Quantity Surveying in the Middle East: From University in India to the Workplace in Abu Dhabi

Abhijeet Punyani
I’m Abhijeet Punyani, trainee quantity surveyor. I joined Faithful+Gould’s Abu Dhabi office after graduating from the RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University, Noida, in May 2016.

I’m from Nagpur, central India’s largest city with a population of 2.5 million. My childhood fascination with tall buildings led me to a construction career path. My bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering was followed by a year at work with a developer, where I became especially interested in construction costs. I went on to do a two-year full-time master’s in construction economics and quantity surveying.

At university, I was taught by RICS-accredited professionals, several of whom were active in practice. The topics covered were aligned with the competencies required for eventual RICS chartership. Some of the highlights of the course comprised of subjects such as quantification and costing of construction works, procurement and tendering, contracts practice & administration, design management, project planning, sustainability, building information modelling (BIM), risk management, dispute avoidance & resolution, project controls & financial reporting. In addition to the core competencies, I had an opportunity to gain insight into some of the useful Business Management concepts of Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship. At the end of the first year, I did a useful two-months internship at a UK cost consultancy in India, which enabled me to start putting the theory into practice.

I’ve evolved as a professional and learned how to contribute in a workplace team, and my confidence in presenting myself...

Having worked hard at university thereby achieving high grades, together with a couple of prizes on my first class degree, my efforts were rewarded. Six months before the end of my master’s course, I was invited to a Skype interview with Faithful+Gould, as a part of recruitment drive at campus. I was willing to work in an international environment, so I was delighted to be offered a trainee quantity surveyor job in Abu Dhabi.

I arrived here in Abu Dhabi just one week after completion of my final exams, excited to finally start work in my chosen discipline. Although the workplace feels very different to the classroom, I had been well prepared by RICS School of Built Environment, India. In my first eight months at Faithful+Gould, I’ve been primarily involved in pre-contract cost management activities. I’ve had the chance to put the skills which I acquired at university into practice: taking off quantities, cost estimating, cost planning and preparation of bills of quantities for buildings and civil engineering projects. I’ve gained more experience of the BIM-Measure and CATO software used across our offices worldwide. I’ve also had a chance to get exposed to evaluation of tenders.

I feel I’ve progressed so much since arriving. I’ve evolved as a professional and learned how to contribute in a workplace team, and my confidence in presenting myself and putting points across has grown to a larger extent. It feels great to work for a world-class organisation, where there are so many challenges and opportunities to progress.

Abhijeet with Amanda Clack, RICS President at the Convocation in Amity University on 10th Nov 2016. Earlier that day, Abhijeet was honoured to have received two awards from her- ‘Silver Medal’ (Second Merit of the Batch) and ‘Shri Baljit Shashtri  Award for Best Student with Human & Traditional values

My next challenge is RICS chartership. I’m aiming to acquire MRICS by the end of 2018, so I’m now keeping my diary and planning how to meet the required competencies (PDF, 0.31MB). Faithful+Gould supports me in this, ensuring that I get the appropriate experience and providing me with an APC counsellor.

I need to build up my experience of post-contract cost management competencies. At university we covered the different forms of construction contracts, and it’s been interesting to see the FIDIC 1999 red book used in practice here along with different standard method of measurements like - CESMM3 and POMI. I have conceptual knowledge, but I’m very keen to add practical experience, so my counsellor will help me plan this. I’m looking forward to gaining practical exposure in contracts administration, claims management, change management, project financial control & reporting, risk management, and other commercial management procedures.

I’m part of an in-house network of graduate quantity surveyors, and we have regular informal meetings to share our progress. We also have a monthly lunchtime Tool Box Talks training session, wherein we take it in turns to present the competencies we’re working on, and get guidance on technical issues from a senior member staff. I feel confident that I‘m in an environment where my progress matters and is supported, and there are clear career pathways for me.

I feel confident that I‘m in an environment where my progress matters and is supported, and there are clear career pathways for me.

Life in Abu Dhabi is good. I stayed in the corporate accommodation for a couple of months, before moving in with a colleague who was renting an apartment near the office. Social life has been fine and my colleagues are very friendly. I enjoy cricket and I play for the company team, so that’s been another way of meeting people.

The projects here are amazing to learn and provide an excellent platform for training with the help of high standards, competencies and client expectations. There’s a lot of capital investment in infrastructure and commercial development, with events like EXPO 2020, the next World Expo held in Dubai. I’m getting a good amount of exposure with projects surrounding this event such as Kings College Hospital, Dubai, and Cityland Mall, Dubai, as well as some major infrastructure projects in Abu Dhabi.

I’d encourage anyone looking for their first career move to consider this part of the world, to look for the opportunities and be prepared to work for them. The best companies will want excellent candidates, so it makes sense to try for the best possible results at university. For me, this has been a great move. I’d like to stay in the Middle East, once I’m fully qualified, as there are exciting prospects here, and it’s not so far from India.

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