Emma-Kate Ryan, graduate quantity surveyor, Faithful+Gould
Q Has the year since you started in construction lived up to expectations?
A It has definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways. My start in the industry coincided with a move to London so I am very happy now, living and working in the city.
Q Have you achieved what you said you wanted to in the time?
A I have achieved more than I would have expected to achieve, although my career has taken a different course than I thought it would. I envisioned working in contract administration but have mostly been working on high level benchmarking and estimating. I have, and continue to, contribute articles for publication with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. So it has been very fulfilling.
Q What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your job?
A The learning curve involved in preparing high level strategic estimates really challenges me, as the technology and engineering aspects of work on rail and infrastructure projects are unfamiliar to me at times.
Q In your experience so far, does the industry encourage and nurture new talent?
A I think in certain sectors it does; I am very lucky to work in the consultancy arena where I feel this encouragement is more widespread. I have met several industry leaders who have taken an interest in my views and advised me on my career path – it is reassuring to have input from those who have excelled in their own careers.
Q What’s your view on the government appearing to backtrack on green built environment policies such as the zero carbon target, the Green Deal, and subsidies for wind farms and solar power?
A It’s not correct for the government to backtrack on promises made in any arena, but it is important to view reduction in subsidies, for example, in context. Reductions in subsidies have been made for renewable energy as previous subsidies have substantially driven the R+D and implementation costs of wind and solar farms down – and the outputs of these farms is now being paid for by the consumer, generating revenue for these suppliers. Of more concern to certain players within the energy industry will be the imbalance of funds directed towards different types of energy, nuclear for example, which is currently seen to garner more financial support from the government. This again should be viewed in context of the type of energy produced by nuclear reactors and its reliability as an energy source for the future, versus offshore windfarms, and so on. I believe nuclear energy to be a worthwhile investment, and support projects like Hinkley Point C; I especially believe in investment in nuclear fusion, and projects like ITER, in the south of France.
Q Do you sense clients are less interested in sustainability following the recent policy shifts?
A In my experience, clients are generally interested in the sustainability and whole life costs of their own assets, rather than generalised cuts to higher level initiatives or policies. I think this is the right way to approach a more sustainable and environmentally-responsible society – where each asset is sustainably constructed in such a way that we change from the bottom up, rather than imposing targets from the top down. Clients tend to be more socially responsible as they recognise the benefits of having a sustainably-constructed asset that will have greater longevity and lower running costs, rather than focussing on which targets the government needs to meet, and what they can do to help them.
Q Has the attitude of your firm to sustainability changed at all?
A Faithful+Gould has always been dedicated to keeping up to date with the latest movements in the industry, and sustainability is no different. Our attitude has not changed, as the longevity and sustainability of the built environment is something we are passionate about. We continue to meet our client’s expectations of service with our team of sustainability specialists.
Q Will you get a summer holiday? If so, where?
A I have been to Portugal for a week earlier during the summer, and it was a nice holiday. I will go home to Ireland at the end of August for another quick break, and to catch up with family and friends.