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A Senior Quantity Surveyor’s key to success

Posted by: Anders Elite

An engaging, fast-track career undertaking major projects is the ambition of many starting out in construction. Georgia Byrne, Divisional Manager at Anderselite, spoke to Ronan Donaghey, to discover how he made rapid progress to Associate Director at the Commercial and Project Services Consultancy, Hargreaves Jones:

G: What is your current role?
R: I am currently an Associate Director at Hargreaves Jones. I work as a Commercial Manager across a number of projects and my role involves creating and delivering scopes for major clients within the oil, gas, utilities and nuclear sector. As a commercial manager I run dedicated teams of Hargreaves Jones staff, who are generally positioned within client companies. A key element in our success is that personnel become a seamless part of the client’s team for the duration of the project, taking on their values, beliefs and ultimately, delivering their goals.

G: How long have you been there and what position did you start in?
R: I started working for Hargreaves Jones just over three and a half years ago as a Senior Quantity Surveyor. My first post was as part of a specialist commercial team with responsibility to independently check and validate tender costs, submitted by the sub-contractor, before entry in a Lump Sum EPC contract. Based in Paris, this was an interesting and challenging role, working on one of the largest jobs in the world within the oil and gas sector.

G: What first attracted you to Hargreaves Jones?
R: I had spent two years working alongside members of Hargreaves Jones on a previous project and was really impressed with their knowledge, attitude and desire to do things in a proper way. I liked their business model, their commitment to strong leadership and, as we stayed in touch, was also impressed with the high-profile projects they were undertaking. All this meant I could see great potential for career advancement, so when an opportunity arose with Hargreaves Jones sometime later, I was happy to accept an SQS position.

G: Can you talk me through a typical day?
R: Part of the reason I love my job, and the construction industry, is that there are no typical days. However I could give you an example of the meetings I may hold in any one day. These could involve undertaking the technical evaluation for a tender, which has to be submitted with total accuracy, to an imminent deadline. This might be followed by a meeting with a senior quantity surveyor validating an awarded contract, to ensure all the boxes are ticked and details are correctly presented to the client. Further discussions could be held to review the key part of the scope and decide how best to Interface with the company, or to decide strategy and estimate costs. Client requests for amendments, ‘early warning process’ impacts, audit findings and legal applications are all regular topics covered by my team.

A typical day therefore involves business development, client interface and management of project scopes. We span the entire lifecycle of a construction project, so it’s usual to prepare the contract strategy, draft documentation, tender and procure necessary subcontract packages for the works, plus manage and administer these contracts during construction and close out the works alongside its commissioning. This offers a huge variety of work and an ever-changing focus towards our client’s end goal.

G: What has been the key to your success?
R: I think that cultivating strong relationships with the whole project team is important, to create a shared sense of trust and purpose. Hargreaves Jones aim to become almost an organic part of the client company. The closeness of this working partnership enables us to deliver a truly integrated performance. Many of our commissions are with blue chip companies who are engaged in the delivery of significant engineering, procurement and construction works. This dynamic and challenging environment can span several countries and, as a result, can throw up issues and challenges from time to time. However by simply working hard, offering support and expertise, reviewing and overcoming any problems together, we achieve a mutually successful result.

G: What do you think you’ve done differently to your peers?
R: We are lucky within our company to have some really great people who engender the company ethos and values and this is the strength of our business. Everyone works hard, tries to do the right things for our clients, and is driven to succeed. They are also personable and know how to enjoy themselves in the right moments. I am lucky in that I work for a company and with people who hold the same values as I do.

G: What is in place at Hargreaves Jones that has helped you develop and further your career?
R: I found the structure of Hargreaves Jones to be unique in my experience, and one that is designed for rapid advancement. Their business practice offers the flexibility to work within a range of large blue-chip clients, across a wide variety of disciplines, at different points within project life cycles. This has provided me with a wealth of experience and the greatest learning and development opportunities in my career.
The monitoring system at Hargreaves Jones is second to none. We all work to an accountable Director, who not only works alongside you on the project but is able to offer advice, approval, support and commercial knowledge on an almost daily basis. You work with them and they set the bar, helping you to go as far as you can go. This means you work to the best of your abilities and in my case, within a couple of years, my career skyrocketed.

G: What advice would you give someone who is starting out in the position you did?
R: The advice I would give to anyone starting within Hargreaves Jones is to enjoy and take full advantage of the opportunities they offer, such as the differing phases of high profile projects you will work on. Make the most of the management support, training and mentoring available and you will be able to add significant value to these multi-discipline projects. At Hargreaves Jones the old motto of ‘work hard, play hard’ is true and the remuneration levels reflect that, so focus on delivery for your client because, if you are successful, we all share the benefits of that success.

G: What has been the highlight of your career at Hargreaves Jones?
R: My first client commission was for a joint venture between a Russian and French company. The contractor side was also a joint venture between a French and Japanese company. This multicultural opportunity enabled me to work in a beautiful area in Paris, plus be lucky enough to spend time in Japan, meeting fantastic people from all corners of the world. A particular highlight was that we managed to make savings on the project of over $1.2 billion dollars - a career benchmark and a very gratifying achievement.

G: Where does your inspiration stem from within Hargreaves Jones? Who has been a good mentor?
R: I may get stick for sucking up to the boss with this answer, but I have primarily worked with Peter Hargreaves and have taken a lot of astute guidance from him both in and out of the office. I consider him a great mentor who has been instrumental in my success. Part of the beauty of the business however, is that you work with all the directors, who have markedly different skill sets, attitudes and experience, all of which is available to be called upon. What more I can say about Glynn, Eric, Laurence, Charles and Simon? They are seriously sharp and determined guys with strong ambitions, a great sense of humour and are good company.

G: What keeps you motivated and driven?
R: A desire to do the best for the people I’m working with and a genuine interest in my work.

G: All-inclusive Beach holiday or do-it-yourself holiday and why?
R: An all-inclusive beach holiday is probably my worst nightmare. Too much factor 50 would be required for my pale skin to make sitting on the beach any fun. Also I get bored fairly easily and don’t like sand between my toes - although I do like the sound of the all-inclusive part! I much prefer to be active and like to go, do and visit places that I haven’t seen before, so a do-it-yourself holiday would be more my style.

If you are interested in finding out more about a career at Hargreaves Jones, please email your CV to Georgia Byrne on georgia.byrne@anderselite.com

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