top of page

DCS Chair _ "with tech, you fail fast and learn quickly!"

This piece has been inspired by conversations with industry colleagues over at Ryder Architecture including Mark Thompson [Managing Partner] and Graham Kelly [Director, BIM Academy]. Specific reference is made to their ‘intriguing’ publication called Reinvention _ for an exceptional Construction Industry [published, 30 May 2018], copy supplied _ Abisogun OBE

“The prize is enhanced performance in a healthier atmosphere. It will involve deeper satisfaction for clients. It will lead to a brighter image and better rewards for a great industry” _ Latham, Constructing the Team, 1994

A proud July graduate of the Latham era, I was and remain completely aligned to the contents of the ‘Constructing the Team’ report that was published in the same year (1994), and which articulated the ‘fragmented and adversarial nature’ of the construction industry. Latham pointed to ‘teamwork and fairness’ as the keys to helping clients achieve the high-quality projects that they desire. In fact, I started my own professional career in November 1994 as a graduate PQS at Franklin & Andrews, whose City offices were located at Sea Containers House, Blackfriars in London.

Being a tech geek [aka ‘the mad scientist’], I got bored very quickly due to the lack of technological deployment and developed itchy feet, focussing my interest on my first love, the process of getting things built, essentially as a contractor. But yet, what the Latham report failed to acknowledge back then, in any great detail, was the ‘culture of the industry’; which in many ways remains toxic and largely, devoid of morality til this day [28.05.22].

So much so, that some 24years following its 1994 publication, many don’t know that my small business [Urbanis] was literally crushed to its knees [back in 2017/18] and my fragile, hand-picked #supplychain completely dismantled by the immoral conduct of an industry giant, yep, a morally bankrupt 'Tier 1' Main Contractor that is still winning work today, on the back of my own industry credentials, and who literally pushed me and my entire team to the wall, even after I actually brought them into the initial 5year ‘public sector’ framework opportunity. The modus operandi of the UK construction industry, even in a post-pandemic, post-Grenfell world, is still aspiring to deliver BAU, but it is clear for even the visually impaired, to see that ‘such a bankrupt’ model urgently needs to change; technology led, data-driven disruption is inevitable and coming down the tracks.

The real irony is that even after I had spent two-calendar years advising and ‘educating the Client’ on the need to use ‘a Smart Contract’ with Supply Chain friendly clauses, my well documented advice hit a lack of will to change or even dare to challenge the status-quo and quite literally fell on deaf ears along with questionable [even complicit] behaviours becoming the norm upon contract mobilisation, all of which ultimately led to the beginning of our demise. That same year [in 2017], as an industry, we were unable to prevent Grenfell, which was followed swiftly by the demise of industry behemoth Carillion. Both events took place after the publication of the infamous #ModerniseOrDie Report by industry legend [my mate] Mark Farmer. Having spent the last circa three years of my career on sabbatical at the Centre for Digital Built Britain ‘aka CDBB’ I have developed several digital twin ‘use cases’ and remain absolutely convinced that technology really does have a ‘positively disruptive’ role to play in moving the dial on all components of the multi-generational ‘cultural’ impasse and blatant ignorance. It’s time to fix our inherently broken industry, if we are to attract [and retain] the best talent that this industry desperately needs to grow and thrive.

To avoid complete implosion, the UK construction sector must introduce, monitor and ensure appropriate behaviours and ethics are sustained in seeking to drive much needed cultural change. After all, it’s still very much a people business and given that “people buy people”, culture competency and professional conduct is going to be a critical driver for change [and winning work].

However, despite the irreversible demise of my own business, I do hope and pray that all the known culprits are pleased with themselves at their successful destruction of 16years of my life’s work [duly recognised by Her Majesty QEII, and my honour presented by the Heir to the throne Prince Charles on 7th February 2019]. From what I am told, th same individuals continue to destroy the livelihoods of others and hide in shallow swamps, no doubt having sleepless nights. But here’s the thing, if they are [no doubt] reading this and know anything about ‘real-life’ – they must know that #Karma is both a wonderful and powerful thing and that the world revolves for a reason. It really is only a matter of ‘crunch’ time …….

Yes indeed, society owes you nothing and life isn’t fair. Another truth that I need to share, is that the unfortunate destruction of my business has also cost me [upon my second attempt] the #opportunity to become the first #Black President of the RICS too [many didn’t know that either] – losing out, at the very, very last stage – to the worthy incumbent SVP, Tina Paillet, who was publicly confirmed and elected this time last year. But, I’ve overcome that loss too, and now I’m ok with it, because I am much clear(er) on ‘my why’ and ‘my purpose’ _ which is to serve; even after successfully adjusting to life post-contractor, in the knowledge that this chapter is far from over. In fact, and more importantly, I now realise that I’ve done more than enough to ‘lead and influence’ the profession via my work at DiverseCity Surveyors, where I have successfully set the stage and opened the door for others, quite possibly for one of the shortlisted industry prospects detailed below, alllowing them to walk through, unencumbered …. #AlwaysInService

Credit: RICS

Now that I’ve got that additional weight off my chest, I’m asking all of my contacts at the various professional bodies / conference and events teams – who regularly approach me – to sincerely and continuously give the following #NextGen industry professionals a chance; whether it’s for speaking engagements, thought leadership written pieces, conferences, mentorship, or other ‘public-facing’ requirements – I believe they are ALL ready [diary permitting of course] and more than capable to deliver. In fact, I believe that they will ALL – at some point – outperform me and my efforts in years to come.

For the record, I won’t be running again for #PPRICS as the RICS SVP election process is absolutely tortuous, twice in three years is enough for any sane individual and I now know my lane; it’s just not meant to be. That said, I am however, hugely optimistic that within the next three to five years; the RICS will elect their first President, who will be a Chartered Surveyor of Black origin, so in hindsight, it's definitely going to be worth the pain that I have had to endure; as a humble servant and known industry disruptor.

So, starting with some of the amazing, strong, bold, determined and audacious Black women, within and across the [UK] Surveying profession:

And now for the ‘empathetic and culturally competent’ Black men:

From hereon in t’s all about #digitalconstruction and far from ‘goodbye’ from me – merely a ‘ciao for now’; as I choose to deploy over 30years of industry experience, deconstructing and rebuilding ‘a new business model’ from scratch. I’m aiming to unapologetically break the ‘broken model’ that broke me [and my team], using disruptive, data-driven, immutable, step-change technology _ whilst having fun working with an amazing team of fellow industry disruptors. Watch this space ……… nothing and everything is I’m-possible #bethechangeyouwishtosee #takenothingforgranted #bekind and always #servewithpurpose.


bottom of page