David Lane, regional director, London, at property consultant Thomas & Adamson, on how he got started in property and his cultural recommendations.
How did you join the property industry?
I had a temp job in an office working 9 to 5 and decided it was not for me – I wanted something a bit different. Speaking with various people, the subject of construction often came up and, being far better at maths than I am at drawing, there was a natural leaning towards the commercial aspects of construction.
What does your job entail?
It depends on the stage of a project and my role within it. My weeks can vary considerably, which is why I love it so much – no one day is the same. Last week, for example, I was on site in Ireland reviewing accounts and valuations, as well as attending meetings about resources, updating our website and visiting my Cat-B site in the City. This week, I have two site visits for new projects, a monthly site progress meeting and various other meetings with landlords and clients.
So, while I am still actively involved in the quantity surveying role on projects, there is a variety in what I am working on each week.
What do you like most about the property industry?
The diverse nature of what you might be involved with and the people that you meet as a result. In my career,
I have helped construct a new ocean terminal, repaired King Henry VIII sea walls in Portsmouth and constructed a new facility for training oil-tanker captains on a lake.
And what do you dislike most about it?
The red tape. I understand the reasoning behind it, but over the years, layers have been added to what can be an unwieldy process. This stifles the creativity and flexibility that the industry can operate with. Look at the Nightingale hospitals during the Covid pandemic as examples of what can be achieved.
What would you change about the property industry?
Other than the red tape, the utility companies in the UK. The delays to projects caused by these companies are mind-boggling, with limited recourse.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
The main challenge seems to be walking the fine line between work and family. It is easier than ever with hybrid working to slip into the habit of working away late into the evening or over a weekend. We must all get better at setting boundaries to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I have managed to help a number of people pass their RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and progress their careers. Professional growth is something we place huge importance on, and it is so important to motivate and help our employees learn the skills and knowledge needed for career advancement.
What do you value in people?
Honesty – I would rather know than be misled. Honesty is a vital character trait in both personal and professional life.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
There is lots of experience and advice in the industry. Soak it all up but remember that you will never know everything – you will always need to keep learning.
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