After leaving school at 16, I continued in full-time education for a further two years doing a National Diploma in Business Studies at college. My first job was as an Accounts Clerk at waste disposal firm, Biffa. I stayed in that role for about a year but soon realised that it wasn't a job I could see myself doing long-term so I started to look for other opportunities.
I focussed my job search on trainee roles as I was ideally looking for a company who would be prepared to invest in my learning and development; taking me on without necessarily having any previous relevant experience.
I was lucky enough to land a job as a Trainee Buyer at Lovell Homes, who were a large property developer at the time. They provided great training opportunities and funded my day-release courses. My first qualification gained was an ONC in Building Studies, after which I did the HNC. I then went on to study for the Chartered Institute of Building, which took a further three years studying, including evenings and weekends.
By the time I was 20 I was working on-site as a Materials Coordinator. I remember this bringing great rewards, both in terms of experience and personal development, as well as the benefit of being given a brand new company van, which for a young man was a real bonus! There's always some great characters on-site and plenty going on to get involved with making each day interesting.
After about a year and a half on-site I returned to the office having a six-month secondment to the Technical Department. I then settled working as a Buyer for a few years before Lovell's centralised its buying function in Birmingham. I was then offered the chance to transfer to another area of the business so I began a two-year stint as their Customer Care Manager.
I learned a great deal in that role and became very aware of building defects and the 'nuts and bolts' of building. It was a challenging role that required working closely with sub-contractors and other members of the build team, which I enjoyed and again extended my experience. Having spent time working in a number of disciplines within construction, I discovered that I enjoyed both the site and office environment so I decided to move into Surveying. I felt that this would enable me to work closer to the coal-face and would give me a wider view of the business, which I found appealing.
Lovell's supported my career ambitions and I soon took up an Assistant Surveyor role. It was an easy transition as I had spent a number of years dealing with the various departments, suppliers and subcontractors which had given me a good grounding. After a year as an Assistant, I progressed to become a Surveyor looking after my own projects.
I love the variety that the role of a Quantity Surveyor brings. Dealing with the various disciplines, and working on a number of developments that are all at different stages of build makes every day varied and keeps the job interesting. It's a great feeling being part of a team including, buyers, technical and site teams - who all come together to make a product we can all be proud of.
I spent eleven years at Lovell's in all before the recession brought the company to a close and I then spent eleven years as a Senior Surveyor at Bellway Homes being involved on sites around London, before working freelance for a number of small developers.
In 2010 I joined Shanly Homes as a Senior Quantity Surveyor, becoming Chief Surveyor in 2015 shortly before I took up the Head of department role in 2016. I am still very much involved in day-to-day Quantity Surveying but I now have additional responsibilities associated with leading a team of eight.
I have so far spent 33 years in the construction industry and my son has followed in my footsteps pursuing a career as a Quantity Surveyor.
To follow a career in Quantity Surveying you need to enjoy interaction with others, have great attention to detail, have a good head for figures and love creating a spreadsheet or two!
Chris Sutton MCIOB, who joined Shanly Homes in 2010, is Head of Commercial covering the Thames Valley Region.