Sarah Stickland project surveyor at Davis Langdon says it can be exciting working as a QS for the public sector

Sarah Stickland project surveyor at Davis Langdon

Since joining Davis Langdon as a non-cognate graduate four years ago, I have become part of a specialist team that works exclusively on projects that deliver improvements to public services. This means working in sectors such as justice, custody, homeland security, law enforcement and defence. In some of our projects our client will be the public body or government department itself, whereas in others, our immediate client is a private company providing a service in a PPP-style arrangement.

The external perception of working for clients such as the Home Office and Ministry of Defence (MoD) seems to be that it must be bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape. Certainly there is an element of the work that involves following processes and yes, there is a little bit of form-filling. After all, it is public money that is being spent on these projects, and therefore everything has to be scrupulously documented and auditable – literally "in the public eye". Suddenly phrases such as "project initiation document", "OJEU", "procurement strategy", and "value for money" have become part of my everyday language.

There are serious up-sides to all of this, of course. As someone who is really just starting out in my career, I have been involved with some completely new procurement methods, and on one project, involved with procuring all sorts of things, but not really any buildings! This is a strange new world for the QS profession and fantastic experience for me.

It’s also exciting to be working on projects that are of national importance and therefore regularly in the news headlines! When procuring something that has never been procured before, it is up to the commercial team (us) to contribute to the framework of processes which structure the project and start to bring the expectations and needs of the client to a more practical level that can be implemented.

The point at which a fairly hazy "big picture" starts to crystallise and become reality is a strangely satisfying moment!