Adam Withrington speaks to Derek Heffernan, Cyril Sweett's youngest associate QS, about moving to Madrid and the buzz – and anticlimax – of completing a project
What does your job entail?
It varies a lot due to the level of jobs that we do. I advise clients regarding the feasibility of their accounts and I also advise graduates in their work.

What are the hours like?
I normally get in between 8 and 8:30am and don't go home until about 6pm. I spend about two-and-a-half days a week in the office and the same on site. I appreciate the fact that I can get out and don't spend all week in an office. However, it's good to have a base to come back to and work from and I really like the atmosphere in the office, the people I work with, the jokes and the banter.

Is the job stressful?
No. I don't find it stressful, but I think you can let the job be stressful if you let things get on top of you. Obviously there are times when things become difficult, but you can't let them get you down. My most difficult jobs have been my biggest learning experiences.

What gives you a buzz in your job?
Seeing projects through to completion. I love the fact that I see the project when it is just drawings on paper and then help it on through until the moment it opens. I get a real buzz seeing people in the building that I helped build. I think: "That's my baby." Strangely, though, the end of a project can be a bit of an anticlimax. The end means that the team you have been working with so closely has to break up.

I would advise student QSs to spend time on site. A lot leave university without much idea about what actually happens

Are you looking forward to going to work in Madrid?
It will be the biggest challenge of my career so far, but it is an exciting challenge. I shall be doing the same job there that I do here, helping with training and supervising projects. My Spanish will get better, anyway.

What would be your ideal alternative career?
It would have to involve interaction with other people. Perhaps a sports superstar, like an international rugby player. Maybe Ronan O'Gara wouldn't mind swapping shirts.

Personal details

Current job
Associate quantity surveyor at Cyril Sweett
Previous jobs
Joined Cyril Sweett as a graduate surveyor in 1996, and became a fully qualified surveyor in 1998. Appointed associate in 2000
BSc from the University of Westminster
Leytonstone, east London
Lives with his partner
Claim to fame
Youngest associate at Cyril Sweett