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DCS Feature #1: Greg Wade MRICS MCIOB

As part of a new series called "Inspire by Desire", DCS have elected to shine a light on the pivotal stage of any Chartered Surveyor's career path; the Assessment of Professional Competence, otherwise known as the APC.

Through the lens of public perception, there is a clear distinction between a 'Surveyor' and a 'Chartered Surveyor'. With increasing demand on our 'pro-bono' service offer, at DCS we continue to engage with Surveyors, from all corners of the globe, and at all stages of their individual career journey; from school leavers to apprentices, under-graduates, post-graduates, recently qualified [post-APC], middle management and on the rare occasion, senior level practitioners in the UK.

Having caught wind of Mr. Wade's successful APC award in December 2020, our Founder and Chair, Bola Abisogun OBE FRICS, immediately reached out to Greg, both to congratulate him and make a simultaneous request. On the topic of #givingback, Greg was quick to respond and in his own words, share his journey with those coming behind him. We thank you for staying true to your word Greg; #ethicsmatter.

APC - My Journey _ by Greg Wade MRICS | MCIOB | CIHCM [Head of Capital Projects; THCH]

My involvement with the APC process has been a long and convoluted journey that was initiated when I moved to a multi-disciplinary practice in March 2015 and was promptly enrolled on Graduate Route Level 1 (Building Surveying pathway). I’d completed an MSc in Building Surveying in 2013, which had been undertaken part-time whilst working in both Planned and Reactive Maintenance for a Local Authority ALMO. My choice of course was principally driven by the fact that it was accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, meaning that the ‘holy grail’ of MRICS-status could become a possibility at some point in the future (following graduation). A number of tutors advised me and fellow classmates to start our APC diary at the earliest possible time, so that we could progress to the final assessment. The expectation and desire to become a Chartered Surveyor was born from the moment that I attended university on induction day.

Fast forward to March 2019. My APC diary had floundered, I’d changed jobs and I was still no closer to achieving my ultimate goal. Life had interceded in all kinds of ways. I’d had my first daughter with a second expected by the end of the year. I’d also been guilty of procrastinating in terms of my chosen pathway, veering from Building Surveying to Project Management and back again. Finally in June 2019 I started a new position as Senior Project Manager within a development consultancy and after reviewing my chosen competencies, felt that I would be ideally placed to pick up the baton once again. I took care to ensure that previous experience could be used to address my optional competencies fairly easily (experience of up to 6 years can be used in your submission). Ironically, due to the length of time that had elapsed since I first enrolled, I was now able to revisit my application route, which eliminated the need for structured training and a diary. This was based upon the fact that I had a RICS accredited postgraduate degree and had also accrued 10 years’ relevant experience. Psychologically this gave me a massive boost in terms of planning and managing the workload in respect of my submission.

For me the key aspect of the APC was planning and preparation. I was supported by an excellent counsellor who reviewed my competencies and case study 3 or 4 times and assisted me in terms of wording and sentence structure where needed. The RICS provide a number of really useful online workshops, which actually take you through the process of how to structure your submission. During these sessions you have the opportunity to share best practice with fellow attendees and raise questions with the presenter. All supporting materials are easily accessible online after the event.

I set myself the target of being ready to sit my final assessment in November 2020 and so I put together a 12-month study plan with key milestones. I started by researching available CPD courses and marrying them up with my core or mandatory competencies, particularly where I felt my experience could have been perceived as slightly weak. I started this process in October 2019 and it continued up until July 2020. I consider myself to be a pretty methodical and organised person and without structure I find that I can lose focus. I started writing my competencies in January 2020 and with a level of application which even I was surprised with, I found that by April I was already in a position to review complete drafts with my counsellor.

My choice of case study was a positive one, in that it related to a project which I had completed in June 2019 (just before I changed job). It was relatively fresh and I had little trouble in recounting the level of detail needed. I had also retained a couple of useful contacts including the Architect and the Contracts Manager, who very kindly helped to fill in any blanks that I identified. I chopped and changed it at least half a dozen times (my counsellor advised me this was perfectly normal), but the RICS workshops that I attended on this subject were excellent in illustrating exactly what the assessors would be looking for. I would strongly advise any APC candidate to ensure that they book their place as an absolute must.

By May 2020 I was in a position to start revising and it was here that I hit a blank for a few weeks while I struggled to get a grasp on this monumental task. My saviour: isurv. Due to the ongoing pandemic the RICS publicised an offer for unlimited access until the end of the year. This provided me with a bible for a study programme. I organised my competencies into electronic folders and then trawled through isurv for the next few weeks, skim reading, downloading and sorting my revision material into manageable chunks. This provided me with a practical framework, which enabled me to structure my intensive learning as required.

Probably the most challenging aspect of the process was psychologically preparing for the final assessment. I’ve had a fair amount of experience in terms of presenting and talking publicly within my various roles, but nothing quite prepares you for the experience of being seated in front of the panel. I practised my presentation obsessively, which was tweaked and refined countless times until I’d reached a point of personal satisfaction. Mock assessments were also essential from my perspective (I had 4 formal mock sessions with RICS trained assessors). I found these invaluable, in terms of boosting my confidence, enhancing composure and honing my ability to think and respond calmly in a professional setting.

My experience of the final assessment was actually a very positive one. The Chair did an excellent job of keeping me relaxed and the panel were all engaging. I had the unusual experience of completing my assessment online via MS Teams, but I took care to approach it in exactly the same way as if it were being conducted in person. The week spent waiting for the result was agonising, I must have replayed my answers to the assessors’ questions a thousand times in my head. However, the feeling of elation when I got the good news was like no other.

Achieving MRICS status is undoubtedly the highlight of my professional career. It was undeniably a huge amount of work and commitment, but it represents the gold standard of the industry for a reason. From my perspective it can only be onwards and upwards from here.


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