After years of valuation and tax experience in the UK, Nicola embarked on a backpacking trip to Australia, where, after running out of funds, she started her own firm. What was she thinking? Nicola tells us in her own words.
I grew up in Leyland, an industrial town in the north of England famous for its trucks. At 14, I did two weeks’ work experience in the architects’ office at the local council, and it instilled in me a love of all things building. I remember designing the toilets of a bomb shelter, inspecting the foundations of a new house, and receiving a parting gift — my first scale rule.
In 1990 I studied urban policy and society and government at Aston University. I was fascinated by how the urban environment impacted on the whole fabric of society. Three years later, I was sponsored by the Valuation Office (VO) to do a postgraduate degree in property valuation at Sheffield Hallam University, with the promise of a full-time job at the end. The next year, I moved to London to start at the Kensington and Chelsea office of the VO. Even better, the district valuer I worked for was an APC assessor, who would set up mock interviews to prepare me for my APC. It was a perfect starting point for RICS membership.
The career break
After four years at the VO, I joined Arthur Andersen, where I gained a tax qualification and learned a lot of quantity surveying skills. But after a few years, I needed a break. So I went backpacking in Australia, and when I ran out of funds, a local capital allowances practice in Sydney gave me a job. Two years later, I started my own firm with three colleagues. In retrospect, what was I thinking? I hadn’t been in Australia for long and didn’t have many contacts. However, in 2011 we sold our business to MBM.
Day to day, I look after our national team of tax assessors, building surveyors and asset accountants. This includes planning growth and developing new services. I really love spending time with clients, helping come up with ways to meet their specific requirements.
Many traditional surveying tasks are being replaced by advances in technology. This means we need to be more focused on providing high-level expertise to help our clients understand the results and data if we want to remain relevant. I’m trying to build a team of people who understand this and the changes our industry is going through.
This is an excerpt from Modus Asia Edition, Q2 2017
Photo by Agi Davis