"It’s amazing to have others around me who are sharing the same experience."
I’m Alice, graduate quantity surveyor (QS) at Faithful+Gould, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group, in the UK. I was interested in Faithful+Gould because it’s one of the larger firms in the sector. The graduate programme has a very good reputation and I felt I’d be able to make a real impact all over the country and abroad.
I applied, was invited to the assessment centre, and started my graduate job in 2018. Quite a few people started when I did, so we have a great graduate community in the office. It’s amazing to have others around me who are sharing the same experience.
A QS helps with the cost management of a construction project. We help the client to set a budget, and decide who’s going to do the works, draw up the contracts – and when the project goes to site, we help them with the process of making sure the costs are managed well and the project is delivered within budget.
One of the biggest myths, which puts people off it as a career, is that you have to be super good at maths. One of the top skills is actually to be able to create good relationships with people. Sure, the technical aspects include understanding contracts and construction technology, but being good with people allows you be work effectively.
I’m very interested in digital tech, so I love how construction is adopting all these new technologies. In my role I want be part of the movement that makes quantity surveying exciting through technology.
The programme has been very good for me, I’ve had a lot of professional help attending Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) sessions to help me on my way to being a chartered surveyor. Apart from the formal support, I’ve had plenty of people just getting alongside me at the office. It’s been wonderful to work with people who genuinely care for me, my priorities and ambitions. Although I’m primarily part of Faithful+Gould, it’s also been great solving complicated problems with colleagues from Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin group – I have learned so much!
I’m working on two very different projects, one is a massive project and the other is very small. I feel my contributions are valued on both – I can speak up, take the initiative and be a real part of them.
The big one is the A14 Cambridge to Huntington Improvement Scheme, which started in 2015 and is due to complete in 2020. It involves building new structures, extending some of the road and diverting the route of the A14. I’m working as project controls commercial support. It’s an amazing opportunity as it’s not a traditional quantity surveyor role, and not something I thought I’d ever do. It’s great to be part of such a big project that has so many people working in on it. As part of the integrated delivery team I work with professionals from all over the country including at Atkins, contractor organisations and Highways England. It’s been fantastic to work on something that matters – thousands of people will rely on the new infrastructure. Getting this as one of my first projects has been really cool!
The other project is extending a little primary school. I work on post contract cost management, and commercial support. I love it because, as it’s such a small project, I get to take ownership of it. I get to have first hand experience of the process and be part of the decision making. It’s amazing to be creating new learning spaces for people in the future and to get to say, “I helped make that happen!”
I initially wanted to be a doctor, so I did chemistry, physics and biology. I also did business management and economics. Those were the ones I really loved, and are more in line with what I’m doing now. My mom, who used to be an architect, suggested I try out quantity surveying. She put me in touch with a few QS’s and after talking to them, I thought it was for me. What really clinched it, was when I heard that if I got a chartership through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), I’d be able to work all over the world!
I work with people who inspire me by achievements they’ve been able to make at Faithful+Gould. As a woman of colour it’s important for me to see people who are like me, doing great things for the company. I love that who I am doesn’t act as a hindrance to me succeeding here. I’m motivated knowing there’s no limit to what I can do. It’s very cool to be allowed the freedom to discover what you’re interested in and to just go for it. At Faithful+Gould, if I make people aware of my goals we achieve them.