The sad news last week on the passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II has given us all cause to reflect. For myself, I confess, the end of this Royal era has made me do just that – and in a way that’s not normally in my character.
There has been much comment on the epic changes The Queen had seen through her lifetime and how these echo with the significant change and disruption we have all encountered over recent years. The worries and concerns that people have felt are compounded as we move towards a difficult economic period this winter.
In light of these events, Solomons will be observing the national Bank Holiday on Monday, September 19 for Her Majesty’s State Funeral and our sincere condolences go to The Royal Family for their loss and to all of those whose lives Queen Elizabeth II touched.
The strange comfort we unwittingly drew as a nation from having a constant figurehead through times of political and social uncertainty, has now changed forever. There has been much said also, about the fact that our new King has been part of the longest job interview in history! I beg to differ. Rather, it has been a long and highly specialised lifetime apprenticeship.
King Charles III takes to the throne at a time when most others would almost certainly be enjoying retirement. The old adage may claim that you “can't teach an old dog new tricks” but I would dispute that.
During the Covid period we have all, no matter at what point in our careers, had to look at the way we work and operate as professionals from a wholly different perspective – in terms of location, technologies, marketplace and methodologies.
This for me, who may well have been labelled an “old dog” myself for a number of years, has brought forward the opportunity to embrace new ways of conducting business: embracing more sustainable practices, improving our supply chain awareness and resilience, espousing rapid skills enhancement and being more open minded and adaptable.
My generation is acutely aware that the construction industry does not welcome change. In fact, it has traditionally been painfully slow to implement new thinking. You only have to look at Latham’s vision 30 years ago to understand how long it has taken for us to truly embrace the benefits to be gained by adopting more collaborative practices.
However, it has also taken the recent period of unprecedented uncertainty encompassing pandemic, war, political and national volatility, to force the changes which have created a new catalyst for setting aside traditional mindsets and adopting a committed approach to true collaboration – some of which has been born through sheer necessity.
The war in Ukraine has only further brought this need to cooperate more openly to the fore. The requirement for supply chain integration, reliability and agility, and the need for rapid and effective change to resolve difficulties, differences and find swift solutions to maintain and support successful outcomes for all parties.
Whilst not new ways of working, these significant events have driven a renewed sense of urgency, including for me personally. I gained my Quantity Surveying degree in 1992, became Chartered in 1995 and completed several diplomas and advanced courses in the last millennia.
But during these last few turbulent years, I have learnt more than I did throughout the entire 1980s and 90s, and this has only been possible by having an open mindset and being willing to learn new skills.
All of these changes have given me a renewed interest, optimism and energy for the future of our profession and a desire to continue build new skills and knowledge to enhance the positive impacts the Quantity Surveyor can bring to a project.
I have become much more connected with the supply chain and SMEs through my involvement with the Swimming with the Big Fish SME Matchmaker Service and in supporting our current apprentice cohorts. I have needed to be both a responsible mentor and advocate, and to ensure I am up to date with current ways of thinking and legislation so the knowledge I am passing on to others is both accurate and relevant.
But I have also had to be open to challenge and learning from others myself and to understand the new, less traditional ways of learning and developing skills and knowledge which are so very different from when I first took steps into the profession.
Fast learning from multiple sources and not standard textbooks and publications, is the way of the future and requires us to be discerning in our choices of information and knowledge.
Most recently, I have been studying the latest thinking on best practice procurement – taking a holistic and balanced perspective to ensure a more comprehensive understanding of collaborative procurement and contracting practices from all perspectives. Taking a win-win perspective ultimately achieves better outcomes, for the project, the supply chain and the locality. This is hugely different from my formative years in training where project outturn cost was the only focus.
All of this has given me a renewed passion and hunger to learn once again. And it reminds me of the drive I had all those years ago when I had that hunger for progression, promotion, and showing my competitive edge. Now, in my early 50’s I feel a renewed duty to stay ahead and learn about new sustainable practices, but not for my own personal career but to ensure that I’m better able to share my experience and knowledge to encourage and instil new ways of thinking and working for the next generation.
It is therefore without doubt the dawn of a new era but one which I feel we can all rise to the challenge to accomplish with an openness and commitment to finding more sustainable and collaborative ways to work together. Which offers a future to embrace and become an active part of, and one in which I am willing to become apprentice once again!