RICS spoke with Nelly Mbugua, OGW, MRICS, Managing Director of Citiscape Valuers & Estate Agents Ltd, about her career as a surveyor and her experience as the first woman to serve as Deputy President of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya.
What attracted you to the built environment as an industry to work in?
The presence of tall commercial buildings always fascinated me as a child and I remember wondering why they did not fall over, despite hosting many people, over time. This interest stayed with me throughout high school where I became aware of and was attracted to professions such as architecture and land surveying.
More specifically, why did you choose to become a surveyor?
Thereafter, a mentor and friend at the University of Nairobi undertaking a course in Land Economics (now Real Estate) helped me clarify my career path further. I therefore placed real estate at the top of my career choices, with architecture and law as backup options. As it turned out, I got an admission to pursue Land Economics.
How does it feel for you being the first woman to serve as Deputy President for the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya?
It is such an honour to serve my institution and the country in this capacity. My election as Deputy President of ISK demonstrates that our institution has come of age, and gender is no barrier to service. I am well aware that there are a few other women who previously vied for top positions, and I am privileged to stand on their shoulders as we enhance gender parity in professional organisations in Kenya.
How do you think professional bodies like RICS and the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya create more opportunities and attract more diverse talent into the industry?
Decisions about what professions to become are mostly made in high school. Accordingly, it is important for organisations like RICS and ISK to reach out and align themselves with high schools and institutions of higher learning to raise their profile and expound to potential surveyors the range of professions in the built environment for their consideration. Also, bodies like RICS and ISK should be consistently involved in public discourse and bring their expertise to speak to pressing needs in the community. This way, young people will view RICS and ISK leaders and their professionals as to be emulated, hence the desire to join the organisations.
In addition, RICS and ISK need to abridge the pathways to membership for new members, create an enabling environment for growth for those members that may feel disadvantaged in any way and provide leadership opportunities to the upcoming surveyors.
The institutions need to enhance research to keep in stride with and meet the changing needs of the dynamic and variously talented surveyors. It’s important that the institutions embrace and manage change to be able to attract and retain diverse talents.
What is your advice to those early in their surveying career or considering a career in surveying?
In Kenya, a bachelor's degree in land surveying, geomatics, real estate, construction management or a related field is typically the starting point to a surveying career. Preparing well in advance for the appropriate courses is important.
To the newly qualified graduates, there is a wide range of well-paying jobs in the built environment and the industry is looking out for exemplary talents to reward. I therefore, strongly encourage them to serve under an experienced surveyor who can mentor them and bring them up to speed with industry practices, to enable them excel. My story is what it is today because of great professional mentors that believed in me and gave me a solid foundation.