Episode 109

109 Corporate Real Estate Surveying with Bill Jones

Bill Jones is an Award-Winning Chartered Surveyor with 20 years’ experience in senior Corporate Real Estate roles. Bill is originally from The Wirral, but he has been residing in Singapore for the last 16 years. He worked on the projects spanning across the Asia-Pacific region and globally, including long-term roles with Rio Tinto and Shell. Aside from the day job, Bill has been an active mentor and counselor for many years helping people towards achieving their RICS goals. 

In this episode, we talk about Bill’s journey into surveying, his experience of moving and working in Singapore, the imperative of life-long learning, and the need for greater visibility and promotion of the surveyors’ profession.  

What is Covered: 

  • 04:30 - How Bill started his surveying career when he was only 14 
  • 17:00 - Bill’s transition from roles at Police Authority and National Crime Squad to working with Shell
  • 21:00 - Health and safety culture shock at Shell compared to the local authority
  • 25:00 - How moving to Southeast Asia affected Bill’s family
  • 33:30 - What qualifications for surveyors are required abroad and the relevance of RICS outside of the UK 
  • 38:00 - How to make the surveyors’ profession more exciting for young people
  • 42:00 - What Corporate Real Estate is and what Bill does in that area
  • 45:00 - The broad skill sets surveyors need to acquire as the regulations change

Connect with Bill Jones: 

Connect with Marion Ellis:


The Surveyor Hub:


Marion Ellis 0:00

Obviously I went in at 14 But yeah, I didn't really know what I was doing, you know, but I know that people used to have this thing called a milk round where they go to schools and tell people what's been survey was but the only thing they did that sound was to to our consists of a was and I found that to be I have to be honest, that was quite boring. Do you know what they call brick counting? Well, there's a lot more to it than that now. But that's why it was always cool. I think it must be exciting, and it should be seen as exciting otherwise, all that happens is that the engineers and architects and other accountants will steal our space if we're not careful.

Marion Ellis 0:36

Welcome to the survey hub Podcast, the podcast for surveyors who just love what they do. I'm Marion Ellis, and in today's episode, I chat with Bill Jones chartered surveyor, originally from The Wirrel but now residing in Singapore for the last 16 years. Aside from the day job Bill has been an active mentor and counselor for many years, helping people towards their RICS goals. And I got to know Bill over the past couple of years from our time on the RICS Governing Council. Welcome to the podcast bill.

Bill Jones 1:13

Thank you very much, Marion, great to be here.

Marion Ellis 1:15

And I feel like this podcast is going to be one of those ones where we just chat about everything.

Bill Jones 1:22

Yes, when we get together we do with chat about everything. So it will be one of those.

Marion Ellis 1:27

So hopefully won't get too distracted by whatever. But for those who don't know you, could you introduce yourself? Yeah,

Bill Jones 1:35

my name is Bill Jones. Full Name, William. But yeah, everyone calls we bill, originally from the world, ls my original sort of hell. I've moved to Singapore 17 years ago when I was working for Shell. And I've been here pretty much ever since that time really brought the family out and settled here on a permanent basis. So bit about me. I'm a chartered surveyor, came into the world of surveying at a very young age, the age of 14. Working for my uncle who was Ariel is a retired valuation building surveyor, a mixture of both. And basically studied under him doing all sorts holding tape measures and stuff like that and doing all those type of things. And just got the book for it just fell in love with what was originally doing residential surveys and valuations Simple as that great stuff, loved it and just decided he wants to be a chartered surveyor. So bit of chartered surveyor since the age of 23. iconified. So I'm here. Yeah. That's a bit about me, our family, so

Marion Ellis 2:39

many questions there, Bill. The first is that for many years, I thought you were a que es, which I knew you did. I knew you had done lots of different things. And we know each other because we were on governing council together. You're, as we record this, you're still on the current RSCs. Governing Council. And that's how we got to know I don't think our paths would have crossed otherwise.

Bill Jones 3:02

il in person until the end of:

Marion Ellis 3:16

And for those listening, you may or may not know I've recorded these on Zoom because I find it a lot easier to see who I'm speaking to. And the problem was Bill is that in my head, he is Paul McCartney.

Bill Jones 3:32

Paul McCartney, they

Marion Ellis 3:33

were I mean, he just not the accent and in my head, I just want to just do so I don't know if that's flattering or offensive depending on which side of the fence you're on. But I always think of us as Paul McCartney. Let's chat about your career them because you started at 14 I wonder if that's the youngest surveyor journey but in in the world. So you know what? Yeah, what really got you hooked. You know, you said you got the bug. What was it? Well,

Bill Jones 4:08

it was just looking for something to do. I mean, I was sort of 14 wanted to earn some money basically. Simple as that. It was wanting to just go and watch the football club here across the water there. So the water so it was a football on the world, but my family are from the lovable cyber parents, grandparents, so watching the workforce, or is it just to earn money to do things like that, which you couldn't really do coming from just an ordinary background and need to earn a bit of cash so didn't know what to do. So it's just a phone call. So you can come with me and you can you know, hard graft you know, godson tape measure doubt meters. So that's how I got into this just doing all that stuff. I remember the first day I did it, though, it was pretty embarrassing. Went to a house somewhere, I think was actually in some way in Northwest Kansas Keene or Flint area and there was a terraced house and oldish terraced house and didn't know how to use adapt meeting I was like terrified and just stick it in the wall. So I did. And a chunk of the plaster came off because it was damp, and I pulled it out. Not that hard circles immediately I was to do lots of apologies the owner but it's things like that going up in lots and going to the floor Daffy just being out I didn't want to do a job where I was just stuck in an office all day. And I knew although I love football, I would never be a professional footballer, you know, used to realize that and although in the family had musicians, people who have new sing and make music new I've never been a musician I can never seem to that level of competency so I thought well give it a go, you know? So that's that's not the absolute rise carried on.

Marion Ellis 5:50

So you're really not Paul McCartney?

Bill Jones 5:54

Well, funnily enough, my mom used to go and see the Beatles and she knew them so she knew them pretty well.

Marion Ellis 6:00

I think every was done tenuous link to the set that was to The Beatles. I think a lot of surveyors will remember that first day or that first property that you go to and it is really nerve wracking and you can't really prepare for it you're going to do it on someone else's territory so to speak, and you're going in a professional capacity whatever age you are, or however you you start and then you know as soon as you said that about the putting the moisture meter into the wall and pulling it out. I remember doing exactly the same with a wall that was basically made a sand there and the lady was watching me and I remember saying What did you do? I said Moses was the worry if the rest of this house is built like that, will it still be standing and I felt bad about that? I thought it's because she's probably terrified but you know these things these things happen were you quite academic at school how did you get your qualifications to be get qualified as a surveyor? What route

Bill Jones 6:59

I think I pretty much scraped through my just because it's been what time you know, just like two are not where I call an extrovert but I used to have lots of friends who just like to get out and about and didn't wasn't bookish. So I just did he always enough to get through. So that was basically me. So I did usual thing. Okay, I got maths and Maths and English, I got the basic Oh level for those. And other I did languages, languages. I did Russian and French to a level and things like that. And I studied Latin as well, which was just because I had an interest in lingua the national linguistics. So that's what I just did those and managed to get good scores in all levels and a levels, but he was always with a buted doing that. And I must admit to school, there's so say, Well, you could do something else, you know, you've got good results in a levels. And I said no, my aim was always just to get enough. And I know that people are going to things like reading or Heriot Watt. And I just wanted to because I know this Liverpool season ticket, I didn't want to travel very far. So and that was quite frustrating now considering, you know, as I say, my dad used to work in all sorts of far flung places. And he would always travel and I suppose because of that, I used to think, well, you know, it's a good thing, because we never see him. You never saw much of him when I was a kid. So I was sort of rusty, I'll be at home. But now I'm quite happy to stay at home and just do that. Obviously, the travel bug got me a few years later. But I think at that time, it was staying out being on home territory was was great for me and being able to have my social circle unbroken was was even better.

Marion Ellis 8:44

I think that's, in part, a generational thing. And I say that, because I was that myself, I went to a local institutes, as well as then it's now a no university never occurred to me to leave Wales. And I did apply, I think, to reading, and I was obviously poorly, so I had to delay, delay my, my degree, and then life just takes over as it does. And I think there's a lot to be said, for studying local, you know, that ratio, it's the new paths and all of those things, but we don't always think about what's possible. And you know, I've always seen myself as quite sheltered and only the last few years thinking more globally and I think being governing counselors helped me certainly mean that but you had the understanding of what it means meant to travel around the world if your your parents were so your dad was so what was your first job then? Your proper job

Bill Jones 9:39

first job after I left the college of bricks as it was called Liverpool Polytechnic, which is now ljmu is a great course we have great lectures and everything else. So I worked in Chester for a couple of years after that. I did my search trip my Cadet training at Cheshire county council So I didn't want to go back and work with my uncle, I could have done but I said, Now I want to just try something different. And that when I started to get more into the sort of wider sort of read general practices, it was called then doing so commercial, and other other property inspections and property sales and delegate properties ready for disposal, because they had huge estates here. You're looking at anything and everything, who's really good grounding and the people that were fantastic at a big team, the language one of those outsourcing.

Marion Ellis:

Yeah, I hear that quite a lot. We've had a few people as guests on the podcast, and they started out working for a local authority. I mean, how local Pina gets, but it's a really they're rounding for the training they carried. And I don't know, it was bit stability, I guess. Not necessarily jobs for life anymore. But we'll find that as a good, really good, good step. And so and so what was your role where you moved into all sort of general practice you'd mentioned? Or was there anything specific that you did?

Bill Jones:

Well, I am your served for two years, just on my two got my RSCs. And it was basically what I was doing was just it was B inspections. So they'd have all these various houses a lot of people like in the fire service, or would have houses police service, they also have these huge agricultural holdings. So to manage those as well, which was always quite a sort of estimation of the culturally changes because the the head of the rural estate, there's this sell mentioned his name, but he's, he's, he's still alive. He's long retired now. But first day, first week, I just had an appointment, his his secretary came, and she said to me by so you're gonna go and see him at certain time. He was nine o'clock, trumped on the Wednesday morning. So I just walked straight into his room had this big, big office. And of course, I didn't knock to go in, you know. And I called him by his first name. So immediately, he just, he just went into a rage. And I was to call in Mr. Mr. Flanagan, and set me out to knock on the door. So to go out and knock on the door, and it was coming in, you know, that kind of thing. So it's all very mean that that's just different world now. I mean, I tend to do this one. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That was also awful. I mean, just it just in terms, your own personal morale, but you just had to get on there. But it was not nice, that kind of thing. Because it was always never learned anything from those people. You know, not everybody was like that I worked with some fantastic people who taught me so much in two years, you know, it's, you know, and it's funny, one of them went on to be a work colleague, two of them actually want to share later all at the same level, I was part of the same team is funny than they were both higher, and my bosses and became, you know, really, really good friends. And life evolves, you know, you've never burned your bridges with people, even with those horrible people like Mr. Flanagan, you know, never burn your bridges with him. Because you mean, you may, at some point, come back and deal with them. Challenge them that

Marion Ellis:

the horrible, yeah, you, I don't know. It's difficult, because we shouldn't have to tolerate some of the things that we put up with it, it's finding that balance, but nobody should have to, I mean, in this day and age, you know, I think we've got a generational shift of culture, nobody should have to put up with the with those things. But you're right, in terms of, you know, the people that you get to know that you might later work with, and, you know, they might be your boss, or you might be be their boss, and I think something that I come across certainly is, you know, surveyors don't get that training as such, on how to be an employee, how to how business works, you know, how to communicate with, with people, you know, we talked about on the job training, but there's a, there's something to be said, for understanding, you know, the rules and the unwritten rules, if you like, and I think it's quite harder now for students, trainees, those just starting out to, to understand how to pitch things and, and, you know, your whether we say the wrong thing, what's appropriate or not, it's all about testing the boundaries at every stage, isn't it of what's acceptable? And, and now, you know, as we record this, we've come out of a two and a half year global pandemic, depending on where you are in the world. And that's added another layer of complexity, hasn't it? Because there's lots of people who haven't had the mentoring haven't had the interaction. Yeah, it's quite eerie.

Bill Jones:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think yeah, when I first started it was I got that grounding, but other people didn't get that level of grounding, where they didn't get taught how to how to speak to somebody when they knocked on the door how to speak to somebody on the phone, how to write a letter, all that kind of thing, you know, yeah, I was lucky to get that others didn't and they just had to learn on the job which by mistakes almost, you know, which is not a good way to do it and it's me to coach you and it's always that's why now I always try and sort of pass on you know, if people want to let you know want to learn stuff from me then happy to pass on even it's just one little tiny thing, because sick and just help people make that difference in their careers just just a tiny little thing. And yeah, that's important. So it's weird duty to do that. I think as Chartered Surveyors, I think we have the duty to do it within our profession.

Marion Ellis:

I think you're right. And it's it's not just about the technical things that we're sharing, but also and it sounds really, you know, teaching someone how to send an email, or how to teach someone how to answer the phone. I haven't done it before. And I remember the first day on my graduate scheme that I did with Lange many years ago, I'd worked for a few years before, sort of more mature than the others. And on day one, they were literally terrified or answering the phone, I was just thinking, How the hell am I gonna survive 18 months if everyone else is worrying about how to answer the phone, obviously, other things that I needed to learn, you know, but, and it's not about doing things or proper, but it's knowing how to communicate with people getting a sense of when things are right or wrong, you know, lots of things that can be, we learned, we can be so abrupt, and I'm like that I'm very abrupt on emails. So I'm just not not thinking properly. I have to take time say, Hi. You know, that in my head, I've said it, but I just haven't written it down. Let me ask you about moving to shelling, because that must have been a bit of a culture change audit from local authority to

Bill Jones:

me, whilst I did it after I left church ridic few years in private practice. And then I moved back into government because there was just opportunities. I mean, I worked for Merseyside police authority and the National the National Crime Squad and what we're doing there was potty development. So we're selling off the, the the oldest stock and we and be getting funding to build new design and build projects. So that was the opportunity just to move into something completely different. So moving on, from the sort of managing the corporate real estate, in a local authority to actually doing some project development, property development, and project management. I remember the architects hated the idea of these charts, verse coming in the managing projects, because they all thought, you know, back in 30, or 2530 years ago, it should all be done by architects, you know, could not be done or engineers could not be done by a chartered surveyor. But we I think we have that white Yeah, good skill set to be able to do that. So that in turn led me to Shell because they would do they were trying to do some things that were different. He said, just managing shows called Real Estate, they had some challenges, which meant they had to do different things. So yeah, it was a big change for me. Yeah. Having to adapt to working in in sort of private corporate worlds and big organization like Shell Yeah, was a big? Yeah.

Marion Ellis:

Did you have to retrain, then, because I come across lots of surveyors who know there might be a QoS, they want to move into residential, or, you know, the different types of surveying. And just because you're qualified or a member of the RSS doesn't mean you are good enough to do the job. And so a lot of people don't take the leap, because they think they need to have to retrain, or they don't have to start again. And how did you find the transition then, to that? Or was it did it feel sort of more natural the next thing, the next thing?

Bill Jones:

I think, having done that sort of property development side, I thought rang? Yes, you know? Yeah, I don't know. So I've done some work in local authority, some of the early days of finding sustainable solutions for some problem states in the north of England, where we sort of try and think of holistic solutions, and also looking at things like you know, energy management systems. We've got involved in some of that. So that was a big help to me with Chuck, as none of the other people really had those skills, but they were used to managing in a big organization like shell, the adjustments really were cultural. A lot the surveyors who worked for shell that time worked for your double barrel surname folks, and they were slightly different the type of people I've worked alongside them, some of them are a bit aloof, which, which was a challenge itself, having to really challenge me to try and sort of build relationships with these people, which I hadn't yet which I did in the end, health and safety culture was was the biggest shock because you know, holding handrails now do follow rules. Even in the early days in mobile phones, people would use them walking down stairs, which you couldn't do very strict rules at refineries, boring PPE, things like that, which in a local authority have worked for and also worked for Merseyside police authority. It was never really even like women working alone that that was never thought about it was always thought about as being well, it's not important, you know, just get on with the job or shelter that very seriously. So yeah, first six months, I would say was a steep learning curve in terms of this big organization and having to do things a bit more quickly. Hurry to meet deadlines, having to do follow really strict processes and health and safety training. I mean, that was quite intense. You couldn't start working and refine or go and do any work on a refinery unless you had that to that training and pass those examinations, and we did DuPont training, which was very, very strict as well, you know that it was it was the stage where you want to carry anything above a certain weight you had to put on a trolley, whereas most of us would carry it No, no yet had to put in the trolley and get things signed off, you know, scaffolding having scab tags or something. Yeah, very, very strict rules. So yeah, it was, but it was done that learning it was fantastic place to work. So enjoyed my 10 years there. Yes.

Marion Ellis:

Is that where you started to travel? Or was that still in the UK? Yeah.

Bill Jones:

Yeah, I remember my interview with Mike. There's a guy called like Barker, who was then the Global Head of real estate and he was fantastic Mike he was said in those days it was all Chartered Surveyors very different now. It was a lot there was just cornetta. That's their sort of go to sort of body and it's mostly networking. But you had to be a chartered surveyor to get a job in shelling those those very strict, I will make an interview saying what year are you? Would you be prepared to travel? And he said, so what happened divide tomorrow. So he wrote, we've got, you know, we need to send you to South America to go and sort of look at a piece of land and come up back and tell us how we can dispose of this surplus land or building asset we have in in Chile or Argentina. I said, Well, I absolutely have no problem with with that. Talk to the family about it. And so here we are for the challenge. And it says it my job within the National Crime Squad, the furthest I got was Carlisle. So thinking well, London, you know, second, and whilst that was a big adventure to travel to Carlisle, London for a couple of days on a on a on a on a project. Now if you're going to Chile, or Argentina was was just something unheard of. But yeah, within a couple of years, yeah. Well, within 18 months, I was traveling to Europe. And then within a say three years, I sort of started traveling to Singapore and Malaysia, and then Philippines, Thailand, and then they offered me the chance to move out here permanently. And that's how it came about in the two years. I said two years. There's still something happened along the way. So how did that forgot me here

Marion Ellis:

after that? What was Samling then, you know, sort of moving family around that must because, you know, we talk about doing our jobs, but there are consequences, aren't there, you know, have either not been with our families or,

Bill Jones:

yeah, obviously, relatives pass away. But my dad and grandma passed away and not being able to be there when it happened. So you do miss things. And matured, it was not able to go to school, especially my daughter, initially a huge upheaval. But it did help in the sense that she's dyslexic, and also, she's dyspraxia associated with certain clumsiness thing, as well as being having that trouble with their learning at school. So she couldn't do sports very well. And she couldn't read or write very well and lead things. So the UK didn't help her. It didn't the system didn't help her. Whereas in Singapore, she got loads of help. Obviously, she'll pay for his when we all went to the international schools, so you're paying for it. So the UK where it was the obviously the state system, but yeah, so they but yeah, they did. Yeah, it was tough for them the first case, and also the climate, the humidity really impacted them. They come home from school and just practically fall asleep, you know, then because the humidity would just get here so yeah, it wasn't it was a it was a big upheaval. So yeah, and it's a family issues as well. My wife's dad passed away, literally we arrived, you know, straight away, so couldn't get get back, you know, things like that do impact you. So you have to think about that, you know, think about the consequences. And make sure we have a good employer will help you to win when needed to go back at short notice. I think there's more flexibility in big organization now than was when I joined because I had some you know, the bosses were not all that in show we're not all athletes were not flexible at all. And that's probably what led me to move on remember this sort of found that there was no there was certain people in the organization you know, if you can be in a fantastic organization. If you got a horrible boss, you sometimes have to move on,

Marion Ellis:

unfortunately. And that could be anywhere concept. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I

Bill Jones:

thought show was a fantastic is still a fantastic organization, do some great stuff, trying to move into renewable energies. And really, and in terms of diversity inclusion, it was just seamless, even 1215 years ago, it was just part of your DNA has to be that was a different thing. I had to learn this process the DNA of a shell. That was fantastic and still is a fantastic organization. But a horrible boss makes you move on and people need to think about that in the world. There's so many people who you know, and probably the majority of people move on Not because the organization was costly. You get a manager who just doesn't know how to manage, doesn't mentor?

Marion Ellis:

I think you're right. And I think that comes back to that, you know, learning how to answer the phone and doing the the office basics. It's then learning how to be a manager recently, as well, this goes out a couple of months after, after we recorded it. But recently, I popped a post on on LinkedIn, because a survey reached out to me, she's working all sorts of hours, you know, she's trying to talk to her boss about it. And it's just no, you do this, you just and what's evident is He clearly doesn't know how to manage, she's struggling. But it also feel for that manager, because they don't know any different. And I wonder, you know, in some areas, some types of companies, it's almost a generational thing of, well, I only know how to manage people this way, which is to crack the whip, make them work harder set rules, and they get on with it they before? Well, they don't and they can be successful at that. But now we have a much more, I guess, becoming a much more accepting society, we talk about diversity and accessibility in lots of different ways. You know, and even, even if you haven't got those challenges, there's still things like juggling childcare. And that's parents that parental issue, not just a female or maternal issue. And we've got to be, look be looking at that. And so sometimes you do wonder, Is that hierarchy model? Still relevance? Because we're all trying to fit into it? And most of us, don't we leave or we move? When actually does it need to be a different model? I don't know. Either. My thoughts. But what I'll get there in our lifetime, but you know,

Bill Jones:

now think that management, the toolkit, which you somebody wants sets me up I was with the police authorities, there's, my boss was a guy called Sir David Henshaw, he was having a toolkit you grew up in so many different skill sets, as a manager, sometimes you do need to crack the whip. But you know, most of the time, you have to employ so many different skill sets to and for different people, there's different ways that they will react to things. Yeah, so you need, you need to have so many skill sets to manage, you can't just do it. So this is my, and he used to say to people, as a visitor interviewing somebody to be, you know, to come in at a management level, I said to match your style. And they said, just said one word in back, he would just say now I don't want them, I want them to say I don't have a style, I have a number of different styles. And different approaches to hiring manager have a whole range. That's what he wanted to hear. And I think that's a really good way of approaching it. Because I used to over the years have managed people with so many different has to say nationalities and age groups, you know, the whole range. And people with different sort of family backgrounds, different houses, the family challenges, you just got to treat everybody differently, understand, where they, where they sit in terms of their career plan, family and everything else and get the best out of them. At the end of the day that just recently employed people is to is not just to give them the best opportunity, but it's to make sure that you can get results as well, as well. All about that two way process. So

Marion Ellis:

I guess I guess the thing is to be able to be consistently different. Thanks, bye guys. In that you tuned in to a know the people that work for you, and with you so that you can be more sensitive when you need to, or supportive in a tough love kind of way. But I do think that, you know, for a lot of surveyors out there starting their careers, you know, or whatever stage they're at, they'll be thinking, I just want to be a surveyor and do a job. And they don't get involved in the management side, they don't become aware of it. And I, I talk to a lot of people about being in the business of surveying, a surveyor is in the business of surveying, you know, it's not just inspecting the building, doing report or whatever, you've got to be aware and have context of everything else that's that surrounds you. And having that managerial toolkit, even if you're not managing people is so important because you're managing projects or progressing things through or, or whatever it is, you know, making tough decisions delivering bad news sometimes. So having that to kids, I think is absolutely absolutely vital. And I'm so you know, as you said, you've seen that on a, you know, an international level with different cultures. And though and those things that must have been a lot to learn, I know most have to get a sense that sometimes the world can seem so small because we're connected we can travel anywhere we want usually, but it is so big and vast at the same time. You know that Oh, they're all oceans between between them. Can I ask you about, you know, you mentioned? Shall you have to be a chartered surveyor to work in certain departments or a certain companies. And that has evolved over over the years. And we, we see that and I guess that sort of brings in the question of, you know, our survey is relevant. Now, here. There's a, there's a tough one here in the UK, I know, those in that do valuation work, it is relevant, it is essential, you have to be a registered RSS value to do that kind of work. But I think for the rest of surveyors in lots of different guises, you know, it's a good to have nice to have not necessarily an essential, yeah. Do you see that as change? And is that similar across the world that you've seen?

Bill Jones:

Certainly, you're right on the UK picture outside the UK have seen that an interesting one in terms of the search, particularly corporate real estate, which is where I spent a lot of my career see a lot of people now like select a shell will put you in a job adverts that they want people to see on LinkedIn, they say, you know, we got a cornet qualification, or MCR or one of these Cornette qualifications, where will is what they're looking for, we won't necessarily go for RSCs anymore, which is, he's a shame because I think that wider skill set, you know, cornet, a lot of it's been networking, and that's really important. And that's dropped off, because he has specific regions dropped off within RSCs. We don't do enough networking. I mean, we used to, and it's dropped off. And that needs to come back to really counterbalance that. And that's where coreless got a big advantage. They got the networking side, it's important to gross people's social and interaction skills with clients, stakeholders, peers, but also the learning side, and they've come up with the learning book. Yeah, there's, there's, I think that's an area and rsgs just need to can step into that ground again, which is lost to some degree, not anyone's fault. But just through a series of circumstances, it's lost a bit of that, outside the UK certainly need to, to make it relevant. Again, you do need to start to think about qualification, because we would like to get that. Over the years around Asia Pacific region, I've seen so many people who really come through and said, I'm just so grateful, I've got that now that qualification is so important to me personally. So think it does have that personal value still. But people tend to get on their careers, black personal value isn't enough to get them a job. So they need to get some kind of qualification that's recognized, not necessarily a degree, but it could be, you know, certain types of learning programs and corners have got some of that because they've got like this cue car sort of qualification, which isn't, you know, a long term thing, it can take you six months, or 12 months to get. So we need some of those things like diplomas or a whole mixed bag of things that we can use. And as I say that sort of networking side is important as well, because I believe young people coming through that don't just want a qualification, they want something where they can network, with their peers, and with stakeholders, potential employers, that kind of thing as well. So that's what I think will make a qualification relevant in the future, is having that mixed bag of things, not just having letters after your name, you're gonna have that sort of wider sort of platform. So yeah, I think it still is relevant, but it's lots of irrelevance all staffed, and, you

Marion Ellis:

know, okay, our ICS has had a, yeah, an interesting couple of years, you know, crew, lots of different reasons. But I think it's always had a challenge of being, you know, a standards and regulation body. And, you know, the membership side and what that means to people, you know, it's like, I'm in charge, but I'm your friend as well. And that can always be really, a really difficult, difficult mix. And, you know, I hear a lot of surveyors talk about, you know, our ICS doesn't do enough to explain what we do, and the relevance and promote to industry and the profession to industry. And, and there is an argument to that, you know, absolutely. But I also believe that surveyors need to talk more about what they do, how they do it, why they do it, what they love about it, so that people could just get a better understanding of what surveyors are about. And the challenge is support, absolutely bloody difference. You know, why it was such a mixed bag and so, but for me, it comes back to that whole purpose of keeping people safe, helping them live their lives, in the form of structure, even if that if you're doing valuation, you know, we've all have a part to it. And so, you know, maybe, and I get the qualification parts Yeah, because we do need to be to be qualified. But there are others out there who do it better do it, you know, in a different relevant way. And you're always going to be on the backfoot, whatever membership body you're part of. But I think there's a big piece there of helping people understand what surveyors are about better. And we can do a lot of that ourselves.

Bill Jones:

I think we need to do that. I mean, it's funny that some years ago when I, obviously I went in at 14, but yeah, I didn't really know what he was doing, you know, but I know that people used to have this thing called a milk round where they go to schools and tell people what's been survey was, but the only thing they did last time was to to our consumer survey was I found that the, I have to be honest, thought I was quite boring. Do you know the, you know, what they call brick counting? Well, there's a lot more to it than that now. But that's what it was always cool. And I think, in this be exciting, this machine's exciting. Otherwise, you know, it's, what will happen is that the engineers and architects and other accountants will steal our space, if we're not careful with surveying, either it is it is a skill sets on its own, really, because it's out I think that people don't perhaps appreciate that. So we do need to sell it. But we need to actually start to produce materials

Marion Ellis:

until we could all we could all play a part in that. And, yeah, we need to make it exciting. And yeah, that's the hardest thing. So it's the art of going to a school a couple of years ago, and there was three of us, and that they hadn't The kids must have been about 1213, something like that. I was I went in as a resi valuer effectively, I just talked to him about being a bit of a state estate agent was the easiest way to explain a lot of it. There was another guy there who run a carpet shop, either got wells, what pipe charismatic, steady fits carpets, this is the money I've got. And this is my van. And there was this guy who worked for Aston Martin, the car place. And he worked in the prototype department. And he described how you'd be in this room and I had lots of lights and they would get the car right and it was all flat. There was no bumps whatsoever. And the kids were like, and they literally had you had them in the palm of his hands until he said, but you can't take your mobile phones in there. It's all top secret and they were like really, it's pretty hard to to engage. But I think the more that you can, you know, just demonstrate that you're passionate about what you do that just generates that that curiosity doesn't it and it just planted that seed for you know, future years to come as to what people people end up end up doing. But I think I do think we've all got a part to play. Can I ask you about the work that you that you do now? So you're based over in Singapore?

Bill Jones:

Yes, that's right. So I came over to do corporate real estate work in Singapore was shell managing all of its corporate real estate Simple as that.

Marion Ellis:

And can you explain to me Sorry, what corporate real estate is to yeah resi valuer. It is about

Bill Jones:

well, yeah, I know the workplace has changed, we still have workplaces, more shows employees work some worse some of them work from home some work from offices, some of them work in refineries, some working filling stations, some of them have in distribution. So they are they will go and fill up a tanker with petrol and take it to the filling stations from a refinery or for from a distribution center. Some of them will take them to airports where there'll be their aviation facilities that were shell will store fuel some of them will put them into pipelines as pipelines all over the world where the product will go into a pipeline and get transported somewhere else. Similarly at this this chemical plants where they will actually break down the product into say things like plastics, we make plastics out of the product that is brought up from way below the ground and taken to refineries all these different things require a building or a piece of land that to happen on apart from say those people who are fortunate enough now to to work from from home, you know, get that balance. So you're gonna say offices, refineries, everything else. So the role of me as a corporate real estate professional is a corporate a state chartered surveyor is to actually support the business. So to actually say to the business, what do you need? So, you know, do you need more Lampi refinery, which shall we needed to buy a bit more land to expand so that we could build more facilities that the refineries we needed in some cases provide houses for the senior senior people, buy the houses, whatever, for the CEOs, people like that? offices, make sure have the right offices, the right workstations, carpets, all type of things over an office and manage the offices retail you make sure that you manage the retail facilities properly because you have oil storage or petrol storage Do you have the inside you've got the all the things that you sell all anything from coffee, to petrol to magazines, all that kind of thing, the supply of all that. So you get involved in any aspect of that make sure that all works smoothly, and make sure that it makes money for shelf. So yeah, that's for corporate estate professionals as they'll get involved in anything and everything. Suddenly

Marion Ellis:

I hadn't realized how broad it was actually meant I did but didn't you know how broad and and so I can see therefore, how it gives you a lot of flexibility to take on different roles. Yes, definitely. And and progresses and different industry sectors, I guess.

Bill Jones:

Yeah, things like Project remit project manager into PMO, where you're managing the overall programs, you can be involved in doing transactions, lease management, so you can be in charge of the database, make sure that all of payments go in and out through the your rim, you know, wherever systems you use for payments within your organization. There's also things like inspections, yes, of inspecting property. And I say, the whole the whole range of stuff, really anything you can think of to do with property, you have to have to go and do it and somebody has to do it, and you outsource it. But you still have to manage the outsourced providers. So I said JLL, for example, do loads of stuff for organizations like shell or Exxon Mobil or Standard Chartered Bank or wherever. But they had the spin in house team to manage that. And that's right I did for many years in my year was shell and with Rio Tinto as the in house, real estate person.

Marion Ellis:

And, you know, we've talked about the training that you might have as a, as a manager as your career progresses, I guess what's important then is you're alive to not just ticking off your CPD, but making sure your training and your competency is relevant because of these different sounds. And you're not, you know, spread too thin. But you've got enough you can outsource it, but you still got to have a responsibility. And that's the thing I see. Quite a few surveys actually is no we've talked about are we are we qualified enough to do the job. And we don't always test our competency as we go through because I've been a chartered surveyor for 200 years, or whatever it is, or you test it, but we don't intentionally plan. The next step, the next thing that we need to learn, we just sometimes pick CPD, because that looks interesting, or I have to do it because the regulations change. So I guess it's important to have a really proactive approach to where your your career is going.

Bill Jones:

Yeah, I would be very broad. I mean, even like, procurement was a skill I never really had I mean, I'd left that to the predominantly shell, we're always a necessary evil their sins, you've got it, you've got to use them, but they are difficult, inflexible people, blah, blah. But then it was Rio Tinto in it as she was, you know, worked in their real estate was in there, commercially, Portland, or the commercial part of the organization, I should say. And that's what happened in mining that the the real estate's set within commercial, which is effectively procurement sourcing, real commercial contracting. And, and therefore, I learned a huge amount about procurement, which was definitely a skill set, I'd never thought I'd be able to develop, but I did. And I think that's important that the Chartered Surveyors get to understand sourcing, things like doing RFPs. And never, you're suddenly I was having RFPs requests for posts on is it proposal, yeah, an RFI or request for it. So you're sourcing, you're outsourcing, say, all of your transactions, all of your lease transactions, to get to the market, you're gonna go out to say, JLL, CBRE Knight, Frank or whoever I look, I'll give you a local firm, you might be doing it in the country, or you move it in it for just a one off project, or globally. So I've done all of those different things. And if we need to do evaluation, you need to manage conflicts of interest, you need to manage the scoring, you need to sort of manage the interview processes with the procurement people. And they know how to manage the processes, but they're not real estate professionals. So you have to work closely with them. And it's something I've never really done before he shall we never, we tried to work closely, but we've never seen as being important to the senior management. Whereas now I think it's absolutely critical that work, you know that surveys do need to understand about procurement and sourcing so that they can work we do come up with better outcomes for their, their clients or for their, the organizations they work for. That's just one thing. I mean, health and safety is another where you need to learn about that and sustainability is another big area. You know, it's a I think charter space needs to learn much more about that we managing projects, where you say like building a net zero net zero carbon structure, that kind of thing. You've got to learn all about the at least enough about The technical requirements to be able to do your job effectively. That's a big gap. I see. Yeah,

Marion Ellis:

I think I think for some, if you're a bit longer than the two that can feels quite scary to learn, Oh, yes. And you say area,

Bill Jones:

sleepless night, yeah, I've had those sleepless nights. And, you know, they'll never learn enough. But yeah, it's the older you get, the scarier is a thing here. But it's exciting at the same time, because so much so much great things you can learn about a, you know, you know how to treat rainwater and how you can manage that more effectively. And, you know, the use of these sort of building integrated solar panels to where you can actually build them into the structure such that they can form party building structure and provide additional power for your, your building or your house to say, the complex you work in, and, you know, come to try to achieve a net zero. So whatever you energy you consume in managing your business, is actually something that you produce yourself. So you've got that sort of zero in the equation, which is a huge thing. But I years ago, I thought, how can you do that, but there are ways to do it. But suppose don't know enough about that. I mean, need to get the

Marion Ellis:

technology's moved on, you know, since and keep moving. We're always Yeah, let's face it, I think, you know, you actually you meant mentioned safety. Yeah, which is health and safety, which is so important. And again, you know, we might do a risk assessment is when they're whizzing around our house doing a survey, but when it's on a much bigger scale, and you're dealing with bigger projects, you know, there's a worry that you might get things wrong, but I see this as a common thread with surveys that I work with, or coach or come across in different capacities. And it's that fear of failure, that fear of getting things wrong, either because they might get sued, or, you know, the real consequences, sometimes life or death, depending on what kind of project you're working on. Have there been times where you've already felt that that fear or, you know, and oh, yeah, have you got through that?

Bill Jones:

Goodness me, I've had some incidents since Yeah, over the years, I must admit, I've been always reading. First time we ever really struck me was I suppose that time of Suzy Lamplugh that was first out really struck me because we were Yeah, at the time, I worked with a company. And I remember just to the same week, there was one of my peers in the organization she went to do. She used to do with residential lettings. And the practice was in private practice in those days. They're sort of mid to late 80s. And she, you know, went to see someone this guy proposition that you know, and she just basically, she stood up to it. And but she said, she's a very assertive person. But she said, if you sent somebody else who wasn't as assertive, you could have got quite nasty. And she never mobile phone, and there's no doubt then nobody happened. And remember, a couple of years later, I worked at a huge role in my boss when I worked in government in the early 90s. When one of the ladies in my team, she had her own mobile phone, but he wouldn't buy them for the office. It No, it wasn't, it was late 90s. It was when I worked for the police authority. And we wouldn't sanction feels everyone else has got buying getting phones and using them. But she had her own lucky shadow because it was a situation developed on site. And luckily, because she had the phone, she could ring the office and get somebody to help that. And we also rang the police and she was okay. I mean, it was just verbal altercation, but it could have got really nasty, and the boss wouldn't Yeah, we said, well, that's her problem. No, it's not, is your problem, because you've that we have, you know, there's no such thing as risk assessments, you know, there's only one a joint shell that really understood what how to do you know, how you assess risk, and how you manage risk, was what really taught me how to read manage that kind of risks, and she was really hot on that kind of stuff. And always be grateful for that experience. But, you know, since then I've Yeah, I remember when I was with Michelle, I had a couple of nasty situations where we were managing big estates where you'd go out and you'd be literally walking across, you know, pieces of land, and you'd encounter things like we had authorized travelers on land, for example, and shell land, that could get very, very nasty, you know, that kind of situation where you'd have to try and manage it, but even shell, you know, was not perfect in how they expose you to that kind of situation.

Marion Ellis:

And the thing that thing is we look at health and safety or do these assessments, in terms of what does it say on paper, you know, the size of things and the risk of certain things happening, but we're also dealing with human beings, and we are unpredictable. As much as the human beings that might be tenants are on land or, or whatever. And that's always hard and we just, we just don't take into account of that. And I think people look at surveyors or, you know, engineer As or whatever as you know, we're like robots very robotic and technical in our in our work. But we're also humans at the end of the day. And so things like, and I noticed this, when I dealt with claims was that if somebody wasn't having a good day, or they had something going on, they were more likely to make a mistake. You know, you know, when you're tired, you're more likely to be clumsy into and to hurt yourself. And so our well being our physical, mental and emotional well being is absolutely critical to our health and safety, and the health and safety of others. And yet, we don't really factor that in Not, not properly we, you talked about in early days knocking on that chaps door, and you know, I can imagine you were pretty nervous, and, you know, all the feelings, that bundle of feelings that, that come come with that. And if we don't help people feel secure and supported, then we just become an A hand emotional worry bag of worries if you like, and that doesn't help us do our jobs properly or better or learn well, either. So So in, you know, so like, well being, you know, like, you should just love a green smoothie. And now some sleep and go for a run. But it's so much more about that. And more than that, and I think given that we're dealing with the places that people live and work, you know, it has a, for me, it's, it's where we need to pay more attention to is, you know,

Bill Jones:

do you have people to speak out, especially, I think you're especially in this part of the world, people don't automatically speak out about their problems at work. And once you don't, that you can't force them to, I think there's ways in which you can find, you can try and find out more about people's challenges, they have a whole reason, for example of the pandemic. I mean, a lot of employers wanted that workforce to come back, but some of them here in Singapore, or Hong Kong, live in very small apartments, where there's four generations of the family. And if you got that situation, trying to work, the environment where you've got that for generations, can be extinguished impossible, without, you know, but they've gone through, I mean, how people people's resilience is just fantastic. But at the same time, the well being thing is, is what is just as important as personal, personal safety now, there are so it's, you know, it to me, it's just as important now, and it's raised, it's raised up, and that's one area where people used to leave with leave employers because of it and wouldn't say so. Are they actually could say, it was a horrible boss, but if it was a boss that didn't tune into their, their own personal needs, and just didn't say, take those into full consideration just said, is this, just get on with it kind of thing, it's, you know, it was the mentality, which has been a global problem, I think, and we re addressed it now with the COVID world, but with this still, we still need to constantly think about it. And not just managers, but peers, as well have a duty to raise it with in team meetings or with managers to alert them to the problems and that's where trust comes in, you got to build a trust, in order for peers to share their information with a manager. And so somebody's got a problem there. You need as a manager to build that trust with people where they can share that

Marion Ellis:

is, you know, these, all of these things, you know, don't happen without consequence. You know, it shapes and and changes. And I guess really, you know, just as we we've talked about, it's just especially we think actually about, you know, the our ICs. You know, when I said standard regulation body, how could it be your friend as well. But actually, you know, that whole well being piece and who we are is so important to the work we do that there is a loop there. It's just finding that right, right, right combination, and we've got to look after each other I know we saw this particularly in this debate your hub and suddenly the networks I'm in that surveyors did reach out to support each other and you don't have to be a full on mentor. You know, sometimes it is just that check in. Are you okay? And here's something I've learned. And that feeling of connection is is so human. Well, it's been lovely to talk to you today. Really good luck, so much for joining me. Thanks for listening. Don't forget to take a look at the show notes when you get a chance the resources and links we mentioned in the podcast. The lips main podcast is not sponsored. So I'd really appreciate it if you could show your support by sharing the podcast with others leaving a review or simply buying us a coffee. Find out more about becoming a supporter by visiting live surveying.com forward slash the survey. I'll see you next time.

About the Podcast

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The Surveyor Hub Podcast
For surveyors who love surveying

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Marion Ellis

As a chartered surveyor with a background in defect and valuation claims, Marion has first-hand experience of why we make mistakes and what we need to do to support ourselves to prevent them. A Fellow member of the RICS and qualified customer experience professional, Marion is passionate about empowering people. At Love Surveying, she provides the support, coaching and networking surveyors and property professionals need to handle career challenges confidently and navigate the right business journey for them. Founder of The Surveyor Hub podcast and community Marion also supports surveyors in business through her coaching and mentoring programmes. Marion is an Ambassador for Lionheart.