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A Day in the Life of a… Quantity Surveyor Consultant

Jamie McKenna, Senior Consultant Surveyor, GVE

1. How did you start your career in the construction industry?

I was always destined to work in construction in some capacity. From a young age, I wanted to be an architect, which then evolved into wanting to get involved in building surveying after a work placement week with a local building surveyor whilst in my later years of secondary school.

It was during the placement year of my Building Surveying BSc at the University of the West of England where I was exposed to elements of quantity surveying and decided I wanted to transition away from dilapidation surveys and party wall agreements. As the year went on I slowly became more than just a placement student and a local contactor I was working with at the time offered me the chance to join the team as an intermediate QS.

After a couple of years with them and a couple more with a well-known national housebuilder, I moved to GVE Commercial Solutions, which not only allowed me to roll back the years and complete my bachelor’s degree in quantity surveying but also helped me find my calling in the industry.

2. Describe a typical working day for you.

Every day is different, except for my mandatory first coffee of the morning. My day would typically include subcontract management activities such as raising notices, assessing applications for payment, or sorting out final accounts. It could also include both long-term and short-term cost forecasting for elements of works, such as labour and bonus entitlements.

3. What is the most memorable construction project you have been involved in and why?

It would have to be my current project, Thames Tideway, which is a prestigious and engaging project I’ve been involved in. Thames Tideway is the construction of a 25km combined sewer running mostly under the River Thames, which will ultimately help to clean it up for the good of the city of London and the surrounding wildlife that relies on it.

4. What do you see as the greatest challenge(s) in your role and how do you overcome this(these)?

The role of quantity surveying as a profession, and the industry as a whole, has to engage with the ever-changing information technologies at our disposal such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) to name just one. The key to being successful is remaining engaged and continuing to develop professionally to stay relevant. Without doing so, businesses could be left behind, whilst the rest of the industry moves forward.

5. What is your vision for your industry in the future?

The need to be sustainable and conscious about the pressures exerted on our natural environments is becoming ever more apparent. Parts of the industry is starting to address sustainability issues, through construction process and careful selection of resources used. However, more can be done and the industry has the opportunity to become the leading sector in the fight against climate change. More is needed to be done before it’s too late.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring quantity surveyor?

Learning doesn’t finish after school or university; the construction industry is always changing and it's important to always stay up to date and relevant. Proactive learning will ultimately assist with your personal development and remove the need for reactive learning brought on by issues or mistakes that are made in the future.

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