Rider Levett Bucknall Continues to Recruit and Develop Talent in the Recession

If you want fresh ideas on surviving the recession, where do you turn? Rider Levett Bucknall decided to seek the views and opinions of some very new faces indeed, as it asked contenders in its Protégé recruitment competition for their suggestions on how RLB could continue to succeed in the global economy.

Now in its third year, RLB’s Protégé 2009 competition is continuing to seek the brightest graduates to join the UK business, and building on its reputation as one of the most innovative employers in the business. Protégé 2009 combines a rigorous selection process with a unique opportunity for graduates to engage with senior management and set themselves apart from the crowd.

This year was presented perhaps the toughest choice yet for Chairman David Bucknall and recruitment manager Stephen Reilly. There were over 1000 visitors to the Protégé 2009 website, where applicants faced some practical numerical and business challenges. More than 150 decided to submit a formal application, 60 made it through to a telephone interview and 20 were invited to RLB’s London offices for the assessment centre. The short-listed applicants were set a range of numerical and verbal aptitude tests, group work and one-to-one exercises and asked to give a five-minute presentation on either the economic, social or environmental consequences of the slowdown.

If the process sounds a little daunting, there is a very enticing prize at stake. The three successful applicants will have the chance to work on prestigious projects worldwide, including the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Phoenix Convention Centre in Arizona, the International Financial Centre in Hong Kong, LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore and the Macallen Building in Boston, Massachusetts.

They may also take courage from some inspiring success stories. Protégé 2007 winner Paavan Popat joined the London project management team and is now working on retail and sports stadium developments in emerging markets such as India. Andrew Mason, who won the competition in 2008 and joined the Manchester building surveying team, has already had the chance to travel the world, visiting the Shanghai, Boston and Toronto offices.

The most challenging part of the day was the presentation, but it’s also the section where graduates can most impress the judges. “We were surprised to find the depth and knowledge that the applicants had on the global economy and the issues affecting the UK market,” says Reilly. “There were some excellent ideas and presentations, which really shows the background and the calibre of the applicants.”

Peter Rigby suggested RLB should strive to make its name synonymous with sustainability, Marios Pastou suggested focusing on value to buck the trend for lower fees, Heather Muckley looked at successful companies and compared their ability to adapt with their strong relationships and wide client base and Richard Kaye talked about the “bang for buck” theory, where a pound spent at RLB should go further than a pound spent anywhere else. “We’re convinced that with the combination of our three Protégé competitions, our offer will be much strengthened in the tough economic market,” said Bucknall.

The next instalment of Protégé will see the finalists in action at RICS Headquarters competing for the final accolade of Protégé 2009 and will also showcase how RLB are using its youth team to develop drive and deliver its Corporate Responsibility Programme and help some of RLB’s major customers including Tesco deliver their carbon reduction programmes.