Jane carved out a varied career in the Police before taking what may at first appear a surprising move into Quantity Surveying. But with transferrable skills in abundance, and an inspiring can-do attitude, she’s loving life at Solomons working on one of the biggest frameworks in her home county of Cumbria.
What did you do before Quantity Surveying?
I worked in the Police for 10 years. My degree was in Forensic Science and Criminology. I first worked in witness support then went into lab work but hated it! After that I was a Complaints Investigator in the Police’s Professional Services Department before a career change opportunity came up and I became a Press Officer. I then joined the Civil Nuclear Constabulary as a Business Support Manager and ended up as a Project Manager before joining Solomons.
So, why the change in career?
I was generally looking about for Project Manager roles and came across an advert to join Solomons as a Quantity Surveyor. They were really interested in my CV given my background and experience and asked me if I understood what a Quantity Surveyor does. When I said I thought it was about how much material you need for a project or building and how much that costs (a very traditional view I know!) they advised me to go away and do some research! When I did, I thought this is the perfect role for me! I saw it as being like a Project Manager but with much more responsibility for specific aspects. You’re there, on the front line, making sure things are delivered rather than the general organisation of activities. This is the part of the job I really love.
What work do you do?
I work for our client Morgan Sindall on the Infrastructure Services Alliance (ISA). I personally look after 12 projects ranging from a bridge to a water survey and get involved from cradle to grave, so from preliminary design right through to delivery. I’ve been quite lucky in that sense, to get that full oversight and understanding and go through all the phases. All the skills I’ve picked up in Project Management, and beyond, all come into play.
What’s the best thing about being a Quantity Surveyor and working for Solomons?
I love the challenges, complexities, and changes – although you can hate them at the same time! I also love the people. It’s a very people orientated role and one where you really have to get stuck in. While Morgan Sindall is my first point of contact, I always know Solomons is there to support me. You crack on with your work, but if I have any issues, I know they’re there right behind me. It’s like a having a safety and comfort blanket rolled into one! Solomons has a very family orientated culture, which is wonderful. They also listen when it comes to your career goals. I’m not interested in Chartership as I’d rather do on the job learning and make myself better for the client that way. The response from Solomons was simple, “if that’s not for you, then don’t do it”. They really see the value of working on a job as well as learning. For me that makes it ideal.
What advice would you give to aspiring Quantity Surveyors or those thinking of a career change?
I think there’s a place for everyone. Even if you don’t have a degree, if you’ve got transferrable and interpersonal skills, know how to apply them to the role and, just as important, that real spark of interest and can-do attitude, then you’re 75% of the way there. I think it’s a case of taking a leap of faith. I was lucky to be given my chance and I could have easily gone in another direction and become a Project Manager for another company. If you’re sat there behind a desk thinking “this isn’t for me anymore”, then make the change. I’m 41 now and have changed my career goodness knows how many times! Nothing’s stopped me, so just go for it!
If you’re hungry for a career change like Jane and you have the talent, passion and drive to pursue it with an SME renowned for its supportive culture, click here to learn about our current vacancies.