United Utilities chief operating officer gives guest lesson at Preston school

Pupils at a Preston school were treated to a careers lesson with a difference in March from United Utilities’ chief operating officer, Steve Fraser and employee brand manager, Lynn Johnson.

Steve took time out of his busy schedule to talk to pupils at Moor Park High School and Sixth Form about the company he works for and the route he took to get to where he is now.

In a lesson described by students as ‘awesome’, Steve described how he started his career as a site manager at Preston-based engineering firm Ryan & Sons, rising to a director at construction and utility services company, Bethell, before joining United Utilities and progressing from energy and contract solutions managing director to his current role as chief operating officer.

Steve, who was born in Scotland, went to Broughton High School in Preston and The University of Central Lancashire. He talked to the 30-strong class of high performing year 10, 11 and 12 students about the career opportunities at United Utilities and the different routes into work. Steve said he took the higher education route but that many of his friends chose apprenticeships instead and that United Utilities offers a popular apprenticeship scheme which is currently open for applications on our website.

Steve said: “Today, we’ve spoken in detail about how you can get onto the career ladder. It’s not complicated, it’s about getting the basics – the transferable skills – right.”

Lynn supported Steve on the day and during the interactive exercise he ran on the theme of standing out from the crowd. She also told the class about the early careers opportunities for graduates and apprentices at United Utilities.

Anne King, Assistant Head Teacher and Head of Sixth Form at Moor Park High School and Sixth Form, said: “The kids thought it was an awesome experience, and some are definitely excited about applying for apprenticeships with United Utilities. It’s really planted the seed about what they might want to do in the future.”

The visit was made possible by a partnership between United Utilities and education charity Teach First. The charity has been working since 2003 to recruit and train great teachers to work in low-income communities. Recruiting more Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) teachers to address the skills shortage, champion those subjects and educate their pupils on the opportunities available in the sector is a key priority for Teach First.

Colin Ferguson, Teach First Local Director for the North West, said: “It’s great to see local businesses connect with schools in this way. We would encourage more organisations to spend time in schools to educate young people on careers available to them. Thank you to Steve for taking time out of his schedule and for United Utilities for its support of Teach First.”

Moor Park High School in Preston, Lancashire is a mixed school with 569 pupils aged between 11 and 18 years.