Reuben Miller, residential chartered surveyor and RICS valuer at RM Surveyors, on discovering a new career later in life, the demands of running his own property business and his cultural recommendations.
Why did you change career?
After 15 years working as an estate agent in north London, I felt I’d reached a ceiling. Many people thought I was mad to retrain, but I knew I wanted to evolve, upskill and invest in my future.
What does your job entail?
I conduct independent residential surveys and RICS valuations for homebuyers, investors and corporate clients. Since purchasing property is not just a financial investment but often an emotional one too, I offer verbal feedback on all survey reports by Zoom and, where possible, like to meet clients at the property concerned to explain any issues and opportunities first hand.
What is it like working for yourself within the property industry?
It can be more demanding, but it’s often more rewarding too. I love the sense of freedom and independence that comes with making my own decisions, taking the business in a new direction and being rewarded for the hard work and networks I’ve built over the years. Over time, I’ve also learned the value of delegating.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Gaining a distinction in my master’s and qualifying as RICS associate in 2016 and a chartered surveyor and RICS valuer in 2018. Although the transition was a huge commitment and a lot of work, it’s given my career a fresh new direction and I haven’t looked back.
How do you balance home life with work?
My wife Kathy is a family psychotherapist so we both have demanding careers, yet our daughter Jemima thinks we see more of each other and our quality of life has improved since I became a surveyor. Inevitably, there are some long days, but the flexibility of being self-employed means I’m able to take more days off with family.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
Despite being dyslexic, I was regularly top of my master’s class. I believe I’m testament to the fact that unconventional pathways are available in the property industry if you’re willing to work hard, be creative and put yourself out there. I think it’s important to bring our whole, authentic self to work and be open about the challenges we face in life. A major part of my own journey was tragically losing my son Max in 2005: that’s why I’m now an ambassador for LionHeart, a charity that offers support to RICS professionals and their families.
What do you want to change about the property industry?
I think the industry needs to be more diverse and inclusive and create opportunities for under-represented groups. I’d also like to see more government investment in green and social housing.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Be yourself, feed your sense of curiosity and pursue what interests you most. Never be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo: you may end up discovering something totally new.