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#ItsTime to say farewell to 2019 as we look forward to #2020...

So, it’s that time again, the last week during the last month of the year. How was it for you? Was it a year that could have been, a year that was or moving forward, a year that was simply lost. As we ponder the answer to that question, above all, we must give thanks for the opportunity and the experience – during 2019 – to tap into and truly realise our “individual potential”. But did you really dig deep to realise your own potential and more importantly, did it hurt - OR - did it not even cross your mind that you have to feel some pain...?

On a personal level, 2019 has been a bitter-sweet experience with an infrequent sprinkling of success amidst the many ‘almost but not quite’ events, and a few wholesale, categoric failures along the way; the latter thrown in for good measure, just to test and build ‘one’s character’. Failure is also an opportunity to reflect and refine what success really must look like. However, don't listen to 'the noise', it’s ok to fail - in fact it is your God given right - but we must learn [and earn] from any mistakes and bake the evidence-based conclusion(s) into our future to ensure and deliver the successes that follow.

DiverseCity Surveyors or DCS [as it is now fondly referred to], has indeed come a long way in thirteen years and even after just two years of 'official' operation, our success cannot simply be defined by the numbers. Yes, we have grown in size [of current membership], and although we are still small, at less than 500 members across UK and Ireland (with less than half of those being a fully qualified practitioner; i.e. MRICS or FRICS) the real question is – “what springs to mind at hearing the name DiverseCity Surveyors?

The value proposition of DCS is vast, and whilst we are still refining our multi-faceted offer, allow me to crystallise on a core pillar of our modus operandi. The real-life challenges of being a BAME-professional in the surveying profession [captured here via the Surveyorhood platform] have not been well researched or documented other than what the RICS have attempted to publicise back in February 2017; see here. Whilst this was an interesting start to 'the conversation that revolved around difference', it cannot and should not be the sum of the conversation for a profession that recently celebrated its 150th Year Anniversary in 2018. However, whilst we all agree, that there must be incremental and sustainable growth of the surveying profession on a global premise, we must increase our effort to successfully attract talent of BAME origin, not least because many of the emerging markets – where RICS should (and will) be a household name – will identify with said cohort of BAME origin. Notwithstanding, we must also recognise that in order to truly deliver ‘exceptional business outcomes’ and increasing ROI and SROI for our clients, along with a sense of purpose and moral compass; we will need to embrace ‘#DiversityOfThought’ from a diverse talent pool that continues to reflect all of the protected characteristics, as dictated by the Equality Act 2010. Talent really has no definitive colour, shape or size, and recognising that kindness is not a weakness, we need to be kinder not harsher towards each other.

At this juncture, and as our new Prime Minister begins to assemble his Cabinet, we will no doubt witness first-hand what ‘getting Brexit done’ will mean in real terms and like the well documented divisions across the UK and Ireland, we will have to continue to co-exist, simultaneously respecting each-others opinion(s) and either disagree to agree or conversely, agree to disagree. Whatever the case, economic uncertainty is still present on a global level [with recessionary risks increasing!] and a ‘technologically infused’ paradigm shift is in transit across many sectors, including the surveying profession. Change is coming at a rate of knots per second and like it or not, things will be markedly different – only becoming clearer over time. Like many things in life that we do not like, (but have to endure on a daily basis,) we will have to accept the ‘new normal’ and attempt to thrive as a result of our acceptance to it.

As Founder and Executive Director of DCS, I truly believe that in 2020 there will be no room for selfish behaviour(s) as we continue to compliment the eclectic teams that we assemble and feed into; moreso on a professional level and in full view of the clients and, quite possibly, their funders too. I am feverishly optimistic that the ‘impact investment’ community, should (and will) be very interested in the work of DiverseCity Surveyors, at the very least from a ‘pro-bono’ perspective.

With UK based DCS members, going into schools, colleges and prisons across the country, reaching out to the ‘non-traditional’ entrant, sharing our stories and inspiring the next generation through a unique tapestry of professional experiences and granular insight into this wonderful profession, our DNA at DiverseCity Surveyors will trade as a currency that only accumulates in value.

It is so important that we continue to engage with and deploy the widest possibly cohort of individuals, in an unfailing, self-less attempt to build a talent-pool that both represents the communities that we serve, irrespective of their (cap)ability and geographic / global location, but also, to allow others to develop an intricate awareness of the different RICS pathways and specialisations.

At DCS, there are so many amazing initiatives being considered, many being cultivated by the DCS Board, with a view to establishing some amazing ‘tools & instruments’ to further enhance the Members' experience of our core product(s). APC support is at the core of what DCS represents and we are keen to build on this very simple offering to further enhance our engagement with the sector, at senior level, through a roster of CPD and LLL; whilst being the de-facto support network to ensure APC success for aspiring surveyors from a non-traditional background. Rather fortuitously, the success of our first AGM, held at RICS HQ; seen here, has taught me one thing – we must continue to celebrate BAME success in the surveying profession and we look forward to holding our next annual event in 2020.

So, along with and on behalf of the Board of DCS [Justin, Arnold, Karen, Sam, Faith, Alex and Audrey] and our Committee [Sunny, Nana, Luke, So Sum Lee, Georgina and Joel], I would like to thank the Senior Leadership Team at RICS, led by Sean Tompkins our CEO. It’s been another amazing year of moral and tangible support from them, and I could not have asked for more during 2019 [well I could have, but I really didn’t need to]. Our future with and recognition by RICS has been challenging this year and yet still, we have been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest both within and external to RICS. Accordingly, our plans for next year include an unrelenting strategy of sustained growth & support; to positively assist RICS to achieve their BAME targets for UK and Ireland amidst a ‘digital transformation’ affording greater connectivity with and for the growing BAME population of students and practitioners; another simple yet impactful development that remains a cross-sector WIP. From increasing Employer and University engagement via the Degree / T-Level Apprenticeships, all the way over to the other extreme, helping shape and co-deliver grass-roots, community-led initiatives that champion #Social Value and aim to increase #SocialMobility, the DCS offer is destined to become even more aligned to the needs-analysis prescribed over the last 12months. We make no apology for our lofty aspirations and seek only to ensure that DCS members continue to be suitably equipped to be the best version of themselves, both inside and outside of the office. We must #BeTheChange because we can.

Sometimes, I am of the opinion that, if ‘giving-back’ was a condition [for and of everyone] in their daily life, some could quite rightly affirm that we would be a morally bankrupt society – possibly in perpetuity. But, ever the optimist, I am keen to lead by example using the surveying profession as a beacon of good practice and DCS an embodiment of that. We welcome you to join us to give of your time [and your technical expertise] in seeking to nurture, incentivise and equip our #FutureTalent – after all, it is our responsibility to ‘give back’ and ‘pay it forward’ positively contributing to the future of the profession, at all times.

Do have yourselves, a wonderful festive break and a safe, healthy and deservedly prosperous New Year; #WeGoAgain in 2020.

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