top of page

RICS help DCS to promote Digital Construction Pathway to Young Black Men

This day, on Sunday 30th August, back in 1998, I recall vividly that I was still in the office of my Employer [who will remain anonymous], in fact I had been in the office all weekend – having driven up to Central London, and parked right outside their iconic building in Victoria. I left my car, without a parking permit – checking the car intermittently to ensure that I avoided a parking ticket – and managed to get some fresh air too.

That weekend reminded me of the dark evenings where, after ‘my days’ at the College of North East London Tottenham, I spent ‘my evenings’ as a Security guard, at a massive construction site, performing my shift for Burns International Security Services, from 7pm until 7am, over in what has since become the infamous Canary Wharf estate.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

· But why was I there, in the office over the ‘entire’ Bank Holiday weekend?

· Why did I drive upto Central London and do 3 x all nighter [and yes, I slept in the office over the weekend too, partly in my chair and occasional on the cold, carpet tiled, concrete floor].

Well, I have complete transparency [and recollection] of the events that transpired that weekend; my clarity is so explicit, that it has both caused and inspired me to write and share this post exactly one month, in advance, of another ‘key event’ that is about to hosted by my professional body, the RICS with unfailing support from the Mayor of London.

Credit: RICS

Just for the record – and the wider ‘global’ DCS audience / readership – I was in the office that weekend attempting to complete my own APC submission – for the first time, all on my own, with no supervisor OR counsellor, no structured training plan and no ‘real (free) support’ from either the RICS and/or my Employer at that time. I did my best to prepare, which seemed to take forever and had no time to even ‘proof-read’ OR ‘post’ my submission; in fact, I had already ‘mentally’ prepared myself for the long drive to Coventry.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

So, on Monday 31 August 1998, I jumped in my 2dr Racing Green, BMW 320iSE and drove all the way to Coventry, with my bounded submission placed safely on the passenger seat. I felt a sense of pride that I had completed it, and it seemed like a long drive there, but a very short drive back to London, probably because I [literally floored it back and] opened up my 6 cylinder in celebration; I still smile and remember it as though it was yesterday.

I am not sharing this post to kick, put-down, name and/or shame, anyone but the point I am making is a very simple one. In any professional pursuit, we all need third-party support and encouragement; we need to be kind and offer to help each other; now so, more than ever with the young people, and in particular young Black men in a post-pandemic world.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

By the way, I failed the APC on that, my first attempt and initially decided to never sit it again, but after speaking to and being consoled by my Mother, I changed firm and took a year to prepare. A year later, having worked on the Millennium Dome in North Greenwich, literally a stones throw from Canary Wharf, I passed my APC in December 1999.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

So, having connected with other Black surveyors who had shared similar lived experiences [most of whom were of Nigerian descent and remain overseas til this day; Akin, Dele, Giles, Hakeem, Robert, Stephen, Tayo, Wale and so many others] I decided to set up DiverseCity Surveyors, in 2005/06.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

Every single one of my peers, genuinely thought I was crazy, and ‘my why’ has not changed at all and is completely aligned to ‘my purpose’ which, today is ‘to unapologetically Serve others [and positively disrupt the established norms]’. Yes, I am on a mission, so please don’t stand in the way if His work.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

Raised on LEGO as a child on the Kingsmead Estate in Hackney East London, and a 1994 graduate of the Latham era, extolling the benefits of ‘Constructing the Team’ _ I truly love construction, wh ich has always been my first love.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

To be able to pick up and infuse my 1994 thesis , ‘neural networks’ [AI; artificial intelligence] and hyperlinked expert systems [Machine Learning]; into current day 2022 terminology in the form of BIM enabled, data-driven, intelligent workflows, in pursuit of the now legal requirement called the ‘Golden Thread’ using digital twins, is a truly humbling milestone and one that I simply have to share with the non-traditional talent pool. It’s a new dawn and a new era for construction.

Recently appointed to sit on the ‘hugely influential’ City of London Taskforce, launched on the 4th July 2022, we have been mandated to define and deliver the agenda known as Skills for a Sustainable Skyline; at DiverseCity Surveyors, we are unapologetically conflating the Net-Zero Agenda, Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0 [Digital Construction], #Fintech, #Contech, #Proptech, #DigitalTwins along with the wider Skills Shortage and the [cultural challenge of the age-old] Diversity, Equity and Inclusion agenda.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE / City of London Corporation

That is what the ‘award winning, Moving On Up ‘MoU’ initiative is seeking to challenge and achieve, and since I began my role as Chairman of the MoU Advisory Group [since July 2013] I can tell you, it’s been an extremely challenging journey, with more lows than highs. I have suddenly realised that I have mor talker than doers in my eco-system, but I do have some allies who have decided to step up, so it’s not all bad – as the coming months will attest.

Credit: Bola Abisogun / RICS

However, once again, and even though I am reminded everyday, in my professional life, that being good is simply not enough, I/we have to give credit where it is due. The RICS has, at least within the last decade or so, been much more supportive [although not without error]; but she is a body that even after a 154year existence, is keen to do things [in post-Bichard Review] much better than they have in the past. Young Black men deserve to be a part of the future of the RICS and the wider sector too; after all the skills shortage is inclusive, right?

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

Care of our Interim Chief Executive Richard Collins OBE, via Sybil Taunton, the recently appointed Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with the Mayor of London and select Senior Officers at the GLA, have elected to host our next milestone and celebratory event, to be held in person on 28th September 2022 at RICS HQ, Parliament Square.

You can secure your [free] tickets here.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE

And finally, with ‘Africa Rising’ and such a HUGE population of young talent to equip with #digitalskills …….. I very much look forward to continuing to support the first ever, female President of the RICS, Louise Brooke-Smith OBE #PPRICS. And as we begin to mobilise, engage with and augment every University across the Continent, currently delivering the ‘built environment as an academic offer’ the ‘African Agenda’ will continue to yield much for the wider Construction Industry Council; more to follow on that front as work proceeds, over the coming months.

Credit: Bola Abisogun OBE / CDBB

DiverseCity Surveyors, working with industry leading colleagues at Action for Race Equality, look forward to welcoming and meeting you on the day, which for me is all about young people [16 – 25years] and in particular / on this occasion, young Black men _ who are keen to consider a career in Digital Construction.


bottom of page