Every generation believes the era they grew up in had the best music. And each generation is usually more digitally savvy than the preceding one. Beyond that, there are a lot of myths attached to Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z that don’t always stack up. The newest additions to the workplace, Generation Z, were born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s.
Three members of this generation tell us what preconceptions about them are completely wrong, which have a little more truth to them and why a career in property excites them.
Modus spoke to Brian Bach, 24, a cost consultant at Turner and Townsend in Canada who specialises in mechanical and electrical systems; Penny McAteer MRICS, 24, a chartered surveyor working in the Office Agency team at Naylors Gavin Black in the UK; and Paulo Garcia, 25, a student at ESSEC Business School in Paris, studying for a master’s degree in Urban and Real Estate Management.
Brian: After working on the contractor’s side of the construction industry, I wanted to experience the other side of the industry. As a cost consultant, I am able to see how construction drawings progress through the various stages of each project and how they affect the costs. I also get the opportunity to work closely with the architects, engineers and designers to understand the project through their perspective.
Penny: My initial interest in surveying stemmed from my property investor/developer father. I went from shadowing my father to a week’s work experience with BNP Paribas at the age of 15, which is where I gained a proper understanding of the breadth of roles a surveyor could specialise in. This cemented my decision to study Real Estate Management at university.
Paulo: When I was at school, I had the opportunity to work in a real estate and construction company and when I turned 18 I decided that was something I wanted to pursue professionally. I think it’s important to participate in the development of a city and when you work in this industry you play an important part in that.
Brian: One of the most common myths I heard about the construction industry is that it’s a man’s job. There are more men than women but there is a significant push for more women in the industry. I think the gender gap will become smaller and smaller, especially with all of the programmes in place and organisations that are working towards that.
Penny: On my first day of university one of the lecturers asked the theatre how many of us had relatives who were surveyors. The majority of us raised our hands and I think this is how the surveying industry is often seen.
However, six years later I no longer share this belief, largely due to my colleagues and the contacts I have made. Better exposure of the surveying profession to school children will make them increasingly aware of the profession when making their university choices or applying to apprenticeships.
Paulo: That real estate professionals are only interested in making money. That’s not true. There are a lot of issues in the industry that are taken very seriously, such as respecting the environment, designing buildings with a mix of uses, decision making at government level and integration of new technologies.
Brian: For our employers to listen to and respect our opinion and alternate views, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. There is no growth without knowing how to improve, so when my line manager gives quality feedback with suggestions, it shows that they care about my professional growth, which in turn keeps me happy and engaged.
Also, growing up in the digital age, nothing is more frustrating than slow technology. Providing fellow Gen Zs with new powerful technology will most definitely keep us happy!
Penny: Being given responsibility is key to feeling engaged and a good way to get the most out of your employees as they step up to the challenge. In addition to this, responsibility is one of the best ways to learn and vital for Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) candidates.
Paulo: We need to be happy and feel involved in the work if we are to flourish at a company and produce quality work. It’s important there’s a relationship of trust between employer and employee. It’s also important for me to understand the vision of my employer so we can move in the same direction and have the same objectives and strategies in mind.
Access to training is essential too, especially when it can be done so easily online now. It makes me happy if a company is willing to invest in my professional career.
Brian: One of the biggest preconceptions is that we prefer to communicate with co-workers by text or email and cannot communicate in person. I find that it is much easier to misinterpret what the other person is saying by text or email, but in person you have body language and a person’s facial expressions.
Penny: I would say a big preconception is that we are less willing to work hard. Those entering the profession start at the bottom with the sole aim of working hard, becoming chartered and progressing through our careers as surveyors.
Paulo: We are less interested in current affairs than our elders but that doesn’t mean we are uninformed. We don’t want to know everything about everything all the time, we just search for the information when we need it.
Brian: Gen Zs are addicted to social media and their devices. Another one I hear often is that we do not watch TV. This is mostly true as most of our news comes from social media and we watch shows and movies on streaming services.
Lastly, most of us didn’t know that the save button icon is a floppy disk or even what a floppy disk was, unless someone older told us.
Penny: Maybe that we’re better with technology. I would like to think so, with proptech being so prevalent in the industry.
Paulo: Maybe that we are digital addicts. Even if we are, we also know how to give ourselves a digital detox and take a step back from it. Our speed of thought and action is seen by older people as impatience and distraction but we can talk about many subjects at the same time.
Ann Gray FRICS 01 June 2023
Stuart Watson 30 May 2023
Noella Pio Kivlehan 11 May 2023