Undertaking your APC in a pandemic!

Continuing our series of articles looking at the challenges – and blessings! – of working for John Rowan and Partners during a pandemic, this week we spoke to Asmita Kerai who joined the company back in September 2017 as a graduate surveyor.

Q1         What made you choose John Rowan and Partners for your first job?

I graduated from Reading University with a BSc in Quantity Surveying. I’d already enjoyed a successful 10-week summer placement with John Rowan and Partners and assisted in delivering a quantity surveying role on projects such as Sainsbury’s, Stonegate pubs, and a residential refurbishment project in East London.

As the friendly, flexible and professional environment appealed to me, I decided to take up the offer of a full-time role!


Q2         Did they throw you in at the deep end?

I’ve been part of many projects already, starting off my first year in the Public Sector Regeneration team increasing my knowledge and technical skills including assessing no less than 177 final accounts!

I am now currently juggling two residential projects as well as being seconded to Camden Council, working in the client’s office. This has helped me with my time management skills and efficiency as well as negotiating with contractors to meet client needs.

I also started the journey towards becoming APC accredited.


Q3         How have you found the graduate programme support from John Rowan and Partners and your path to becoming chartered?

I think it’s been great. It has been good to be on the scheme with other graduates, as it helps you bond with people, even if they’re on a different team, and follow the process together.

You also have your own supervisor and counsellor, which really does push you to do the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

John Rowan and Partners is looking at ways to improve the number of chartered surveyors within the business and set up a new training forum to use the experience of senior partners to help their newest members of staff like me to achieve accreditation.  The APC Club, candidates are supported through the process as a team by three accredited assessors and 27 MRICS accredited members of staff. That’s a lot of support!

Each candidate gets allocated an assessor and supervisor, we had monthly meetings in order to track progress and ensure we were provided with all the help and support needed.

There were also bespoke in-house training sessions run monthly by both internal and external experts in the field. The company funds all the required training, travel, resources, and a weeks’ dedicated study leave for every individual.

It’s great to have that kind of support and that extra push, but they can only push you so far as you need to drive it yourself.


Q3         What were the challenges for you obtaining your APC during lockdown?

I took two-and-a-half years in all to complete the work required, so not all of it was under pandemic conditions. The APC Club was a great help.

I think the main thing was having to do an on-line interview for the assessment rather than the usual face-to-face version. Because of Covid, RICS took the decision to take a virtual approach for final assessment interviews.

The process was very organised, not only on the day but beforehand, too. They’d prepared tutorial sessions in the weeks running up to the actual assessment for all the candidates where they went through how the process was going to be, what to expect and so on. There was also lots of on-line help and support, with Q&As and videos.

And even the night before they held another discussion and then they talked through it again, just like a refresher. And they linked us up with a woman who did an online yoga session, with deep breathing exercises and so on. That was really appreciated.

I think I was actually less nervous doing it this way – otherwise I’d have been stressing about having to drive to Heathrow and worrying about how I was going to perform.


Q4         What are you most looking forward to as we slowly get back to normal?

I’m looking forward to being able to physically get back to seeing people in the office. Everyone’s from different backgrounds, has different lives and experience, and that really broadens your knowledge and outlook.


Q5         What would you say to anyone considering joining John Rowan and Partners?

Working here is a pleasure. I enjoy the great benefits such as a generous bonus scheme, flexible working hours, the ability to work from home and casual dress Fridays. I’m glad to be part of such a great team who are supportive and help with my development. That’s what I like, that balance. People can enjoy their personal life and their work life. And I think John Rowan and Partners have nailed that.

So I’d say, do it!