Stephen Harrington

Stephen is our group Commercial Director and heads up the commercial side of AI Software. His role is to oversee the commercial function of Unity to ensure business growth & profitability. He also supports our commercial directors with commercial strategy, planning, initiatives and results. He works on customer projects around systems & software development – from initial consultations through to onboarding to ensure our customer projects are defined and understood by our in-house development team. Stephen also manages the Unity brand and the marketing team. Stephen also supports with the building of key operational & business processes that Unity operates.

Spotlight Questions

What is your favourite word?

I’m not sure I have a favourite word but I’ve recently noticed I say “right” and “OK” a lot though.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I’d have loved to have been a professional athlete, a footballer or cricketer ideally. Unfortunately, I lack the natural talent for that! Failing that I’d like to have done something creative yet challenging…. something like an architect or an author.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

As long as it’s not “What are you doing here? There’s been a mistake” I’ll be happy.

Tell me about your background and how you came to this role.

I am a graduate of Teesside University where I studied Marketing. I worked for an engineering company for 3 years before joining what was called Qnet, this evolved into Agile & now Unity over the years. I’ve worked here for over 18 years now where I’ve had a lot of different roles. I started off as a marketing coordinator and have had roles in logistics, finance, systems development, operations and commercial. So I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none! My current role is head of commercial for our Software division Unity AI and I’m also the assistant head of commercial for the Group where I am one of the leadership team.

Are there any upcoming projects that you are excited about?

We are looking to take the business to the next level and as part of that process we want to have defined systems & processes mapped and developed so we can work to best practice.

 We are also working on our marketing strategy and plans for that which I really want us to have in place too. We all have defined goals that we want to achieve to help drive the business forwards.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I would probably say building a quality management system that achieved ISO9001 certification, there was a lot of research, learning new things, documenting good practice and getting buy in from the whole team.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 items would you take with you and why?

Assuming I’m not allowed a boat. I’d say a flint, a knife and either a filter or tablets to purify water. Sorry for the boring and practical answer.

If you had the ability to change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

I should probably wish for world peace or something altruistic & grandiose like that but I’m going to go for Boro winning the premier league & champions league failing that, I’ll have a couple of extra zeros on the end of my bank balance.

What helpful resources do you rely on in your job role?

Task lists, I’m often spinning a lot of plates and I have a bad memory so can forget about stuff if I don’t have a list to track them.

Share an interesting or lesser-known fact about yourself that people would find surprising or amusing.

Not really about me but I’m always blown away by the life my grandad led, he could read & write music, spoke 4 languages, once successfully defended himself in court (a car insurance issue – nothing criminal) and once he turned down the opportunity to tour with Shirley Bassey because he thought … in his words “she didn’t have a good enough voice to make it.”

Tell us a useless fact.

Your nose is always visible to you – your brain hides it from your view unless you think about it and focus on it. It’s called unconscious selective attention. It’s really weird and I guarantee you will be now trying to look at your nose!

What are your goals for the next year or so?

Professionally – I want to help the business grow, win new customers, bring our technical team more exciting projects to work on and to make inroads on developing & evolving our commercial systems. Personally – I want to spend more of my time doing things I enjoy instead of the things I feel I have to do.

What is one thing you wish people knew about your job?

That I find it very tough to do. I’m a very introverted person by nature and my role demands that a lot of the time I have to be the opposite of that. I find going to things like networking events and exhibitions nerve wracking and quite stressful and they make me feel tired once they are over.

What is your favourite saying?

I always liked a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln’s “it is better to remain silent and be thought of a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”