Role: Managing Director, Quantity Surveying Services
Office location: London & Tunbridge Wells
Joined the team: March 2016
I had been told by a colleague that there was an upcoming opportunity at Base that may be suited to me. I met Duncan for an interview and really liked his plans for the company. The opportunity to help grow the Quantity Surveying side of the business seemed like a challenge I could achieve and one that would allow me to fully utilise the skills I’d acquired over my 30 years in the industry.
Why did you become a Quantity Surveyor?
When I left college, I had the choice between becoming a trainee Quantity Surveyor or a Project Manager. The trainee Quantity Surveyor offered more money – £5 extra per week! At the time, being young, that was enough to sway my decision. However, early in my career I worked with a commercial manager who really inspired and motivated me. It was because of him that I decided it was something I really wanted to do. I think everybody needs a mentor like that in their career; somebody who enthuses them and ignites that fire of ambition.
What skills and expertise do you bring to Base?
I bring a wealth of experience – I know what you’re thinking, I don’t look old enough! This experience means I’m a good person to assist with any problems and help with the development of the younger members of staff.
What are your career goals for the future?
I imagine my career will be starting to come to an end! I’d like to continue until I’m 60 and then go part-time. I think my target until then is to share my experience and focus on the training of other members of staff – particularly the Associate Directors – to prepare someone to take my position. As the Americans say, ‘pay it forward!’
How do you see the industry changing in the future?
15 years ago, I never thought we’d have a paperless office and look where we are today! We’ve had to contend with a lot of technological advances in recent years and I imagine there are more to come. The role of a QS will have to adapt to that.
How do you see Base fitting into those changes?
People have been having disputes and arguments since the beginning of time, so I think the legal side of our work is protected to a degree. We do still need to ensure that we are understanding and aware of new technologies so that we remain current.
Is there an achievement in your career that you are particularly proud of?
I have achieved a lot at Base, but aside from that … During the Global Financial Crisis, I worked on a job that had previously been cancelled due to government cuts in funding. When it was resumed, the tender was a real mess and we weren’t sure we’d be able to get the project back on track. I led the team, de-risked the project, negotiated a competitive price and managed to get it back up and running. It was worth a lot of money and hadn’t looked positive, so I was particularly proud of that.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced at Base?
I think most Quantity Surveyors fit into one of two categories. They are either very technically skilled and rely on their expertise, or they are great with people. The biggest challenge I’ve faced over the years is the development of my personal skills. I was always technically good, but I’ve learned that being competent isn’t always enough. We are in a people focused industry and we need to know how to communicate and respond in varying circumstances.
What would your biggest piece of advice be to those starting in the industry today?
Read the contract! I picked up a saying many years ago: ‘If you’re going to play the game, you need to know the rules.’ The rules in our game are the contracts. Quantity Surveying is all about the detail, you cannot be ill informed.