Employee Profile: Emma McManus

Suzanne Hatswell
Emma McManus, a graduate quantity surveyor, plays her part in delivering the growing work that we do for major supermarket retailers. In this feature Emma talks about her experience so far.

SH: Tell us about yourself.

EM: I graduated from Nottingham Trent University in June 2010 and joined Faithful+Gould in September 2010 as a graduate quantity surveyor. I am based in the Euston Tower office in London, on the 31st floor, so the view is very nice!

Although I graduated at a time where the economy was struggling and finding a job was difficult, I knew I wanted to work for a large company like Faithful+Gould for the chance to work on major projects and the training offered.

I am currently on the Graduate Development Programme, working towards the completion of my APC, to gain RICS membership. This programme provides support and guidance to graduates in gaining their profession accreditation. As well as the Faithful+Gould programme, I recently joined my client's in house training scheme. This provides additional guidance and support in the form of a mentor and training sessions that I attend along with around 100 other trainees from various companies used by my client.

SH: What are you working on just now?

EM: I am part of a national team providing quantity surveying services for a major supermarket client as part of a framework agreement.

On a normal day I receive a scheme layout from the architect. I liaise with them to better understand how the scheme works, and how it all fits together on the site. I then send the drawings out to highways consultants and structural and civil engineers to obtain their advice on possible works associated with the development. Once this has taken place I work up a cost plan based upon the information received. I am also involved in the post contract works. This means going to site to check the progress and valuing the work undertaken by the contractor against a valuation they submit or providing further cost advice on variations submitted.

SH: Is it interesting?

EM: I find the role interesting as although each scheme is different, they do have similarities and it is relatively easy to build up a knowledge base quickly. I have made a few site visits already, and it is great to see the different speeds in which construction takes place, say in comparison to the construction of residential developments which is generally much longer. Visiting the site also enables the store layouts I see on a daily basis to come to life including different construction technologies, such as bio mass boilers, bio generators and sun tubes which I may not get to see working on other projects.

SH: Why is the quantity surveying service so important?

EM: Providing accurate cost advice can be the most important part of a construction project, as it can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a scheme progresses or not. This makes the role I play particularly important and when a scheme gets taken to site, it turns initial sketch drawings into a real life project. Getting a get chance to be part of the projects through to the post contract stage is rewarding, as I am part of the development from initial sketch plans to fully worked up drawings, and finally a constructed store.

SH: What's good about the project you are working on?

EM: Being part of the clients training scheme helps me learn about different store types and the technologies used and the issues relating to them. This can include understanding how an extension differs from a new build store, and the issues around customer disruption, to knowing what happens once the store construction is complete before being handed over to the retailer and then opened to the public.

The retail industry uses a large amount of energy to power their stores, it is interesting to understand the ways in which they try and keep this minimal through the use of renewable energy sources or the selection of materials utilised in the construction of their stores.

SH: Are you enjoying this work and why?

EM: Definitely! Since joining Faithful+Gould I have worked on lots of different schemes from fit out, (where a developer will construct the shell of the store and the site works), new buildings on brown field sites with a lot of demolition, to projects where the existing building required a lot of retained features. I have also been involved on ‘mixed use' schemes, incorporating retail and residential units on the site as well as decked car parking.

SH: How is your career progressing?

EM: Although I graduated at a time where the economy was struggling and finding a job was difficult, I knew I wanted to work for a large company like Faithful+Gould for the chance to work on major projects and the training offered.

Working towards my APC involves keeping a diary to record my daily tasks and attending revision sessions helps build upon the knowledge I have from university. I also have regular meetings with my APC supervisor to track the progress I'm making and to discuss areas that I need more knowledge and experience in.

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