David is a Chartered Environmental Surveyor and is FRICS. He works in private practice at DIEM Ltd based in Formby. He delivers management systems solutions for ISO9001, ISO14001 and ISO50001 for environmental, energy, CSR and business management solutions to private and public-sector clients in the UK and their worldwide operations.
• Environmental management system design and implementation to ISO 14001:2015 and industry schemes
• Environmental management specialising in rail, estates & facilities, water, building and civils projects
• Carbon and energy management implementation & strategy to various standards including ISO 50001:2011 & ISO 50001:2018
• EMS, environmental, energy and QMS auditing across various industries, specialising in the built environment
• Environmental and sustainability training
• Waste compliance (including healthcare waste to HTM 07-01) & minimisation audits.
• CSR strategy, measurement, data analysis and reporting to UN Global Compact
• Facilities management strategy
• Quality management systems and business management strategies to ISO 9001:2015.
He is a member of RICS North West Regional Board plus is a committee member of The Chartered Surveyors’ (1938) Club. Previously David sat on RICS Education Standards Board and was Chairman of RICS Lancashire Local Association and RICS Matrics Lancashire.
As part of his involvement in RICS Sustainability Taskforce Europe, he authored the chapter on Embodied Carbon in the RICS Europe paper on Sustainable Construction: Realising the opportunities for built environment professionals. He is also a contributor to RICS isurv.
He is a RICS APC Assessor for the Environmental, Facilities Management and Management Consultancy pathways.
What is your ideal day away from the day job?
On holiday either at the seaside or on a cruise both with my wife and son.
What does a typical day look like for you?
This is definitely split into two types of days. When working from home the working day starts about 08:30 after the nursery run and ends at 16:30. I’m quite strict about not working evenings or weekends, so I plan my homeworking and have a work schedule.
Out of the office, over the last few years I’ve visited sites from New York to Newcastle, Brussels to Brighton and often involves an early start to travel to the Client.
What did you want to be growing up?
Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
My grandparents. Born in the early 1900 in East Lancashire, life was tough compared to today, but they all achieved a lot in their lives, with World War 2 in the middle.
What is your proudest moment?
My son being born.
Work-wise meeting and having a conversation with Her Majesty The Queen as part of RICS 150 last year.
Is there a part of your career you wish you could have another chance at?
No, you can’t change the past and we all learn from experiences.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Check the news on my phone.
What gadget can you not live without.
iPhone. Except on holiday when I avoid the ‘phone since family time is far more important.
What’s your favourite book and why?
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming. Classic spy yarn.
Which woman/man in history inspires you?
Margaret Thatcher, a single minded winner. Whatever you think of her politics, she had a plan and stuck to it.
What’s your motto/favourite quote in life?
“changes aren’t permanent, but change is”, or “no matter where you go, there you are”
What’s your mindset anthem – the song that is always guaranteed to pump you up?
“Themes” by “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
What has driven your passion for diversity in your industry / sector?
That we are a profession that believes everyone should feel safe to be themselves, without experiencing prejudice or discrimination.
What’s the biggest myth about your industry / sector?
That it’s blokes doing deals down the pub.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever been given?
Make a decision and stick to it.
Best career advice you received and why?
Again, make a decision and stick to it.
What is the best lesson you have learned in business?
Have a respect for clients, understand their challenges and support them. I’ve found out this earns mutual respect.
How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
Plan your work and plan your work time balance. Having a young family, I plan days off with them in my diary.
How can networking and support organisations help the next generation of surveyors on their way up?
I made firm, lifelong friends through RICS Matrics and the wider profession. It’s far easier having a professional support and knowledge network around you with people you like, know and trust.
What tips do you have for managing your inbox?
Always respond to Clients but know when to pick the phone up to avoid email overload.
Don’t reply to emails late at night as it can make you look disorganised. If you are looking at emails late at night, write your responses as draft and in the morning check your response and send.
What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep very well thank you.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Family is more important than anything else and time spent away from them can’t be claimed back.
How do you relax?
Family days out and playing with my son. When he’s gone to bed watching movies or to totally have a break by railway modelling.
What does the surveying profession mean to you?
It’s a multi-layered pride in our profession, and I do mean “we”. RICS is stronger as a sum of its members and staff.
Top advice to those starting out?
Understand and implement the regulatory requirements RICS sets on its members and firms
Save up money if possible as there may be a lag between doing the work, invoicing it and being payed.
Please tell us a little bit about your company and the work you do as a Chartered Environmental Surveyor
I work for DIEM Ltd as a sole practitioner Chartered Environmental Surveyor and support a wide range of Clients’ built land, construction and property functions with compliance services.
My main work is supporting these Clients with ISO 14001 environmental management, ISO 50001 energy management and ISO 9001 quality management, plus offer training and other technical audit services on these.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Yes again, make decisions and stick with them.
How has the industry/sector changed during your career?
Technology. When I started work the office had one computer and only the secretary was allowed to go anywhere near it. As the junior surveyor I had to drive to another office and spend hours photocopying plans, enlarging them each time. This is something you can now do online in a couple of minutes.
Does the general pace of gender parity equality worry you at all?
No, I work for many highly competent women at Clients’ who operate at a senior level
What advice do you have for someone looking to negotiate a new salary?
Do your research and are you worth what you think you are worth.
What advice do you have for dealing with unsupportive managers?
Keep your professional standards high, if unsure get clarification and if things get bad, keep a diary and see HR. If things really bad, then change jobs.
What advice do you have for manging work and life?
Is “urgent” actually urgent? Whenever possible set realistic timescales and don’t let work impact evenings and weekends. Time off is vital for mindfulness and wellbeing.
What advice do you have for developing self-belief and confidence?
Record yourself on video and practice your presentation skills. By talking slower and more clearly in making these videos you’ll be surprised with how good you actually are.
Tell us about yourself and your business (how did you get started?)
DIEM Ltd is a sole practitioner limited company, Regulated by RICS. I got started when I was very happy working as Environmental Manager for a railway civil engineering company. The company got audited for an environmental award and the auditor was a sole practitioner and I mentioned that one day I’d like to work for myself. A few weeks later he rung and said if I wanted to work for myself and he’d give me work. I mentioned this to a colleagues from other firms, including a former employee and they both said they’d give me some work. So, I had 3 clients lined up and took the plunge, leaving on good terms and going back shortly to my former employer as a consultant.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I’d always wanted to do so, but thought it would be later in life.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was what I already did for a living, but for a wider range of clients.
What challenges did you face when setting up your own business?
Poor support and advice from a local authority funded business start-up organisation. So, I sought out the professionals in the form of a Chartered Accountant (who is still my accountant nearly 14 years later)
Waiting for fees to be paid. At the time I was on 90 day terms with one Client
How did you fund your business?
I owned my own car, phone and IT equipment, was going to be based at home, so after buying PI insurance, I was up and running.
What do you think the biggest barrier is to growing your business?
The barrier has been that to grow you need to take on more staff and guidance to “grow” has been around expanding the staff headcount, not expanding into different markets, workstreams, or even different ways of working, such as providing online products, which I’m developing at the moment.
How important it is to have an established network when setting up your business?
I’ve worked with and for friends I’ve met through RICS Matrics and RICS. In my opinion it’s vital that earlier in their careers, surveyors build a network of likeminded professionals as you don’t know what opportunities will arise in the future, plus it’s nice to do business with people you know and trust already.
What is your advice for those looking to set their own businesses?
Keep your overheads down ask questions such as:
- Can I work from home rather than rent an office?
- Can I do my own social media marketing and website rather than using a consultant?
- Plan your work long term and try and add extra capacity in the diary for CPD, extra work that may arise or even a day off or two.
Don’t feel obliged to work evenings and weekends. Within reason, your diary is your own and work life balance for your physical and mental health is vital.
How long did it take you start your business and make profit and what would you do differently if you did it now?
Profit was made as soon as I got paid.
Don’t be so reactive to having to deliver work immediately for Clients and be realistic to their expectations. Yes, some work may need to be done as soon as possible, but other work may not. This means you won’t have to work late into the evening to meet non-existent deadlines.