RICS spoke with Natalie Chiku, MRICS. An Estate Surveyor at Hertsmere Borough Council, about her journey to becoming a surveyor.
What attracted you to the built environment as an industry to work in?
RICS spoke with Natalie Chiku, MRICS. An Estate Surveyor at Hertsmere Borough Council, about her journey to becoming a surveyor. I would love to say that surveying was my first choice, but this was not the case, as I was completely oblivious of the profession until I had completed my A-levels and gone off to university. I was accepted at the Royal Agricultural University to study Food Production and Supply Management, and that is where I became aware of their Real Estate course and the Surveying profession. Although I enjoyed my degree an interest was sparked toward the built environment and led to studying a master’s in real estate and becoming a surveyor. I was also attracted to concept of going into a career that didn’t mean I was chained to a desk 9-5, 5 days a week as well as the prospect of everyday not being the same. Buildings really interested me as they are something that all walks of life will always needs, all businesses will need and something that would be around forever.
More specifically, why did you choose to become a surveyor?
Growing up it was always assumed that I would go into a career that was highly regarded or allowed me to be part of a professional body. When researching “careers in property” I came across a range of paths, but chose commercial surveying as I felt that it gave the opportunities that I felt were in alignment with where is saw myself in the future, and allowed me to become a chartered professional.
Where do you see yourself professionally 5 and 10 years from now?
As it stands, right now I see myself working in a firm that is seen as a market leader allowing a variety opportunity. I would like to be working at a firm that provides a variety of clients, with diverse portfolios. I am hungry for new experiences to broaden my knowledge. I would also like to be in a position where I can be a role model for other black women/girls that are interested in surveying allowing them to take the leap and pursue their dreams.
How do you think the surveying profession can attract more diverse talent and create a more inclusive culture within the industry?
Sadly, this is a very hard question to answer as I feel if it were simple there would be diversity in all sectors off business.
- I feel that it is the responsibility of market leaders and the RICS, to change the preconception that you must look a certain way or have been privately educated to become a surveyor.
- Looking at hiring people that are interested in the career that may have not gone through the traditional/cognate route of education that normally allows people to consider training as surveyors and eventually becoming Members of the RICS.
- Making students aware of surveying and allowing them to see it as a viable career path to those that come under the Black and Minority Ethnicities bracket (BME) at an early stage. This could be done in several ways such as providing open days and attending school career days in schools located in areas where the demographic is predominantly made-up off those classed as BME. This would allow an education to students as well as their parents, opening the career path to so many more people. In turning ensuring the hiring of employees from diverse backgrounds. Whether it's through work experience while they are still in school, hiring apprentices from colleges, or hiring people as graduates. Programmes should be set up targeting those considered as to support students at earlier ages by introducing them to the career, educating them about the career as well as paying them well in process and ensuring that there isn’t a “glass ceiling”. There has been a lot of emphasis in various sectors including the built environment on hiring more females as there seemed to be a lack of gender diversity. This emphasis should be applied to ethnic diversity.
- Encouraging the progression of BME employees to senior positions and ensuring there isn’t a “glass ceiling” in terms of career progression. Too many times I have heard BME employees leaving a company as they just cannot have any career progression, people are overlooked for promotions in favour of their non-BME peers. I whole -hearted feel that this happens due to an unconscious bias, but if this isn’t acknowledged and addressed there will be no improvement in diversity.
What is your advice to those considering a career in surveying?
My simple advice is do it. You will never know if you like something unless you try it. If it turns out to be something that isn’t for you, you have the rest of your life to try something else.