Robert has a BSc in Building Surveying from Kingston University and currently works at Atkins. He has received his chartership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). He is also studying for further professional qualifications with the Association of Project Management (APM) and the National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC).
I completed a placement year with Atkins as part of my degree and then went back to uni to complete the final year. I received my contract to start work with Atkins, half way through that final year. This definitely helped to alleviate some of the pressure of my final exams. I consider myself to be very lucky to have been in this position, particularly when compared with the difficulties which graduates are currently experiencing in gaining employment.
As a graduate I applied to the RICS APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) process and received my chartership in 2005. In 2007 I was promoted to senior surveyor and I have recently been promoted into a commission manager role for one of our large public sector clients. My subject of study was essential in securing my current job - I could not have completed my chartership without a RICS-accredited qualification.
My typical working day varies so much, which is part of why I enjoy the work, the variety maintains my interest. Some days I may be working on bids for consultancy works for construction projects; others, I may be having detailed discussions with clients regarding the implementation of a professional services framework; or I could be on a Grade 1 listed site completing research to ensure that our designs can be shown to be sympathetic to the history and nature of the location.
I started at Atkins completing small, single discipline projects, i.e. £20,000 flat roofing jobs. I now run £5million refurbishment projects which incorporate the management of up to 20 other consultants and the requirement to achieve sustainability accreditation. The commission manager role also means that I now coordinate other project managers to deliver a programme of projects for my client.
In terms of ambition, I am interested in going further into larger scale project management while also managing a team of chartered surveyors.
I also have an interest in politics (I have been a borough councillor) and may go back into this at some stage. Unusual as it may seem, my background in construction would assist here as the chartership with the RICS is respected internationally and the skills of project management and contract administration transfer well into most industries.
I particularly enjoy dealing with people, and in this role I spend a significant amount of my time ‘out on site’ with contractors, meeting clients, planners etc. I would not enjoy a role where I was tied to a desk and where my only interaction was with a PC.
As with most industries it’s all about people so the most challenging element can be communication, which is essential to getting a range of stakeholders to buy in to the project and enabling a range of disciplines and client facilities management teams to work cohesively together. Tactful communication is important, particularly when we have to explain factors to clients which they would rather not address, but which are essential to the successful delivery of their projects.
If a student is interested in becoming a surveyor I would recommend that they check that the degree they choose is RICS accredited and once the degree is completed really work for the chartership and get it within three years - it is a fantastic platform from which to drive a career forward.
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