Tell us about your career to date Joining Watts in 1989 as a recently Chartered Building Surveyor was a revelation and I loved it; I was given fantastic opportunities managing sizable commissions and learnt a massive amount from some highly experienced colleagues. In 1993 I opened our Manchester office which over the years has flourished. On incorporation in 2007 I joined the Board, becoming Managing Director in 2010. All in all, Watts’ great clients, fascinating instructions and ‘can do’ culture has inspired me in building my career in our Company.
What is your typical day at Watts like? One word… variety. Making sure all our offices and people are working together, that we’re looking after our clients and delivering the standards we’ve set ourselves. It might involve an occasional lunch with a client as well!
Give us a fun fact about yourself… Aged about 4, I stubbornly stuck out my tongue and refused to retract it. After several hours my mum was worried it was actually stuck and took me to the doctor. “Mrs Ford, there is no known illness ….” The Doctor sprinkled salt on it and I eventually gave in!
Tell us about your career to date As Technical Director I take responsibility for ensuring that we adhere to best practice and compliance with professional standards. I am also responsible for compliance – both with our Designated Professional Body (RICS) and our internal Quality Management Systems as well as PII Insurance and risk management within the firm. I joined Watts in 1983, working initially at our Blackheath office and then our various London Offices. In 1990 I began to specialise in Building Pathology and since then have written two textbooks and presented numerous technical papers to the RICS and other professional bodies. I enjoy the technical aspects of surveying; how buildings work and the physics behind the performance of materials; it’s these details that give a good insight into problems when they occur. In the last few years I have been developing an increasing caseload as an expert witness.
What made you join Watts? Following A Levels I headed straight into a retail agency practice –I soon came to realise that this was not for me. At that time the RICS Direct Entry Exams shared a common Part 1 exam for General Practice and Building Surveying. The latter suited me better and moving into a small BS practice gave me just the right experience for my examinations. On qualification I wanted to spread my outlook; Watts was a developing a name for itself as a leading light in Building Surveying and appealed to my sense of purpose. I have never looked back. Now, some 35 years later I can look back over a career spent working on dozens of landmark buildings, a huge range of construction types and diverse projects. Watts is an established name in the profession; we have helped generations of young surveyors on their journey to qualification. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunities that I have enjoyed at Watts and have particularly enjoyed my involvement with the Watts Pocket Handbook, published nearly every year since 1983. We can’t sit back and relax; the trials of the global economy, financial markets and most of all the changing face of construction means we have to adapt and evolve to meet changing needs of our clients and the sectors that we work in. The next 5 years will see the development of new services, leaner working practices and an improved understanding of clients’ business aims and objectives. Being responsible for professional and technical matters, a typical day will entail the review of appointment documents and reliance letters, the preparation of fee proposals and “oiling the wheels” of existing jobs to keep them running smoothly. I will probably spend time on expert witness work either by site inspection, conferences with other experts and legal advisors as well as preparing for seminars and the like; it’s mainly work on the “front line” and usually at a frenetic pace!
Give us a fun fact about yourself… I enjoy working with my hands – model engineering, designing and making things about the house and building aeroplanes. One day I will finish building the violin that I started several years ago – the challenge then will be to learn how to play it!
Tell us about your career to date I started out as a carpenter in London and moved to Australia to do the same before joining the Royal Engineers where I spent nearly twelve years delivering projects for HM Forces, the MoD and Defense Estates across the UK and Europe. I moved across to Belfast, Ireland for 7 years to work on major redevelopments in health, education, commercial and residential projects. After that, I moved back to London and worked across the UK on redevelopment, retail, residential, education, health and commercial projects. It was after that I became National Project Manager at Watts.
What made you join Watts? I joined Watts due to the approach of the senior management team. They gave me a feeling of being welcomed and valued for the job I do. This has been proven by the supportive attitude of the team, and the forum, to grow and develop the Project Management services they provide.
Give us a fun fact about yourself… I have completed 4 spring cycling classics in 4 weeks – Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Amstel Gold and Liege Bastogne Liege.
What do you like about Watts? The penny quickly dropped with me that the formula of effort, hard work and most important, results, leads to promotion and helped to open doors to my career at Watts. The company has a great ethos that centers around freedom in the workplace, over the years I have been free to work with any clients I choose, this culture of autonomy encourages new ideas, new service areas and helps maintain a fresh approach. Now I am in a position to develop other people’s careers, I am keen to point out my simple formula to success which has paid off time and time again as some of the graduates I appointed over the years are now Directors in the business. I have worked on many exciting commissions around the UK, with my fantastic colleagues who I can now call friends.
What made you join Watts? As a fresh faced graduate in 1998 I was looking for a firm who would help me through the RICS APC process and “Watts and Partners” were sold to us all at University as the firm to go to for excellent training and true specialists in building surveying (the Watts pocket handbook was our bible for revision). Opportunity knocked when I saw an advert in Manchester Evening News – “Watts are recruiting for a graduate surveyor” – this was my chance and I bagged the job! Then followed two years of hard work and I got my MRICS letters through with a first time pass. Wind the clock forward 16 years, throw in a few promotions, a few big wins, and the darkest recession known to man and I am now the Lead Director for the north and a member of the operation board… so I think I made the right decision!
Give us a fun fact about yourself… In order to keep the middle age spread at bay, I have agreed to attempt a “mini” triathlon. That’s 800 m swim, 40k on the bike and 10k run all back to back… Watch this space, first step buy a bike!
What does your role involve? As the Lead Director for Building Surveying in London I have operational responsibility for the development, delivery and financial performance of the team across our core services areas of Technical Due Diligence, Landlord & Tenant, Neighbourly Matters, Contract Administration and M&E Consultancy. A lot of my time is spent managing the team, but as a Chartered Building Surveyor I am still actively involved in fee earning work and specialise in Dilapidations. These days I find myself involved on the more complex and contentious claims.
What do you want your next five years at Watts to be about? The next five years will be an exciting time for Watts and I am looking forward to playing a key part in the company’s growth plans and driving cultural change within the business.
Give us a fun fact about yourself… I am a keen cyclist and occasional triathlete (albeit not as fast as I would like).
Tell us about your career to date I have been very fortunate to work for some great companies in my career, spanning commercial office design, contracting and building consultancy with posts in Germany, Hungary and extensive travel in Europe and the USA. This has provided me with the chance to meet and work with a diverse range of clients and companies in a range of different cultural settings. A great opportunity to meet and learn about other people’s perspectives, a fundamental in a “People Business”.
What made you join Watts? Again we work in a “People Business” and those I met during my interview process and indeed after joining the company is in part the reason I joined Watts. In addition, “Grow Watts” an initiative to develop the business was an attractive proposition, and one I felt I could positively impact. The strap line “Building Relationships” has been the platform for my career, and here at Watts I could see a clear connection between what excites me and the vision we hold. It was also defiantly a challenge, change is good and we must embrace it.
Give us a fun fact about yourself… I performed on stage at the London Palladium. “No further comment”!
What is your role at Watts? I am part of the Executive Management Team at Watts and sit on the Operational Board as well as the National Building Surveying Divisional Board. I joined Watts in 1994 as a Building Surveyor and became a partner in 1998 after relocating from the firm’s London west end office to Bristol. I became part of the team that saw the business through its transition from partnership to full incorporation. I have continued to lead the Bristol office and have regional responsibility which includes the Midlands and Wales.
How do your clients benefit from your skillset? My 20+ years at Watts has given me a wide a variety of experiences in the professional services industry. From this, I am able to empathise with clients’ specific needs, often wearing a surveyor’s hat yet also providing a sound business outlook. This skill set has allowed me to work and assist repeat clients over many years including major occupiers such as ITV, The Environment Agency and Renishaw. My skill set has also enabled me to deliver key advice to major property clients and time critical advice to Developers in the South West and Midlands region.
Give us a fun fact about yourself… I was a past external examiner at The University of the West of England in both Real Estate and Building Surveying courses.