My Career Conversion Story: Lucy Farrer, Project Quantity Surveyor, Cumbria

Caption: Lucy Farrer

Lucy had ambitions to build a career in law before her eye was taken by Quantity Surveying. With Chartership and a senior role firmly in her sights, she’s blazed a trail during her relatively short time at in Solomons’ Cumbria team and shows no intention of slowing down.

Did you always want to be a Quantity Surveyor?

I always wanted to go into law and practice Human Rights. After A Levels I went to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), where I secured undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in law, and completed my master’s degree in Legal Practice and Legal Practice Course while working part-time for a local firm in Cumbria.

I worked for another firm thereafter specialising in residential and commercial conveyancing. I really just fell into what I was doing. It’s a competitive industry and you have to take what you can to get a foot in the door. I was sat in the office one day and suddenly thought ‘I’ve worked and studied for a long time, is what I’m doing proportionate to the amount of effort I’ve put into my work and education’.

So, how did you get into Quantity Surveying?

I got introduced to it by a colleague of my father. I had absolutely no idea what Quantity Surveying was and that this type of role even existed! And I was concerned it would be entirely different to the legal profession. But he reassured me it was so much more than “bean counting” and that my legal background would be invaluable. I am undoubtably indebted to him, for the seed he planted that day we spoke. He has watched me grow and flourish at Solomons ever since.

As a Quantity Surveyor you’re required to have knowledge of the law, accounting, planning and project management and more in order to provide a good well-rounded service to your client.

How did your journey start with Solomons?

I applied to Solomons and met with Kerry Doig and Claire White. It was like a breath of fresh air from where I’d come from to be honest.

At Solomons I was being interviewed by women – and Directors as well. It gave me a lot of hope in that sense, as well as the company’s culture and the fact it actively encourages and supports career progression. Within a week of the interview in November 2018, I’d got the job as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor. At first, I didn’t know what to expect because it was all new, but I’ve not looked back since. I don’t think I would have got as far as I have if it wasn’t for my legal background and knowledge.

What projects are you currently working on?

I first started off working in pre-construction, which was interesting because it was similar to where I’d come from in that it was drafting contracts and other associated documents. It gave me a good foundation to build on and was a real springboard for my next secondment to a nuclear client, where I’m currently working. I’m also managing my own project whilst working on another.

What’s the best thing about being a Quantity Surveyor?

No working day is the same. You do go through standard tasks, like applications and reporting periods, but you find during each of those periods there are different issues that crop up compared to previous months. Problem solving and communication skills are extremely important to the role. I’m a people person and like building personal and professional relationships. If you can build a good relationship with your colleagues problem solving comes naturally as information is more forthcoming, and you can have honest and effective conversations.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I’ve started the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and will hopefully have that boxed off in the next two years. I’m in the Solomons APC Accountability Club but I’m a bit different to everyone else because I have a non-cognate degree so, my submissions have to be reviewed before I proceed to the final review. I suppose it’s a little bit harder, but I’ll get there. I would also like to progress into a senior role. I’m a determined and ambitious person!

What advice do you have for people considering a career in Quantity Surveying who, like you, started off on a different?

I would like to think that at some point in the not to distant future, that I can too, plant the Quantity Surveying seed in someone’s head and afford them the same opportunity to grow and flourish in the profession just as I was. The idea of paying that forward is something that will stick with me for the rest of my career. So, with that in mind I’d always advise the following: Don’t ever think what you’ve done previously or where you’ve come from has been a waste of time. You can always find something in your skills set that will be to your advantage. Don’t let people tell you otherwise!

And finally, what do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy going to the gym. After lockdown I developed a keen interest in weightlifting. It’s an activity that tests your limits and pushes boundaries, which being a determined and ambitious person is right up my street! I am a massive history geek so you can often find me ‘geeking out’ in places of historic interest. And I love nothing better than to travel and see the world – and shopping of course!

Posts and articles are published here solely for informational purposes. The content contained therein may be brief and is intended to offer general guidance that may be of interest. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any professional advice, consultation or service.

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Solomons Europe is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Centrix House, Crow Lane East, Newton le Willows, WA12 9UY. Registered number: 3548482

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