I was fortunate that my school in Harrow was very proactive in encouraging and assisting pupils into the working environment through the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) scheme. At 16 I went through the interview process via CITB at John Sisk - a well-known and established main contractor. I was delighted to be offered a position on their training scheme which involved placements within various areas of the business on a rotation system. Through this process I was assigned with a mentor who supported me throughout my first few years and I was able to gain valuable insight into a variety of disciplines.
After two and a half years my mentor and I discussed which field I would like to enter into full-time. Luckily we were both in agreement that buying was the path for me and henceforth I started my career as a trainee buyer.
John Sisk were great in supporting rising talent and progressed me through my ONC, HNC, CIPS and later, a degree in Facilities Management. I spent a happy 11 years with the company and progressed to senior buyer level. I left the company when they relocated their London operations to Manchester. Whilst they offered me the opportunity to relocate with them, as a young 'man about town' this wasn't something for me.
I then joined well-established retirement housebuilder, McCarthy and Stone as a senior buyer however after 6 years the country was in the grip of recession and the unfortunate decision to close the region I was working in was taken.
I was fortunate that I secured a senior buyer role at Fit Out UK who specialised in shop fit-outs for major supermarket brands. Despite the recession the company was thriving as there was an abundance of empty units that retailers were snapping up either cheaply or on fantastic lease terms. Whilst I enjoyed my time at Fit Out, my heart was really in construction so after 4 years, when the property market had sufficiently recovered, I returned to the industry in a senior buyer role here at Shanly Homes.
I've been here for 4 years now and I really enjoy the variation and involvement that I am afforded. Shanly Homes has such a diverse product range that my day to day work changes all the time. One day I might be procuring bricks for a development of over 100 apartments, the next sourcing bespoke door handles for a £2 million house.
My day starts at 8.30am and it is both challenging are rewarding at the same time. I work in a great team and everyone gets along really well. I also get to engage with so many different people not only within the business itself, but also with our external suppliers.
The great thing about Shanly Homes is the knowledge that if you work hard you will be rewarded for doing so.
To be a successful buyer you need to have attention to detail, be personable yet thorough and have good negotiation skills. It's an interesting and varied job which also offers time out of the office visiting sites.
Jonathan Durkan who joined Shanly Homes in 2013 is senior buyer for the Thames Valley Region.