Did you always know what you wanted to do?
I was always fascinated by construction projects, especially the way in which buildings and infrastructure can really change and transform the landscapes we see every day. I didn’t always know that this is what I wanted to do until I took a leap of faith to do my master’s in Quantity Surveying. Coming from a predominantly healthcare family, I wasn’t as exposed to the profession, but I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone (which at the time was within retail management) to pursue my career in Quantity Surveying.
What route did you take to get to where you are now?
I took an untraditional route to becoming a Quantity Surveyor! As part of my choices for my A-levels, I chose History, Media, Philosophy, Ethics and Business. I then went to Manchester Metropolitan University to study my Bachelor of Arts in History. Shortly After graduation, I applied for a graduate management scheme with food retailer Morrisons and spent 3 years as a Senior Manager, overseeing and managing stores with weekly turnovers of £500k+. After 3 years, I decided I wanted a new challenge and I began to research other professions within the construction industry, and I considered everything from engineering all the way through to construction management. However, Quantity Surveying was the key profession that took my interest due to the variety that encompasses the role. This includes contract management, procurement, and supply chain tendering, estimating and managing costs. Since completing my masters and entering the industry I haven’t looked back.
The Reality: what does your role actually involve?
The role of a Quantity Surveyor is very varied, and you can end up working in specific functions within the role such as Change Management. This encompasses managing changes to the contract. For example, if a Client asks you to build a 3 bedroom house but later asks you to add an additional 2 bedrooms, that is what we would deem a change or variation to the original scope. As a Quantity Surveyor, you would want to work alongside the team to put together a quotation for the cost of adding the two bedrooms and also provide an updated programme (if there is any impact to the overall planned completion of the project or certain tasks)
As Quantity Surveyors we aim to manage costs, contracts related to buildings and civil engineering projects to make sure that our clients get the best value for money.
We work with Engineers, Building Surveyors, Consultants, Commercial Managers, Project Managers, Accountants, Lawyers, Adjudicators, Architects, Environmentalists and more! Some key skills I've picked up are communication and learning how to tailor messages so that they land with impact. In an industry full of data and time pressures to deliver, it is critical to succinctly communicate messages to different audiences to ensure that all parties are on the same page.
"The best thing I like about my role is the endless variety, I could be working on a project specifically looking at the procurement and tendering of suppliers and within the next I could be working on contract management with focus on change management."
Challenges are inevitable. What are some challenges you personally face at work and how do you overcome them each time?
I often feel out of my depth when it’s taking me a while to learn or pick up something new. I overcome this by constantly drawing on constructive feedback from my colleagues and managers. This is to understand how I can do something better or simply draw additional knowledge from them so I can learn faster.
I wish I had entered the industry a lot sooner than I did. There is so much room for progression and as an industry that lags in innovation, there’s so much scope for technological developments.”
Hey Ladies, my name is Keziah Acquaye and I'm a 26 year old Assistant Commercial Manager at Lendlease Europe.
I’ve been working in the industry just over 4 years post-graduation, but I also completed multiple work placements during my time at University.
What is it like to be a young woman working in your career area & how do people react when you tell them your job role?
It’s exciting and I wish I had entered the industry a lot sooner than I did. There is so much room for progression and as an industry that lags in innovation, there’s so much scope for technological developments which can help us solve some of the problems that we face and this can only be done by having a diverse workforce.
People often react positively and ask me how I got into the industry. It’s one of my favourite stories to tell so when asked I really enjoying detailing how I took an untraditional route into surveying (safe so say I’ve really enjoyed my time in industry and haven’t looked back since).
What advice would you give a young woman thinking about a career in your role?
Speak to people is my biggest advice. Reach out on LinkedIn or even go to events within the built environment and network. Everyone within the industry is always willing to offer a hand and the best way to gain industry insight is to ask the very people who work there.
In addition to this, sign up to leading bodies like the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and ICE, subscribe to magazines such as Construction Mag and Building.co.uk, read the articles and get to understand the industry through different lenses.