CONSTRUCTION JOURNAL

The day job: a quantity surveyor in the UAE

Gaining as much experience as you can early on can be of huge benefit to your career, as one quantity surveyor explains in our latest article on the work of construction professionals

Author: Chido Madamombe

28 July 2021

View from above of Dubai, United Arab Emirates including buildings and roads

Q: Where are you based?

Chido Madamombe: I currently work in Dubai, in the UAE.

Q: Tell us about your career path.

CM: My career was influenced by seeing my father, a quantity surveyor, roll out A3 drawings with a scale ruler on one side and a calculator on the other. I later went on to graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa with a BSc in construction studies and a BSc (Hons) in quantity surveying.

During my studies, I undertook vocational work to gain a better understanding of the construction industry, and more specifically the role of quantity surveyor. I did practical training with a building contracting firm and a consultancy firm, which gave me a wider appreciation of the role and functions a quantity surveyor plays before and after the contract is agreed.

During my studies, I undertook vocational work to gain a better understanding of the construction industry, and more specifically the role of quantity surveyor. I did practical training with a building contracting firm and a consultancy firm, which gave me a wider appreciation of the role and functions a quantity surveyor plays before and after the contract is agreed.

I moved to Dubai in 2016 as part of a major building contractor's graduate recruitment programme, where I began my career as a project-based quantity surveyor on a retail development on Bluewaters Island, one of Dubai's artificial, mixed-use islands.

I then had the opportunity to work on a new school campus for one of the Dubai’s oldest academic institutions, located in Mudon, Dubai. I got a wider range of experience on that project as I was exposed to the full spectrum of site-based quantity surveying tasks, from estimating, procurement and contract administration through to agreeing final accounts.

I believe that, at the earlier stages of their careers, quantity surveyors benefit immensely from smaller or relatively straightforward projects since they can be assigned more responsibility and gain experience faster.

I also worked on an airport project dealing with change management and subcontract administration. In 2018, I relocated to Qatar where I joined a project management and quantity surveying firm. This is where my journey as a consultant quantity surveyor began.

I gained more experience in the education sector while working on a new build for one of Qatar's co-educational British international independent school campuses, located in Al Waab-Doha. I led the commercial effort on the project, managing the main construction works contract, furniture procurement for the campus, and the supervision consultancy package on behalf of the client.

During my time in Qatar, I also worked on infrastructure projects including a container terminal expansion in Hamad Port; this involved working closely with the client team from procurement through to the contract award. I have also worked on commercial office fit-outs, retail, hospitality and leisure projects and facilities management accounts.

I become a chartered quantity surveyor in 2020 thanks to the support of my husband and colleagues. Earlier this year I moved back to Dubai and joined a project development consultancy as a chartered quantity surveyor. I am currently working on commercial office fit-out projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. I also provide commercial support to the in-house project management and building surveying teams.

Meraas hashtag sign on Bluewaters Island, Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Bluewaters Island, Dubai

Bluewaters Island, an artificial island off the Jumeirah Beach Residence coastline, near Dubai Marina, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Q: What kind of projects do you work on?

CM: Currently I am working on commercial office fit-out projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. I provide commercial services before construction, such as preparing cost estimates at various design stages and procurement and tendering. During the construction stages, I then provide cost management and contract administration services.

I like a challenge, so I also enjoy working on unique projects such as large-scale infrastructure and temporary exhibitions, and supporting financial institutions with loan monitoring or insurance-related work.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

CM: I am a part of a community that is literally building the future. I have also enjoyed working with different client teams from inception to project handover. I get great satisfaction from solving problems, completing a project and agreeing the final account.

'Focus on learning as much as you can. Volunteer when opportunities arise. Ask a lot of questions, and seek help early in your career. There are many experts in the industry who can advise you. Invest in your network too: get a mentor and build your confidence.'
Head and shoulders photo of quantity surveyor Chido Madamombe

Q: What are the day-to-day challenges of your role?

CM: Working with a diverse multinational team means that good communication skills are very important, especially when working remotely. You need to understand the team you are working with and develop good communication protocols to avoid misunderstanding.

It is also important to recognise that each project and project team is different, so you must be adaptable and willing to learn, unlearn and develop.

Q: What are your aspirations for the future?

CM: I want to continue to grow in the profession and develop into more senior roles while having a positive impact on the construction industry. I also want to inspire other women of colour to join the sector and contribute to its growth.

I am passionate about sustainable development, and look forward to working closely with both public and private sectors to ensure a more sustainable future.

Q: What changes would you like to see in the construction industry?

CM: I would like to see more equality, diversity and the continued inclusion of women. I always say representation matters, and having more females in leading roles in the industry will encourage younger generations to join.

More in this series
A UK quantity surveyor

Harman Barech MRICS talks about projects that make a difference, and supporting newcomers in the profession

Photo of street of affordable homes in Heath Town, Birmingham

Q: What advice would you give to someone at the early stages of their construction career?

CM: Focus on learning as much as you can. Volunteer when opportunities arise. Ask a lot of questions, and seek help early in your career. There are many experts in the industry who can advise you. Invest in your network too: get a mentor and build your confidence.

Take the opportunities that come your way, and then find something to specialise in once you have identified your area of interest in the industry.

Q: Finally, any advice for surveyors considering working overseas?

CM: Apply, apply, apply! Look for opportunities and, if you can, seek out people already in the organisation you want to work for and have a conversation with them about your interests. Put yourself out there and eventually you will find a great team to join.

Chido Madamombe MRICS is a quantity surveyor in Dubai
Contact Chido: LinkedIn

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