We joined Project Coordinator Kate Nelson for a chat about her career so far, The Cocoa Works - the sensitive refurbishment of York’s historic Rowntree Factory and her passion for interior design. Originally from Poland, settling in the UK as a teenager, Kate now lives in York with her family.
Tell us about your role at Henry Boot Construction.
I’m currently a Project Coordinator at The Cocoa Works, which is the conversion of the former Rowntree factory into 279 luxury apartments.
I joined Henry Boot Construction back in March, I was actually working as a cleaner before then. I used to clean the cabins at The Cocoa Works, and when I saw how busy all of the project team were, I always joked that they needed an extra pair of hands. Then the Project Coordinator role became available shortly afterwards and I decided to apply, and I got it!
My typical day involves looking after the teams on site in any way I can, I also work closely with our subcontractors, as well as carrying out inductions, managing documents, printing, and laminating. I also do the orders and manage the drawings by putting them into submittals to be approved. I like to think I do a bit of everything to keep the project moving.
Are you enjoying working on a historic site with great significance to the people of York?
Working at The Cocoa Works is fascinating. I used to be Housekeeping Manager at Hampton by Hilton in York, and I’d drive past this site every day. I didn’t really know what it was, but now I understand how important the site is in York’s history.
Our team keeps finding things on site like old packets of cigarettes which tell the story of the past. It is great to be playing a part in creating new history for the area.
How would you like your career to progress?
I’ve had a very interesting career, but I really never saw myself working on a construction site. But one thing led to another and it is funny how things turn out, I am really pleased to be here.
I’m happy to be working for a large company which values its employees and gives people the opportunity to develop and learn. I love learning and I’d like to progress within the company. I always tell my kids to push themselves and I’m the same! I like the idea of developing my career in a company like Henry Boot and I’m excited to see what the future holds. There are a lot of options available, and I’m supported by some really good people at The Cocoa Works.
How do you relax away from work?
I’m really interested in restoring furniture and woodwork and I’m passionate about interior design. It’s brilliant to be working on such a prominent residential project. I get to see lots of drawings and visuals and the apartments look amazing. They come with landscaped gardens and communal spaces, and they beautifully blend historic design features and contemporary living. There is also a sixth-floor roof extension that’s going to give fantastic views of the city. Sometimes, when I’m sorting paperwork out in our office I stop and stare at the CGIs and drawings. I’m fascinated at how the interiors have been designed.
I was involved in lots of different organisations in Poland and I like helping people. I’m enjoying working with colleagues from all different backgrounds and getting to know Henry Boot in more detail.
But every day is different, I grew up in Poland and throughout my life I’d never really imagined working on a construction site. But it is great and I’m getting to learn a lot of new skills.
Kate Nelson, Project Coordinator