Our board is made up of two executive directors and seven non-executive directors and shares a strong mix of skills and experience.

The members

Phil White, Chairman

Phil White, Chairman

Phil has served as Chairman since May 2009. He was Chief Executive of National Express Group plc from 1997 to 2006 and led the business through growth in the UK and overseas. He gained extensive executive experience in the public transport sector during the period of deregulation and privatisation. He is non-executive chair of Lookers plc as well as non-executive director of VP plc.

Richard Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Richard Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Richard became CEO in June 2016 after working as Unite's managing director of operations since 2011 and joining the business as deputy chief financial officer in 2010. Prior to Unite, Richard worked in the transport industry in the UK, Europe, North America and Australia, including 13 years at National Express Group.

Joe Lister, Chief Financial Officer

Joe Lister, Chief Financial Officer

Joe joined Unite in 2002 and was appointed chief financial officer in 2008 having held roles including investment director. Joe is now also a non-executive director for Helical PLC. Prior to joining Unite, Joe qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Professor Sir Tim Wilson, Non-executive Director

Professor Sir Tim Wilson, Non-executive Director

Sir Tim is widely recognised as one of the leading thinkers in the field of collaboration between academic institutions and industry. He is the author of the government-commissioned Wilson Review 2012. He has extensive experience in UK higher education including vice chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, deputy chair of the CBI innovation, science and technology committee, trustee of the Council for Industry and Higher Education and serving on the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England. He was appointed to the Unite board in 2010.

Elizabeth McMeikan, Senior Independent Director

Elizabeth McMeikan, Senior Independent Director

Elizabeth brings extensive experience from customer-focused businesses, including Tesco and Colgate Palmolive. She is a non-executive director at Dalata Hotel Group Plc, Fresca Group Ltd, an import/export fruit and vegetable company, and a director of Second Growth Community Investment Company. She is also a non-executive director at McBride plc. Previously she was a non-executive director of JD Weatherspoon plc, the chair of Moat Homes Ltd, a leading housing association in the South East, and CH & Co Ltd, a privately-owned catering company. She joined Unite in 2014.

Ross Paterson, Audit Committee Chair

Ross Paterson, Audit Committee Chair

Ross was appointed as Audit Committee Chair in February, 2018, after being appointed as Non-Executive Director of the board in September, 2017. He is Finance Director of Stagecoach Group plc, and as a member of Stagecoach’s board is responsible for finance, technology and compliance. In addition, he is a non-executive director and Audit Committee Chair of Virgin Rail Group Holdings Limited, and a member of the Business Policy Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

Richard Akers, Non-executive Director

Richard Akers

Richard joined Unite on 1st September 2018, as a Non-Executive Director. From 1995 to 2014 Richard worked at Land Securities plc, where he had various positions including as an Executive Director on the main board and Managing Director of Retail. Richard has over 30 years’ experience in the real estate industry, with a focus on retail. He is currently Senior Independent Director and Chair of the Health & Safety and Remuneration Committees at Barratt Developments Plc, a Non-Executive Director at Shaftesbury Plc and an Advisory Board Member at Battersea Power Station Development Company. Previously Richard was a Non-Executive Director at Emaar Malls PJSC.

Ilaria del Beato, Non-executive Director

Ilaria del Beato

Ilaria joined Unite on 1st December 2018 as a Non-Executive Director. She is currently CEO of Frasers Property UK, part of Frasers Property, a global real estate group. Ilaria was formerly CEO of GE Capital UK, a regulated Bank and corporate lender and led GE Capital Real Estate UK, a commercial real estate investor, developer and lender. Ilaria brings 30 years of experience in real estate, including asset management, investment and lending.

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE, Non-executive Director

Dame Shirley Pearce

Dame Shirley joined Unite on 1st November 2019 as a Non-Executive Director. She has held Chair, Senior Executive and Non-Executive roles at board level in higher education, health and policing. She was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as the Independent Reviewer of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) and is a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, a member of the Advisory Board of HCA Healthcare UK and, until 31 December 2019, Chair of Court at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Dame Shirley was also Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University from 2006-2012. She was appointed CBE in 2005 for services to education in the NHS and in 2014 appointed DBE for services to Higher Education.