A monthly exploration into the world of sustainability in the built environment with commentary and input from UCEM’s Vice Chancellor and academics.
My life in Quantity Surveying: Guest blog by our MSc Quantity Surveying Programme Leader, Amanda Milambo
Posted on: 26 May, 2020
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.
There are opportunities for quantity surveyors all over the world. The benefits of a career in quantity surveying are the job satisfaction, high wages and the diversity of the role – you might work on a museum one year and an air traffic control centre the next!
It’s also about the people. The profession is very people-centric so it’s important to be able to communicate effectively to a wide range of people.
MSc Quantity Surveying programme
The programme is a conversion course. You only need, as a minimum, a level 5 qualification such as an HND and five years’ relevant experience to apply.
You can come on to the programme with a low-level qualification with relevant experience and end up working as a full member of the RICS and CIOB in a well-paid job in an interesting profession.
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. To find out more about the programme, head to our MSc Quantity Surveying programme webpage.