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2021 Highlight _ UCEM Mentoring Scheme !!

Closing sentiment and commentary from

Bola Abisogun OBE FRICS, Founder & Chairman

What exactly is the price to pay for “failing to succeed” OR “succeeding through failure”?

While you ponder on that for a moment, know that many have also asked me:

“what makes you think, you’re making a difference?”

“whatever it is you’re trying to do, is it really worth it?”

“why don’t you let it go, nothing is going to change, is it?”

“if I said, I’m really not interested, would you believe me?”

And so many other statements of that genre, for the most part, well intentioned too ……… but all in all, I’ve never really measured my success(es) OR understood how to fail. I fully respect the views of the thousands of naysayers that I’ve met along the way too; they have all conveniently fuelled my enthusiasm and optimism, as every single one of those darkest moments and ill-fated statements had elements of light baked within them.

Admittedly, and it’s no secret that, along the way, I’ve been ‘broken by the system’, rejected, disrespected, undermined, completely misunderstood, overtly abused and seminally displaced, frequently too; sometimes for no good reason. However, all of that was just a natural consequence of trying to make things happen. Leaning in and challenging the status quo is not for everyone, it’s risky too, but being born and raised in Hackney, East London, there was literally no other way to survive. You either go hard or go home.

They say that the rocky road is the one less travelled, so one should be smart and avoid it. Well, as a British born Nigerian, I’ve never been allowed to accept failure. I’ve never really been allowed to make mistakes – but that is what changemakers do and I’ve always been told “you must learn from your mistakes, that is how you grow”. And remember, “power is never given, it is always taken”; I have learnt to #FailFast all of my life, and that is how I continue to succeed. This piece is all about ‘staying true to your why, in order to succeed’.

When I started DiverseCity Surveyors ‘DCS’ in 2005, I felt like a failure running out of options trying feverishly to connect with other London based Surveyors from my community; there weren’t many 'visible' Surveyors of Black origin, in the profession back then in the late nineties, which remained unchanged well into the early noughties. My eyes began to really open during my travels overseas and every time I came back either from the US, but mostly from my trips to Africa, I returned pumped up and determined to stay true to ‘my why’. Today I stand at the helm of a growing, global network called DiverseCity Surveyors, a network that is building, quietly behind the scenes, a new ‘infrastructure of professional access and technical capability’. We are not delivering an obvious solution and many may not yet understand our core driver(s), BUT, everyone is welcome to join us to #FailFast and learn quickly.

After 20years of the above, premised on a wing, a prayer and unwavering hope, this milestone and [collective] achievement _ with UCEM; previously advised in August 2020 _ is NOT only a chosen highlight of 2021; but I would say it inches into one of the most compelling highlights of my 30yr professional career. So to those who were or remain in doubt, at DiverseCity Surveyors, we are delivering and most definitely succeeding in our longstanding pursuit of structural change across the global Surveying profession.

But why and how do I know we [DCS] are making a difference?

Because, the UCEM [the University College of Estate Management] formerly ‘CEM’ the College of Estate Management is an independent higher education institution which provides courses by distance learning for people in #realestate #development and #construction industries throughout the world. And yes, you’ve guessed it, their ‘positively disruptive’ business model fits with ‘my why’. In fact, UCEM are a perfect global partner for DiverseCity Surveyors and we look forward to diversifying the global Surveying profession together; initially through a joint pastoral effort, predicated in learning and sharing.

A diverse, suitably equipped and truly representative, accessible talent pool delivering excellence in Surveying, and drawn from across the global #builtenvironment is essential, on so many levels and for so many reasons. Many will know that this affirmation has been articulated by the well documented business case for diversity, equity and inclusion. However, positive, structural and/or systemic change [during my own career as a Chartered Surveyor] has been painfully and in many ways pitifully slow. Unashamedly, I thought my work was done and completed last year, but a year later – God willing – I can clearly see that many of my peers were right [yes, you know who you are!]; well, the next chapter has only just begun; but more on that later _ we move.

That said, another well documented highlight, achieved literally a year ago under the previous RICS SMT [back in August 2020], was our global partnership secured with RICS; itself another critical and historic milestone which has since translated into the Advancing Careers for Black Surveyors.

Although curated by myself over a period of 15 years, along with other industry disruptors, I was glad to finally be given a platform to work with the profession, alongside the support of Ayesha Ofori. But many are fully aware that currently, things have changed at RICS and for me, it’s time to really focus and ‘up the ante’ in a post-Levitt environ. Yes, the RICS have tried and will continue to do so, but in truth [and quite rightly] they have much to occupy themselves with over the next decade, as they attempt to rebuild the global brand of RICS. Frankly the task ahead for RICS has simply confirmed that they will be unable to succeed alone in Africa. The non-traditional talent pool have a key and critical ‘leadership’ role to play and my own focus has expanded into the emerging markets. Unapologetically, top of the list for me, is my Fathers land; the continent of Africa, where both the largest cohort of young people reside [i.e. on the planet] and the largest future talent pool in Surveying exists; those are just two of some very simple and unquestionable facts.

The academic and professional needs across Sub-Saharan Africa must be addressed and many are demanding that culturally competent solutions suffice too. They are reaching out to us at DiverseCity Surveyors and I am making the time to listen to them. I hear 'loud and clear' what many of them are saying and asking for in terms of academic, pre and post #APC and longer term professional career support. The unrelenting pace of technology [both PropTech and ConTech] will thankfully facilitate a convenient resource to unlock and enable willing participants, students, aspiring Surveyors and all UCEM Alumni to deliver viable, scaleable and affordable solutions, in a ‘culturally competent’ VLE [‘virtual learning environment’]. Exciting times ahead indeed and it really is, time to #GiveBack.

Notwithstanding, let us all enjoy this pivotal moment [on 23.12.21] with our new partner UCEM. Our mentoring scheme is not only iconic, it’s a testament to the conviction of my entire team at DCS and the commitment, empathy and understanding of all at UCEM. I want to take this opportunity thank some key individuals that have made this happen; Nikki Bulteel MRICS, Karen Ching MRICS and Bridget Wells along with all of the Mentors / Mentees. Their individual and collective effort has been amazing and the resultant opportunity created for our inaugural cohort has delivered an amazing start. Thank you all, for everything.

So, from myself as Chairman and all of us on the DCS Board, have yourselves a fabulous festive break and a truly blessed New Year. God willing, we go again from Jan 2022 and its looking to be a truly amazing and ‘positively disruptive’ period of growth, with and for our global network!

Stay safe and well and be sure to look after each other.


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