Andrew is an Associate Director with Faithful+Gould in their London and South East Transportation team, his specialism is in the commercial management of Mechanical and Electrical Systems. In 2014 he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in recognition of several achievements, including his commitment to growing and developing the TfL Quantity Surveying Apprenticeship in Transport for London (TfL).
Following his qualification as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor from a non-cognate background, Andrew became a strong advocate for the lifelong learning and career development. He passionately supports the RICS Assessment of Professional Competency (APC) as a Supervisor, Assessor and Chairman, taking great enjoyment from seeing candidates flourish and gain well deserved professional recognition. More recently he is also a voice for the need to champion mental health, wellbeing and resilience into the workplace and has qualified as a Mental Health First Aider.
Advice to new surveyors
Various people have penned letters to their younger selves, for me I wouldn’t change the passage of my career and feel lucky to have met the individuals and challenges I have found along the way. I would however, offer the following advice which I have learnt from my time in as a Quantity Surveyor:
- Expect the unexpected – the most rewarding challenges in my career never appeared that way at first.
- Find what works for you and stick to it – some surveyors enjoy pre or post contract, corporate real estate or infrastructure. Try different aspects to a surveying career and don’t be afraid to specialise, remember if you enjoy your job you’ll never work in your life.
- Keep learning to keep earning – the demise of the quantity surveying profession has been predicted for many years. I see that measurement will increasing be automated or not required by clients. The surveying profession like any other is evolving at an increasing rate, having a lifelong learning mindset will keep you on the cutting edge.
- Network and help colleagues, the industry is quite small, and you may work with people more than once. Helping and coaching colleagues will pay dividends back to you, as you develop too.
- Work hard but play hard – find your outlet from stress and make time for it, work is a never-ending process and whilst it important to meet deadlines and output; you’ll be no use to a company or client if you’re sick. For me I like to make time in my schedule for sailing, swimming and yoga. I love to go sailing for a couple of hours or days and let life go by. Last year I spent a week around the Channel Islands in pure sunshine, one-night anchoring off the Isle of Sark jumping in the sea for an early evening swim before watching the stars come out in the dark sky – it was pure bliss for me.
Everyone I know in the job have different routines and schedules. For me I start the day listening to Radio 4’s Today programme to catch up on the latest current affairs and plug into a shameful Spotify playlist of rock anthems on the trains. I close the day out with yoga or meditation to calm my mind and let go the day’s tensions.
My journey into Surveying
The proudest moment in my life so far was receiving the email which told that I had been elected as a professional Member of the RICS and could legitimately put MRICS after my name. I have rarely found anyone else in surveying who does not share that feeling. The truth is I never planned to become a Quantity Surveyor, in fact I didn’t even know what a ‘QS’ was!
I always felt an affinity for engineering, in fact I come from a family of engineers – so that’s not really a surprise; but I knew I didn’t want to specialise in the pure technical aspect, preferring the business aspect. This took me off to study Science Communication and Policy at UCL; a degree which whilst sounding nebulous, equipped me with the abilities to understand and translate scientific and technical issues to a variety of audiences. A skill which would prepare for years of working between engineers and clients.
Within days of starting my first graduate job, I found myself at the Forum Hotel (now the Cromwell Road Holiday Inn) refurbishing two lower floors, Reception and various Meeting Rooms. I was dropped into the hustle of a construction site, organising logistics, working with a supervisor to ensure works are progressed and managing the works contract with the Main Contractor. Quickly the buzz of being on site and seeing the works progress became addictive, even including when I was working from an office in a shipping container during a hot summer. This became the first building contract of many which I surveyed in my career, this felt like the much-needed niche which I had happened on completely by accident.
I feel lucky about my career as I moved on from there to work across the industry – on financial buildings in Canary Wharf, Airports, Critical Care Hospitals, Defence projects and eventually on the railway (secretly I love the history and background to our railway heritage). The most challenging project to date was producing a benchmarking exercise for the MEP Service on a Polish airport to help settle a dispute. A colleague and I had to produce a Cost Plan for the complete MEP services for a terminal in Poland from project documentation in a mixture in Spanish and Polish!
I didn’t qualify into surveying initially, instead I learnt the trade from the roots up. Initially working for sub-contractors dealing with the lifeblood of the contracting – the variation accounts and chasing down interim payments. This was a solid foundation to build on and gave me a good grip on the technology and the art of negotiation.
But I reached a point where I felt that I need more responsibilities and different projects, it rapidly became clear that I needed to become a qualified Quantity Surveyor. I ruled out doing a post graduate course full time early on as I couldn’t afford to be without an income, therefore part time was the only option available to me. Even thinking about distance learning made me incredibly nervous. Luckily, I have some great friends who showed that if you committed to it, anything is possible if you want it. After much research I decided on the College of Estate Management, which worked on a correspondence basis and allowed people to schedule learning to suit their individual needs. It was two years of using all my annual leave for exams or essays and tested my stamina and commitment to the limits. Despite this challenge I found myself graduating with grade of merit and was able to have another day in a mortar board and cloak celebrating, one step closer to gaining MRICS after my name.
A busy year later of writing up competency statements, writing my critical analysis, revision and fierce mock preparation, I then found myself in a small meeting room at the Park Inn Heathrow sitting in front of a panel hoping to be elected a professional member. I can remember leaving thinking I had failed, but then followed five weeks later by the elation of being advised that I had passed and was now MRICS. Post nominal letters which to this day I still take pride in having achieved.
The Well-being Agenda
The safety agenda has rightly been front and centre of the construction industry for many decades now. However, I feel like many others, that the ‘health’ aspect of health and safety has not had as much exposure as it should. There are many statistics we can look at. Approximately 200 construction workers will commit suicide in a year[i], but only 38 construction workers died from a work-related death in 2018[ii]. There has to be a reason why construction worker are three times more likely to commit suicide than those in other industries; yet there seems to be no groundswell in the industry to try and counter this.
The biggest blocker to this is the stigma around mental health and the failure to recognise the true impact of stress and inappropriate response to it such ‘just man up’.
In my own small way to help make a difference, I have committed to be a Mental Health First Aider and be there to provide private and confidential signposting to help to those struggling. Also, I try and challenge when people negatively characterise mental health issues. But I feel the issue isn’t just with mental health, I think a lot more can be done around physical health – healthy eating choices in site canteens or offering health check-ups. The pervading smell of a fry up in site canteen is hard to resist, and I have certainly felt the benefit of changing onto porridge from sausage sandwiches.
Diversity and Inclusion
There have been many reviews of the efficiency and productivity of the construction industry since the Latham Report in the 1980s, yet this insanity has continued. Einstein is quoted with saying “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I strongly believe that an important element of this is the lack of diversity and inclusion in the construction industry. The plurality of different views that can come from a diverse and inclusivity workforce would counter some of the current insanity of the construction industry. If we are to truly tackle some of the challenges facing the construction industry to provide efficient and effective solutions for the built environment into the 21st century then we need new and fresh ideas. These will only come from hiring a diverse workforce and tapping into the plurality of views, also with an inclusive workspace where people can be themselves rather than hiding behind façades.
Both diversity and inclusion are key for revitalising the construction industry, it is immensely satisfying to this agenda gaining steam but there is much more that can be done.
[iii] Faithful+Gould is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, Faithful+Gould, 2019