Rebecca Nutt | Atelier Capital Partners
Forging ahead with goals and ambitions that can at times seem impossible pipe dreams is a unifying theme among BLD’s Diamonds, and none more so than Rebecca Nutt. Sat at her desk in an estate agency, she knew she wanted more from property than selling houses. “I realised there was a whole other side to the property industry out there and knew I wanted to get involved”, she recalls.
Nutt asked one of the developers whose projects she was selling for some advice. He told her to look into building surveying, as she’d never be out of work, “because buildings always needed to be maintained”. But the path forward was difficult, and more crucially, expensive. For the Masters in Building Surveying she needed, before she could make the leap from showing prospective buyers around 1 bed flats to actually advising on their structure, she had to save – hard. “I needed £17,000, before I could leave my job and sign up for the one year full time Masters,” she recalls, totting up the hefty bill to realise her ambition to become a surveyor – course fees (£6,000), exorbitant London rent, living costs and transport for the year out.
She did it of course – then on graduation went to get her RICS accreditation exam and become chartered – showing a level of commitment to her chosen path that few could dispute makes her an asset to any firm lucky enough to have her on board. But Nutt isn’t very interested in looking back, because she has her eye on the future of her profession. Asked what the current biggest challenge is she says “recruitment”. “Finding suitably experienced surveyors is a struggle as fewer and fewer surveyors are entering the industry,” she says. She is advocating for RICS to do more to push its apprenticeship route, because, despite her hard won graduate entry to the profession, she knows she picked up the best knowledge on site. “Looking back I learnt a lot more on the job than I did at university,” says Nutt. Apprenticeships are also a lot cheaper to achieve for the student than a masters, which would expand the pool of candidates to a more diverse group. “You don’t need a degree to be a good surveyor, you need good hands on, practical training. If I could have been offered a chance to earn while I learned without any student tuition fees I would have grabbed it,” she says.
Far from pulling up the ladder behind her, she wants to build a longer ladder. Nutt wants the profession promoted more to secondary school leavers and for surveying firms to adapt to take on this level of employee. Meanwhile, she’s also looking at what can be done at the other end of the experience spectrum, to bring together those on their way in and those on their way out of the profession in a solution to its recruitment problem that is as elegant as it is holistic. “There is a lack of appreciation for older surveyors. It’s mad to think that when someone retires we just let them walk out the door and take 40 years of knowledge and experience with them,” she says. Instead she is proposing a system where retired surveyors, if they wanted to, could be retained one or two days a week to help train juniors who need their work checked constantly when starting out and already qualified surveyors, who need to chase fees and targets, don’t have the excess time to dedicate to it. “It seems the perfect match if only we as an industry could get organised to set it up,” says Nutt.