Job Title: Beach Bum. Currently in Sri Lanka on ‘gardening leave’ from my old job, but when I touch down at Heathrow, my new job title will be: Chartered Surveyor & Associate Director in the Central London Restaurant Leasing team at CBRE.
Which means: I find restauranteurs to fill vacant spaces within Central London on behalf of private land owners or institutional landlords- basically, I’m a glorified broker!
Did you go to uni? I gained a BSc in Property Development at Sheffield Hallam in 2010.
Do you have to have a degree to do your job or is work experience more important? Yes, in order to be a Chartered Surveyor you have to have an accredited degree! Work experience is very important, but unfortunately surveying is one of those professions that you have to decide on before applying to university. However, there are 1 year masters courses that students can undertake whilst in practice and lots of the big surveying firms usually sponsor grads to do this.
Were the exams difficult to pass? Any tips for revising? My uni exams were easy but the real challenge was trying to pass my APC to become chartered. When I sat it the first time, I was the only person doing it within the firm, so studying, staying motivated and having a full time job was really hard and I ended up failing! However, the second time round I had lots of help from BGP (my last company) and managed to pass! So if at first you don’t succeed, etc…
What was your first job after graduating? Entering into the profession in the middle of the recession meant that jobs were hard to come by, so I opted to work in Property Management (the less sexier side of surveying), which meant that I was responsible for managing multi-use buildings in and around London. The duties that were required of me ranged from setting service charge budgets to making sure there was enough toilet roll in the communal toilets!
So how did you end up at CBRE? As soon as I started property management, I knew it wasn’t for me, so when an opportunity came up to move into the ‘sexier’ side, I took it! I went to work directly for a private landlord doing asset management/leasing. This was great as I got exposure to all sectors of the commercial market- from offices and warehouses to retail and restaurants. From there, I knew I had a passion for retail/restaurants and being the personable person that I am, I thought I’d make a great agent. I guess the rest is history.
What does a typical day at the office look like for you? At BGP, I would often get to the office for 8am and respond to emails and voicemails from the previous day. I reported to clients on a daily basis, updating them on the process of leasing. A lot of time was also spent with colleagues, discussing and planning leasing strategies for the developments I was working on. This involved collating schedules or drafting professional reports and presentations. As a restaurant leasing surveyor, it’s important that I know about all of the up and coming restaurants, so my lunch times are regularly spent trying them out with either clients or agents. Lots of my time is also spent showing prospective restaurateurs and retailers around properties and developments or advising my client’s architects on retail specification requirements during the design stage of a project.
What do you suggest wearing to an interview? Surveying is typically quite smart, so I would always recommend wearing a suit or smart dress and heels to an interview!
What’s the culture like? A huge part of my job is being social. I am out 2 to 3 nights a week, with clients or other agents, and the success of my job is heavily reliant on my ability to communicate with others.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve ever worked on? I worked on the redevelopment of Victoria, London – the Nova development – whilst I was at BGP. This is a mixed-use development of just under 1 million sq. ft, including residential properties, offices, retail spaces and restaurant units. I was part of the leasing team who are responsible for leasing 18 exciting new restaurants; examples of some of the names we have secured are The Riding House Café, Jason Atherton, Barbecoa, Bone Daddies and Franco Manca.
Do men dominate your industry? Surveying is – sadly – a very male-dominated industry. There are times when I notice my voice may not be heard, but the younger generation of surveyors are very accepting, which aids in my progression.
Where do you see yourself in two to three years time? I love my job and love being independent. I will always want to be looked up to and strive to maintain a good reputation in the industry. I have no set goals other than that I want to be happy, possibly work abroad and earn shit loads of money…
If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would it be? I’d love to be a furniture designer… I’d like to think I’m quite creative.
And finally, what one piece of practical career advice would you give to your younger self?
Be confident and read your emails 5 times before sending them… you can never get them back!
A powerful woman and good friend of mine. Any questions? You can ask them here.