and Quantity Surveyor caught my attention. I was offered various trade apprenticeship routes with my current employer at the time, but I also applied for a Trainee Quantity Surveyor role with J&S Seddon (Building) Ltd – now Novus.

My application with J&S Seddon was successful, and so I decided to take this role over the trade options offered to me. I started with the company 25 years ago, in April 1997. Initially, my typical week involved a lot of administration work, site measures and processing subcontractor accounts. While these may be considered as more basic tasks, they gave me exposure into a whole range of aspects in construction management, which were valuable in building my overall industry knowledge. When things were quiet, I was given a building measurement text book to read and complete tasks on… so I never had nothing to do!

As time went on and my skills were developed, I gradually took on more ownership of projects and tasks until I was running my own contracts in full. Since then, I’ve progressed throughout the company as follows:

Trainee Quantity Surveyor > Assistant Quantity Surveyor > Quantity Surveyor > Senior Quantity Surveyor > Managing Quantity Surveyor > Commercial Audit Manager > Commercial Director > Operations Director > Executive Director

What qualifications have you accrued and how has the business supported your development?

Over my career to date, I’ve completed a number of key qualifications including:

  • ONC Building Studies – Distinction
  • HNC Building Studies – Distinction
  • Bsc Hons in Quantity Surveying – First Class Honours
  • ILM Leadership & Management – Level 7
  • Nebosh – Health & Safety Management for Construction
  • IOSH – Safety for Directors

On top of these, I’ve also done various mandatory and job-related training courses such as Asbestos Awareness, Mental Health Awareness and more.

All of these qualifications were funded by the business, and I was also given the time to complete my training at college and university through day release programmes.


What have been your biggest achievements?

On a personal level, I’m really proud of my first-class honours degree which has helped to shape my career. I’m also extremely proud of my career progression, with a particular highlight being appointed as Executive Director.

From a business perspective, achievements have come in different forms from winning contracts, to successfully delivering challenging projects. In particular though, it is a flood restoration contract that stands out to me. This was an extremely challenging project to deliver in a difficult environment, but to see how we transformed people’s homes from a point of devastation to habitable properties in a short period of time was extremely rewarding. Importantly, while the contract was hard work to deliver and required a lot of commitment and perseverance, it also performed well commercially which was important in my role.

To help lead and be a part of the business’ growth over the years is also very rewarding, and I’m proud of the role I’ve played in helping colleagues build their careers.


Why are apprentices valuable to our business?

Apprentices are the future of our business. It’s a cliché, but our people are the business’ biggest asset. Without us having the right people with the right skills to deliver our services, we have no business. At Novus, we want to do our part in training the next generation and build up our own colleagues. This has been a big part of our success over the years.

Of course, it doesn’t stop with apprenticeships though! We want our apprentices to develop their careers beyond their initial apprenticeships and we support colleagues at all levels of the business.


What advice you would offer to an apprentice starting their career?

One of my key pieces of advice is to ask questions and be inquisitive – this is how you’ll learn and develop the most!

At Novus, we have a very strong team ethos. Staying close to your peers and the wider team is vital and ensures that everyone is supported throughout their careers.

Of course, sometimes a job can be hard and not every day is straight sailing…but work hard and persevere, and you’ll come out the other side stronger and more knowledgeable than you were before.

Always look to expand on what you know. Don’t just rely on the knowledge you’re taught in a classroom or you learn from others; self-learn and do research to support your progression.

Finally – and most importantly – enjoy it! You are at work for a big proportion of your life and it’s so important to enjoy what you do.


National Apprenticeship Week

Between 7th-13th February we’ve be celebrating all-things apprenticeships and posting special content that will hopefully inspire young people to take up a place on the Novus apprenticeship scheme. Take a look at some of our blogs below!

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