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'Commonwealth Strategy' to drive global growth for DiverseCity Surveyors






Introduction:

Current RICS membership stands at 134,000; at DiverseCity Surveyors ‘DCS’ we want to help grow that number by 10% within a generation and simultaneously inspire a similar number to consider a career in Surveying during the next decade, by 2030. We aim to do this by working closer with our counterparts across the Commonwealth, a process that has been in train since initial DCS conversations, back in September 2019.


Despite the initial domestic focus of our effort founded on a collective #livedexperience, amidst other well documented challenge(s) forming a key strand of our operations in the U.K; the reality is that we didn’t see or identify with the scale of the current and emerging opportunity to help and support the global BAME community and specifically within that, the exponentially growing Black contingent, current and within our reach.


Given that Sub-Saharan Africa with her vast and growing population, fast approaching in the order of 1.4billion people, significant and precious natural resources as well being home to the largest population of young people (under the age of 35years); Africa alone, presents a growing market of interest and activity for ‘DCS’. We will work closely with our advisors and other UK Government partners that recognise our unique offer and fully appreciate our why. To this end we are excited by the content of our initial conversations held during the last 2 years.



A brief update since October 2017:


Launched formally during Black History Month in October 2017 at the global HQ of the RICS, in London’s Parliament Square, the concept of our initial challenge was captured well and articulated by our Keynote Speaker; Egbert L J Perry, CEO and Chairman of Atlanta developer, Integral Group. Flying into London from his Downtown Offices at the iconic 191 Peachtree Street - home to the Commerce Club, Atlanta - in the State of Georgia, Mr Perry literally blew the audience away with his challenge to the profession. During his own passionate and informed delivery - Mr Perry, despite a well-documented roster of notable successes - spoke of his own career-long challenges, in the US - which stemmed from his deep roots and emotional association with his Fathers land, on the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda. Roots (I.e. cultural appreciation and knowledge of self) are everything within and across the Black community and it is these same deep rooted, cultural connections, with so many overseas ‘Commonwealth’ locations, that has fostered the growth and now launch of this, the first DCS global strategy.



“The global pandemic has clearly identified a specific and growing need for greater support and advocacy towards BAME communities both in the U.K. and other emerging ‘Commonwealth’ economies, across the globe” _ Abisogun OBE







Driven by the ever-increasing demands of our sustainable, yet growing membership as well as ‘significant other’ third party contributors and observers - our leadership team has chosen to ‘step-up’ to support the sustained growth of the global Surveying profession. Arising from a much wider industry perspective, key trends and themed conversations on the more general needs of the BAME community - held principally during the 2020 lockdown periods - we have consolidated our thoughts and ideas into a robust ‘strategy of engagement’ that will combine academia, industry and professional bodies.



“I’ve noticed that the more things differ, the more they remain the same. I was born to disrupt and it’s time to do something positively different” _ Abisogun OBE



An online, #DigitalFirst offer, as in the case of and led by our professional body RICS, will [and has] serve us well, affording us greater scale and consistency of the myriad problems and challenges faced by Black and BAME professionals across the globe. The real value has been ‘right-time, real-time’ conversations with plenty of aspiring and practicing Surveying professionals, in an accessible and affordable format. That said, digital poverty in some of our intended locations, has also presented us with another challenge; to better identify with and ensure that, but for their crippling connectivity, everyone can willingly participate. Notwithstanding, it is hoped that through a long-standing and important relationship, with our Social Value ‘thought-leaders’ Liz Obertelli and Toni Eastwood OBE, we will seek to address this in time over the coming months, commencing in 2021.



A demand-led perspective of Surveying need:


Through an intense itinerary and huge swathe of conversations during 2020, spanning the footprint of the Commonwealth, a number of ‘preferred’ Surveying pathways have arisen as key areas of potential growth; Cost Management (or Quantity Surveying) being the critical and most significant driver of interest followed sharply by Valuation, Project & Development Management and finally Building Surveying / Facilities Management. Sustainability (as part of the wider ESG conversation) has also been cited as an over-arching theme of interest and likely to remain an area of strong support and growth, that will touch upon and be baked into every RICS Pathway that we support across the globe. It has been heartening to observe the pent-up demand for knowledge and sector expertise, particularly across the African continent, where climate change is becoming increasingly, better understood and appreciated by the younger generation.


As a direct consequence of the key strengths and breadth of professional expertise maintained by the DCS Main Board – and seen as a natural next step – a number of our ‘more active’ DCS Ambassadors / Project Sponsors, who themselves are qualified RICS APC Assessors, have ‘stepped-up’ and propelled the manifestation of this global strategy into a number of meaningful conversations.


Discussed at length, the general idea is to embark upon a collection of the ‘low-hanging’ fruit, which is further articulated in the form of a series of intended ‘country-specific’ actions, recognising the critical role that the AssocRICS qualification will play:


Our themed approach will include:

- Recruitment of at least 53 trained and experienced Assessors / supervisors across our operation footprint;

- In the spirit of ‘ubuntu’ – offer mentorship to potential candidates on the acceptable terms and conditions to be applied when they are successfully qualified, where they #giveback and support a candidate; hence a circular economy and sustained legacy


Support members:

- Create better awareness [and implementation] of RICS Standards and Practice Statements.

- Conduct quarterly webinars in conjunction with local associations

- Assess and map-out recognition of local qualification for AssocRICS membership






Notwithstanding, in a bid to support a genuine increase in both student and AssocRICS membership, DCS have elected to return to basics and work on the ground with existing ‘grass-roots initiatives’ and established networks all of whom share a common denominator; an aspiration to raise their professional knowledge, standards and international awareness of the global Surveying profession. The sharing of knowledge and best practice, “by Surveyors for Surveyors” remains at the core of what we do; the key objective being the genuine capacity building of the individual, in pursuit of their “individual potential” _ hence upholding and building upon the DCS corporate moniker.



“Always expect the unexpected. If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, nothing good lasts forever, we are all here for a short while, let’s be kind and do as much good as humanly possible _ #GoodKarma” _ Abisogun OBE



A tangible and scaleable example of a ‘DCS conversation’ took place twice with members of the Nigerian Surveying community. The first instigated by Ayodele Faleye MNIQS, Chairman of the Young QS Forum of Nigeria, and the second with RICS Nigeria. That such an eclectic and large group of Surveying professionals are keen to expand their influence beyond the borders of the Continent’s most populous country, remains an inspiration that is most worthy of attention and support.





Chaired by Mr Gbenga Ismail FRICS, following kind invitation by Ms Annette Oke MRICS _ a panel discussion was convened with Bola as a panellist during a discussion called Technology Infusion in Real Estate, a truly global conversation took place with multiple perspectives received from those listed below.





The video of the landmark webinar can be seen here.





“The current, global pandemic has demonstrated the increasing role that technology has and will continue to play in our everyday lives. Technology will also play a more prominent and important real in the design, construction and asset management of the ‘global’ built environment” _ Abisogun OBE



The outline DCS Commonwealth Strategy:


From initial conversations in September 2019 with two senior, well respected Black professionals, allied to the profession; Diane Dumashie FRICS and Uche Obi FRICS, both with time served on RICS Governing Council, we are keen at DCS - via our Founder and Chair, Bola Abisogun OBE - to meet the global demands of our members, the challenge of which has been made somewhat palatable by the RICS’ “Digital First” approach.


So what does the new ‘DCS Commonwealth Strategy’ entail?


Well, firstly via our soon to be formed DCS Africa Board via our Project Sponsors: Sheila Kaijuka MRICS and Allan Lwanga MRICS, we are in the process of undertaking a detailed SWOT analysis of the various existing groups in key locations identified by our teams. Moving forward we will aim to proffer a multi-layered conversation starting with existing curricula, whilst attempting to future-proof both the validity and applicability of those same career offers.


To this end, we will also consider the following:


  1. Creating better access to RICS APC / AssocRICS level study material;

  2. Establish a formal mentorship programme that [promotes soft skills and] can be linked to and supported by other local businesses [commercial opportunities may also be procured through such forums];

  3. Convene a more substantial support network for RICS Accredited Universities within and across the Commonwealth;

  4. Hold virtual round table meetings on current (industry) affairs and key issues. This collaborative approach will focus on and generate and foster inter-regional / country-wide participation by younger Surveyors;

  5. Host an international speakers forum to address and inspire the young surveyors [an example of this would be to facilitate and extend the UK conversations that DCS have supported, led by Sean Tompkins, RICS CEO and/or the current RICS President, Kathleen Fontana FRICS];

  6. Develop a clear drive with multi-faceted engagement across Sub-Saharan Africa and engage with industry partners keen to explore this emerging talent pool through wider, targetted CSR support



For those locations where RICS has already established a presence, we will aim to build on that, and where we are starting from a first-principle position of member demand we will work with the existing eco-system led by the local professional group(s) and/or individuals. Either way, we will aim to compliment [and stretch] the existing RICS methods and processes with a view to preparing as many as possible for the main event, the RICS APC.






We are also setting ourselves an ambitious goal; given the massive populations in these areas, specifically across Sub-Sahara African. As stated previously, current global membership at RICS stands at circa 134,000 and we will aim to support consistent double-digit growth in the overseas ‘Commonwealth’ footprint stated above; the predominant growth area being across Sub-Saharan African.


From our own research allied to that of the RICS themselves; please refer to the RICS Report ‘Unleashing Sub-Saharan Africa Property Markets’_ Sept 2014; we are aware of the significant focus and growing pipeline of major infrastructure projects and the origins of such planned investment, principally domiciled in the West and Middle East. It is a well documented fact that RICS standards are expected by [any and all of] the informed members of this investment community and therefore, the challenge has been established for the local, indigenous professional to raise their own professional standards and compete for many of the lucrative client instructions. DCS will play a strategic role in brokering partnerships between various parties.





We are genuinely excited by the potential for DCS to support RICS growth in areas across the globe, where historically, market penetration has proved difficult and infrequently, wholly unsustainable. As mentioned before, sector wide innovation, technology and disruptive business models will also have a critical role to play and, will likely afford many of the emerging economies to literally, ‘leapfrog the West’, from where the ‘standards and best practice’ themselves have originated. Interesting and exciting times ahead indeed; so please hold tight, and don’t blink too soon. This paradigm shift, along with the introduction of 4IR technology, has to be observed, enjoyed and documented by all, preferably in real time.


From all of us at DiverseCity Surveyors, we wish you a safe, healthy and deservedly prosperous 2021.