April 2020: the much-anticipated email with my APC result had arrived. The news was good. I had navigated the process and passed the interview.
After the pandemic restricted us all to remote working, I had been interviewed in my home office. That in itself presented challenges – in particular, ensuring that my technology would let me communicate clearly with the panel. Anyone taking their APC online should test their connection and especially the acoustics of their room beforehand. Nobody wants to panic just before the interview.
Soon after I found out I had passed, my thoughts turned to what was required from me next. Specifically, how would I meet the minimum requirement for 20 hours of continued professional development (CPD) in my first year?
I decided to schedule one hour of formal and another of informal CPD each month. This would add up to 24 hours over a year, four above the minimum required. I kept a spreadsheet to log this, which I later uploaded to my RICS account to evidence my completion of the required hours.
I also referred to the RICS CPD decision tree. This clearly distinguishes between informal and formal activities and gives examples, allowing for a balanced learning process.
A lot of my formal CPD hours were completed at work, without me going out of my way to do so. One example was the requirement for formally teaching or training others, setting clear objectives and learning outcomes.
I presented three workshops for a client on budgeting and prioritising assets using a custom-built tool that I designed. This matrix measures 20 factors for every project and assigns a score accordingly. This was given to team members as a subject expert view, with clear objectives, then creating full training guides – ready for field implementation. The ability to log this as CPD illustrates the way members can intertwine their regular work with CPD in a way that benefits all parties.
Construction has seen market conditions, costs, client needs and occupancy planning all change in the past 18 months due to the pandemic. As a result, collecting live data and reading articles such as those in Modus and RICS Journals made up a big part of my informal CPD in the year after qualification.
I have found my chartered quantity surveyor status has helped my confidence as my employer, CBRE, navigates an uncertain market. I have provided market insight, current data and information on global industry trends. This has given me considerable support in my professional role as a cost manager, looking at benchmarking numbers and at trends in 2020/21, such as timber prices increasing by 300% and steel prices by 200%.
I have kept up with Modus articles about the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and reported back on these to clients. I also advised a big tech client based in San Francisco how its architect could implement ideas from the RICS Sustainability report 2021 in its design work.
CPD requires me to balance time at work with private study. Fortunately, CBRE has supported me, as it recognises that my learning will also benefit the company.
Companies need to be sympathetic to recently chartered staff. Allowing them a few hours a week to participate in RICS-related work could be beneficial to both employee and employer. New members are engrossed in the process and understand its requirements. But we need to advise employers as soon as possible about what is expected of us.
Advice from peers in house and externally has been crucial in my first year, as we are all in a similar position. It has been great to organise brainstorming sessions about recent trends in the industry.
Employers with newly qualified staff also benefit because they can showcase this talent when tendering for new work. Awareness of RICS in the US in particular is growing, as a couple of clients have noted in the past year. One observed how the accreditation influenced its decision to work with us.
Being able to relate industry trends to the ethical values of RICS is increasingly important in securing contracts. It has also given me a personal boost that my qualification was being recognised by clients.