Sammy Kingston is an apprentice at CBRE and co-founder of the Apprentice Network, a group whose aim is to give early-career surveyors the opportunity to meet others at the same stage through networking events. We spoke to him about surveying, apprenticeships and networking.
What attracted you to the property sector?
Having done work experience in different fields, I never enjoyed the others as much as property. I think the property sector is like no other, and the great thing about it is there are so many different aspects to it. Whether it’s offices, residential, retail or industrial, there are so many different types, and then you can get involved in investment, leasing or development. There are so many different aspects to it, and that makes it a great field to work in.
Why did you decide that an apprenticeship was the right path for you?
At school, I never knew what was necessarily going to be the best path for me. I did work experience at CBRE in the summer of my GCSEs and someone mentioned the apprenticeship scheme to me. When I actually researched what it was all about it and realised how great it could be, I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a great path to take.
I think apprenticeships work really well in property, especially if you start at a younger age because it gives you a head start in gaining important contacts and, of course, experience. I hope to qualify at the age of 21 with five years’ experience behind me. There is no other way you can do that apart from an apprenticeship.
What is a typical working day like for you?
The great thing about property is that no two days are the same! We are fortunate at CBRE that we get to rotate four or five times into different teams, so we gain loads of different experience in different departments. So far I have been worked with office leasing team, the retail agency team and now the investment team.
Some days I can be having meetings and inspections and be out of the office a lot of the day. Other days I can be writing a report or doing an investment cash flow analysis and at my desk most of the day – it really depends. Each day tends to bring something new, and that’s a reason I enjoy it so much.
What prompted you to create the Apprentice Network?
When I came into property, I started to realise how much of a sociable business it is. One thing I noticed was that every year, all the property companies recruit graduates and they come in knowing each other, whether it’s through university or a master’s course they did together. There are groups set up already for them to meet each other and network.
In November 2014, myself and Wale Sanusi, another CBRE apprentice, set up the Apprentice Network. We just had a light-bulb moment and thought it would be nice to get apprentices from different companies together. We spotted a gap in the market to create a group that would be dedicated to putting on great networking events for apprentices in property, and then eventually expanding to apprentices in other fields of work.
We are still amazed to this day how quickly people took to the idea, and throughout the last two-and-a-half years we’ve put on some really great events and achieved some great things.
What has been a career highlight, or your most interesting project so far?
I would have to say winning a Property Week Award last year was absolutely insane, and I still feel like it didn’t happen! I see the award at home and I pick it up sometimes to check it’s real.
Wale and I were shortlisted for Young Property Personality of the Year at the awards, but we never thought in a million years we would win – I was 19 and Wale 22, so you can imagine our genuine shock when our names were called as the winners.
We were both incredibly proud for ourselves and for the Apprentice Network. It’s something really special to be recognised by other people in property for the work you have done.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a role in surveying?
My dad always said to me “Work hard, play hard”, and it’s something that’s stuck with me, and I think it really applies to surveying. Surveying isn’t easy, but it is fun and enjoyable, and if you work hard then you will see great results. Then you can celebrate in the right way and meet loads of great people in the industry.
Hear more from Sammy Kingston in our Twitter Q&A.