Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
My life in Quantity Surveying: Guest blog by Amanda Milambo, UCEM Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying programme
Posted on: 20 February, 2018
Journey into quantity surveying
I was always interested in construction and, in particular, architecture. I had never heard of quantity surveying before until I went to Copperbelt University in Zambia and was introduced to it.
The first year of studying at university was similar to taking a Foundation-level degree and it encompassed looking at the different Built Environment disciplines. One of my lecturers was interested in me studying town and city planning but it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
From there, I became interested in quantity surveying. I found it interesting how you see a building develop from nothing. You are part of a development. Housing developments change people’s lives, whether small-scale or large-scale.
Housing development makes a difference. Being part of that process intrigued me and I wanted to be part of that.
I worked in Zambia for a year then moved to Botswana before heading across to the UK. I worked as a quantity surveyor for a contractor for nine years.
From there, I was very interested in teaching and making a difference in people’s lives in my area, therefore I was interested in furthering my knowledge and the theory behind it.
This led to me doing my MSc in Construction Project Management at Birmingham City University.
Not long after graduating, I joined UCEM as a Tutor and later became a Programme Leader.
The experience of teaching has been amazing in terms of how we can make a difference in people’s lives. We get people starting or furthering their career in quantity surveying. The qualification really makes a difference. I am passionate about getting students through their studies.
One experience in particular resonates with me. Often, we don’t think about what we do. One student was giving up because of the pressure of studying and working. This student was based in Mauritius.
I don’t remember the conversation, but I encouraged him to hang on in there and do the best he could and get to the end. The next thing I know, I get this email from the same student. He had completed the programme and was thanking me for the time I encouraged him to stick at it. He now has the qualification he wanted. At Graduation, he wanted to see me which was very humbling.
It’s stories like that which make my work worth it.
Another student was struggling. I encouraged her to defer some modules and do one at a time, rather than two at the same time. She took the advice and when I met her, she said: ‘thank you for encouraging me’.
That’s what my work is about. I am passionate about seeing students succeed with grades they are proud of. You make a difference to people’s lives.
BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying programme
Just because we are on the academic side of things doesn’t mean we are isolated from what is happening in industry. Our programme focuses on blending theory with practice. We work closely with practitioners in the industry. Our resources are updated to align with changes happening in industry. I keep abreast of what’s going on in industry through networking too.
Opportunities within quantity surveying
Opportunities are there depending on which path you want to take. Some people want to be academics, others want to work for clients as consultants.
What we do on my programme is expose students to the different areas of practice, tailored to what the industry does. You could end up working for a government organisation or a bank, for example.
The platform is worldwide. We expose students to what it means to work in Abu Dhabi or Hong Kong, looking at culture, ethics and what is important if you are practising in those areas.
For me, when I was in industry, I enjoyed being part of the process of construction, seeing a building come from nothing and being part of that change. It’s making a difference to people’s lives and careers. My work is fulfilling because of this. It’s great to be part of improving somebody’s life and helping them get up the ladder in their career.
‘If I can do it, so can you’
I did an MSc whilst working full-time so I can empathise with our students. I had my first son when I was studying. When students say they can’t manage, I tell them, ‘if I can do that with work and family, so can you’.
Once you are committed, you have a focus, you know where you want to get to, nothing is impossible. If I can do it, anybody can.
Amanda has many years’ experience working within quantity surveying, which has seen her work in Zambia and Botswana before moving to the UK. She holds a BSc in Quantity Surveying and an MSc in Construction Project Management, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. For more about the BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying programme, please click here.