Tim Johnson trained as a QS but quickly took a career swerve into an emerging sector

M&E quantity surveying is an expanding area, isn’t it?

Yes, I regularly hear that there are not enough of us out there. And as more buildings take advantage of IT, the demand for people like us will keep growing. For example, wherever you have a lot of computers, the temperature rises and suddenly you get a demand for air-conditioning. You need someone to do the evaluations and look at price variations. That’s why more of the big players are starting to develop M&E sectors.

So did you have a cunning plan to get into a growth sector?

Not really. It was just the way things panned out. After I left school, instead of going to university I got a job at Shepherd Engineering in Northampton and studied one day a week for a degree in quantity surveying at the University of Central England in Aston, Birmingham. I did that for two years, but unfortunately the course wasn’t for me. I was living in Northampton, so if I had a problem with anything I couldn’t just go and see the lecturer. I struggled a bit. However, the job with Shepherd made me aware of M&E quantity surveying.

Presumably you still needed a degree?

Yes. Because my difficulty with the first course was one of time and distance, I enrolled on another bricks-and-mortar course at University College, Northampton – close to where I live. Even though it was a full-time course, I was only in college two or three days a week, so I was able to carry on working. I was offered a part-time job at F Maitland Partnership, so even though it wasn’t part of my course I could develop my interest in M&E quantity surveying.

I’ve heard M&E quantity surveying is still regarded as something of a black art. Have you found that?

Oh yes. Many’s the time I have gone to a main contractor and they say, “Blimey, don’t go there!” People find it scary.

Would you ever think about returning to regular quantity surveying?

Yes, if the opportunity arose. The only thing that concerns me is that all my work experience is in the M&E sector. My knowledge of bricks and mortar is all theory. The other thing is, I’ve just been promoted, so it would be kind of a backward step.

What are your long-term aims?

I want to move up North – I love the Lake District. Luckily Haley Somerset has offices in Manchester and Leeds, so it needn’t mean an abrupt career change!

Tim Johnson

Age 26
Employment history Became an assistant M&E quantity surveyor at Haley Somerset after university. Has just been promoted to QS
Qualifications A-levels in economics, pure and applied mathematics and physics; BSc in quantity surveying; has just become a member of the RICS
Lives In Northampton
Family Is getting married later this year