Have you always been interested in the built environment?
Yes, I grew up hearing about houses as my dad invested in property, so it was always of interest to me. I’ve been exposed to it from a young age as he knew a lot about the industry. After school I actually went to study law but quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. I wanted something that was more hands-on, so decided to study real estate at the University of Westminster.
How was the real estate course?
I really enjoyed it. It gave me an excellent grounding in lots of different aspects of surveying, including valuation, investment, sales and leasing, and asset management. Getting a broad understanding of all these areas was invaluable and helped me work out which one I wanted to focus on in my career.
Where has your career taken you so far?
Since university I’ve spent time at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and BLG, who provides property development funding for commercial and residential projects. After my degree and time at VOA, I realised that the finance side of surveying was where my passion lay, so I signed up for the Finance and Investment APC pathway.
For me, becoming chartered was a no-brainer. Having those MRICS letters after your name gives clients confidence in your work and expertise. It’s given me a massive sense of achievement and helped me take the next steps in my career.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I still have so many aspects of surveying to explore and am keen to expand my knowledge further. One day I’d like to have my own property funding and development consultancy that could help businesses, large and small, obtain the finance they need to get projects started.
Why would you recommend going into surveying?
It’s such a fascinating time to be in real estate: everyone is talking about it. With our changing shopping habits and the evolution of the high street, it’s going to be exciting to be involved in such a relevant and current sector. Property is entwined in so many areas of our lives, without us even realising it. I look forward to being part of what happens next.
Although it’s changing, the industry is still quite male-dominated. How did you feel as a young woman entering the profession?
I was welcomed at VOA; there were a lot of women in my grad scheme. I’d encourage more to join as the more women that come in, the smaller the gap gets. There are a lot of men at the top of the big surveying businesses but you can see women moving up now, which I find inspiring. There are definitely lots of opportunities to do well and go far in the industry.
What advice would you give to young adults considering going into surveying?
- Ask yourself if you want to be part of a future-thinking industry. It’s all going to change so much over the next few decades with new technology and our changing environments. This is really exciting for me as it presents the chance to get involved in the new age of surveying.
- Choose a RICS-accredited degree. By studying the Westminster real estate course, I knew I was getting the very best and latest knowledge, which put me in good stead when I was doing interviews and applying for jobs. When employers see a RICS-accredited degree on your CV, they know it’s a good sign you could be a strong candidate.
- After your degree, get your chartered status. I’m not going to lie, it is hard work but it’s totally worth it for the sense of satisfaction you get and you’ll be looked upon more favourably for more senior positions. It’s a great way to move up the career ladder. Also, although money isn’t everything(!), the stats say that you can get a 21% higher salary if you are chartered. That’s a definite plus point!
Read more about Iram’s APC journey