How George Frost progressed from business administration apprentice to reactive supervisor at Kier.
Interviewer: Amelia Muldowney
Since joining Kier as a business administration apprentice in 2019, George Frost has progressed to become a reactive supervisor within our Transportation business, picking up new skills and expanding his knowledge along the way.
Our employer brand specialist, Amelia Muldowney met with George to find out more about his apprenticeship, how Kier has supported his career journey and the advice he has for others who are kickstarting their careers.
Something I’ve noticed in my time at Kier is the value it places on its apprentices. It’s not just the opportunities provided, but touches like apprentices’ contracts, where all join as permanent colleagues from day one (which isn’t the case for all companies), the commitment to ensuring everyone feels able to belong, contribute and thrive is clear.
I was keen to learn more from an apprentice who has gone on to progress within the business, which lead me to meet George Frost. We had a fantastic chat and had lots of similarities in our career journeys, despite being in completely different fields of work.
Now, as a supervisor, George manages a team of eight people, looking after the reactive side of a highways maintenance team. Reactive means being able to actively respond to our clients’ requests which can vary from potholes, damaged drain covers and repairs to kerbs. Plus, seasonal work such as dealing with major flood events, providing resources and equipment and the winter gritting service, all keeping the highway network safe for everyone 24/7, 365 days a year.
“My job is to programme the work that comes through to us. I need to schedule it, organise who will carry out the works and what we will need to do or have when we arrive at the location and manage any immediate safety concerns,” George explains. “Each morning I give my team daily briefings, explaining the work that’s ahead of them and ensure they’re comfortable with the tasks and we talk through the safety procedures they need to follow,” he adds. “At Kier, the health, safety and wellbeing of our people alongside our projects and communities is our highest priority and so it’s really important we discuss this everyday as a team.”
Due to the reactive nature of the work, George’s typical day can vary, with some busier than others. “The weather and time of year plays a huge role in how busy we are, if extreme weather is predicted we can prepare for an increase in jobs like flooding events and the winter gritting service, but things can come out of the blue, which is more of a challenge to manage, but we do it well,” he explains.
Like many of us, George didn’t know what he wanted to be when he left school but was influenced by his experience working with his dad’s construction business when deciding to pursue a career at Kier. “I was just looking on a job board one day and found a business administration apprenticeship which looked interesting,” says George. “It was local, and I knew a bit about the industry because of my dad, so I decided to apply. I was successful at interview and my first day was a few weeks later!” he adds.
“I was nervous going straight from college into a ‘proper’ job, but everyone was welcoming and keen to involve me,” George shares. When he joined Kier, George was supporting the team with general duties, working towards his Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship. During his apprenticeship, George spent time in many areas of the business getting to know how a site operates before choosing to focus on site supervision. George was mentored by two supervisors who showed him the ropes on all elements such as street lighting, contract compliance, fleet management. “Probably 90% of what I learnt about a site came from the supervisors, they’d take me out on site, mentoring me on all aspects, from the general health and safety of a site to the specifics such as checking the correct temperatures of the tarmac were suitable to work with and that was the experience I needed to support me into my role now – the areas of the business to learn from were endless!” he says.
Both George and I started our careers as apprentices, choosing not to go to university, so I understood the pressures he would’ve faced at the time he made his decision. “Do you ever feel like you’ve missed out because you didn’t go to uni?” I asked. “Not really! I wasn’t interested in the academic side, and a lot of my mates went which meant I was still able to visit them and experience the social side too,” he says. “Plus, I was able to earn a steady income, three or four years before they could,” George adds.
To become a supervisor, George needed to gain qualifications to supervise an active site, studies which Kier supported him in. “As soon as I expressed my interest to my manager, they put the work in motion for me to complete my Site Safety Supervisors Training Scheme which was great and allowed me the opportunity to run my own sites,” George explained.
About 18 months ago, George decided to move into a role at another company, but later had a change of heart. “I ended up calling my line manager at Kier and luckily, she was happy to have me back!” George laughed. “It just goes to show how important it is when you do leave a company, to leave on good terms if you can as you never know when you might need them again,” he adds.
“It was good to see that the grass isn’t always greener actually, I soon realised the opportunities and support I have at Kier, and that there are always new and exciting challenges which I can get my teeth stuck into.” George reflects.
Next in his career, George is hoping to progress to become a delivery manager, which would see him take more responsibility for things such as budgets, future planning, and risk management. “I think I have all the main skills needed to progress, but the hardest most important one I know I need to work on is the people management side of things. I’ve started another apprenticeship at Kier called the First Line Management Apprenticeship, which will support me in becoming an effective people manager,” George explains.
I always like to finish off these interviews by asking for some words of wisdom from my interviewee, and for George, it was important for him to share advice to those leaving school unsure what to do next. “You’ve got to ask questions! The only way I could find out how to progress was by asking ‘why?’ to widen my understanding of the industry and the work we’re doing,” George advises. “Take on board what people with more experience are telling you but don’t be afraid to challenge it,” he adds.
If you’re interested in an apprenticeship at Kier, find out more about how they work and how to apply.