How we got into surveying… and why you should too
With GCSE and A level results having been released very recently in most UK schools, we thought it would be valuable to share the career journeys of AG Surveying Directors; Greg and Anthony, and training Quantity Surveyors; Dan and Luis.
Each member of the AG Surveying team has taken a different route from school leaver to qualified Quantity Surveyor; enjoying varied and successful careers.
Quantity Surveying is a highly varied, professional career with vast opportunity to specialise in many different areas and in a variety of construction sub sectors. Surveyors come from all walks of life and can choose from a multitude of ways to gain experience and qualify. Each unique journey is exciting and holds its own merits.
Our Quantity Surveying career journeys
Greg Thabit – Director – AG Surveying
I think of myself as very fortunate that I discovered a career that was so right for me from a relatively early age. In fact, it was perfect timing. During career coaching at school Quantity Surveying came up and seemed to tick a lot of boxes for me.
Negotiating, dealing with people, managing risks, working with numbers and managing the financial aspects of construction projects were all things that really appealed to me.
I wanted to get a job straight from school and begin to earn a wage so I chose to study part time at Anglia Ruskin. The day release programme saw me working 4 days per week as a trainee Quantity Surveyor and studying for 1 day per week.
Within 5 years I had qualified and it wasn’t long before I moved companies – working as a qualified QS for a small/medium sized construction company with tons of progression opportunity. And I did progress there greatly – largely owing to the fact that I had a fantastic role model and mentor in my manager, the Commercial Director. He supported my career development no end and saw how hungry I was to become the very best I could be. I worked my way up from an Assistant Quantity Surveyor to Commercial Manager, overseeing a team of Quantity Surveyors and Assistant Quantity Surveyors in a period of just 3 years.
After building a small, personal client base working evenings and weekends, and after taking a brief time out travelling with my girlfriend and now wife Amy in late 2015 / early 2016, I felt that I had learned as much and taken as much as I could from the job I was in. It was time to take an educated risk and go it alone. I took a leap of faith and left full time employment to set up my own Quantity Surveying and Estimating consultancy and I have never looked back since.
A career in Quantity Surveying can be so rewarding and take you in so many different directions.
Anthony Fitzpatrick – Director – AG Surveying
Upon leaving college, I decided to buck the trend of going straight to university to study for a full time degree, which was seen as the norm at the time. This was primarily because I didn’t have a clear subject choice or career I wanted to take and was a little tired of the monotony of full time education. I decided to explore Quantity Surveying as a potential career path as it loosely combined my favourite school subject (Maths) with my family’s background in construction.
I managed to secure a 5 year apprenticeship with a reputable RC frame and groundworks subcontractor; whereby I would work 4 days a week and study at Greenwich university 1 day a week. This suited me well because it meant I could learn the day-to-day skills required in the role of a
Quantity Surveyor on the job, without having to rely solely on desk study and the university curriculum, which meant I got a more hands on experience as well as earning a salary and having my university fees paid for. I felt after I finished my 5 year degree that I had a good mix of education and work experience which would give me a solid foundation for my career as a QS in the construction industry.
I decided to change jobs shortly after finishing my degree; moving to a smaller subcontractor in the same area of work as my previous employer. This allowed me to work on smaller projects, and crucially gave me more experience of Quantity Surveying my own projects rather than working under a more experienced surveyor. It came with more pressure and responsibility but this allowed me to progress quickly and within a year I decided I was ready to take on a more senior role.
I then worked as a Senior Quantity Surveyor for a Main Contractor which was another great role that enabled me to gain more experience within the construction industry as a whole, rather than risk being ‘pigeon holed’ in the groundworks and civil engineering sector of the industry. I spent a very busy but enjoyable 3 years in this position, learning more about all of the different sectors and trades within construction, and the different facets that come with working for a Main Contractor rather than a subcontractor. I feel that this has helped to shape me into a more rounded QS than I would ever have become had I not made that move.
After 3 years, I decided that in order to continue progressing it was time for another change. I decided that rather than looking for another role as a full-time employee I would explore the freelance route, where I would be able to work for a variety of clients and hone my skills further. That is when I decided to team up with my former colleague Greg, who had already made that same decision around 12 months prior. AG Surveying was born.
At the time of writing this, that decision was made just over 2 years ago and in that time we have gone from strength to strength; working with some brilliant clients on interesting projects and building a great team of hardworking, diligent surveyors who always ensure our clients are given a first class service regardless of their individual requirements.
Dan Parker – Quantity Surveyor – AG Surveying
I had never had a clear idea of what I wanted to do. I finished my GCSE’s and picked A-Levels that I thought I would enjoy. When the time came to choose a career path after A-Levels I was strongly advised by friends, teachers and my parents to go to university and get a degree in ‘something’.
As a result, I started looking at courses but nothing jumped out at me so I began to look at courses that offered a lot of potential career diversity and longevity. I somehow managed to whittle the endless number of career choices down to just two: chemical engineering and civil engineering. I ended up choosing to study civil engineering at the University of Portsmouth (cleverly chosen for its proximity to the beach).
After my second year I was given the option to do a year-long work placement. Sensing (probably after the first 3 lectures, in hindsight) that maybe civil engineering wasn’t for me and that you probably shouldn’t pick a £30,000 3- year degree on a whim, I applied for every type of job imaginable. The jobs I applied for ranged from electrical project manager to underwriter and everything in between! But after being invited to – and attending – a lot of interviews I got the feeling that the majority of these jobs just weren’t for me and as such, I turned down each offer as it came my way.
That’s when John (my father) mentioned that one of his colleague’s sons was looking for someone to help him out with his workload as he had just struck out on his own. I met with Greg in the local Costa the next day and he offered me a week’s work experience in Estimating and Quantity Surveying. I started the very next Monday and by Friday, he had offered me a year long placement. Six months later he offered to employ me whilst I worked through my final year of university and for the foreseeable future.
I couldn’t be happier with the career path I’ve chosen. Every day I come in to work and it’s a different challenge and a different client. Some days I will be measuring up for tenders before going through them with our clients and other days I will be on site going through variations with SC’s and Project Managers.
Working as a Quantity Surveyor at AG Surveying has enabled me to gain vital business insight and have more responsibility than I could have ever hoped for with only more room for progression.
Luis Robles – Quantity Surveyor – AG Surveying
I have always been into civil engineering, construction, and everything that comes with it. It all started at the age of 10, when my father took me to a construction site I will never forget – it was the start of our future home. I was fascinated by our capacity to change our physical surroundings for the better and by the pace at which we can do it. A desolate piece of land quickly became a treasured space and memory. Since then my interest for civil engineering has only grown. Civil engineering affects every member of society; it has the potential to improve our lifestyles and our environment. This is why I decided to study Civil engineering at INTEC, known as the best university in the Dominican Republic for all engineering sciences.
In the Dominican Republic, Quantity surveying or Estimating is not considered a career, but a derivative profession from Civil Engineering. As a result, all civil engineers must have a general understanding of this area, which is what I told Greg on my attempt to sell myself in my first interview with him (I think it worked). Truth be told, I had never heard of Quantity Surveying until I first started looking for jobs in the UK.
After finishing my studies in the Dominican Republic and working for 2 years as a site engineer, I decided that I needed a new challenge. That is why I entered a contest to win a full scholarship to study in the UK – and won. I completed my Master’s degree in Construction Project Management at the University of Portsmouth – undoubtedly one of the best years of my life.
When I had almost completed my studies, all my friends encouraged me to start looking for jobs to try to stay in the UK for longer and win valuable work experience for my future. That is when I first got in touch with AG Surveying.
I was and still am impressed with how well I have been treated in this company. Greg and Anthony have made this experience so worthwhile and I will always be grateful for how patiently they have been teaching me how to speak English and learn all about Quantity Surveying. Every day is a new challenge, a new project, a new client, and a new opportunity to give the best I can to help this company grow.
Quantity Surveying provides an incredibly broad range of opportunity for ambitious and aspiring graduates and school leavers which means tons of opportunity for you to find a job that is perfect for you.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the opportunities available at AG Surveying, get in touch.