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Colin Harrop - BSc (Hons) Building Surveying

After completing his BSc (Hons) in Building Surveying, Colin went on to build a career as a chartered surveyor.

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What, would you say, are your career highlights?

“After completing my BSc (Hons) in Building Surveying, I went on to build a career as a chartered surveyor. Until 2015 I was a Director at Jones Lang LaSalle and I’m now a Partner of Sanderson Wetherall LLP. I have worked on a variety of buildings and schemes, from listed lighthouses to the Top of the Pops studio. I have also appeared on the BBC as a surveying expert.

“I had a very strange start to my life as a surveyor; being first taught to blow buildings up and then working back to their creation. I have always loved the longevity of buildings and believe that there is wisdom in the old quote ‘We shape the things that we build and thereafter they shape us’. One of the really great things about the property world is that no two buildings, projects or days are quite the same. I am lucky to work with a great team at Sanderson Weatherall and my days might be spent in the office applying fresh thinking to solve problems or on-site gathering information.”

What kind of skills have you honed during your career?

“As a Building Surveyor it might seem strange to say it, but my job is about 25% about buildings and 75% about people so it’s very varied. In one year, I looked at some work that was taking place on new stadia built for the football World Cup in Brazil; and also worked on a new home space for two children who had been abused and neglected. The changes to the house were meticulously considered and had the end effect of making the children feel safe and welcome and really made a positive impact on their lives. The World Cup stadia was a big subject, but I’m prouder of the hard work that had so much impact on two young lives.”

A life without any tough challenges would be one without any adventure and not much interest to anybody.

Has Leeds Beckett played a part in your career success?

“When I tell people that I studied at Leeds Beckett they take it as given that I’ve acquired a decent technical background. The course also taught me lots about other important skills such as working with other people, negotiation and using time effectively.

“In the work that I’ve done with Leeds Beckett University I’ve had access to fresh thinking from fantastic minds who have often challenged the way that I do things and asked me difficult questions. If I have given something of value to the university, I’m very pleased about that; but I would still say I’ve received a lot more from the university in return.”

How do you contribute to your industry?

“I love the fact that I can aim for a sweet spot in the advice that I give. When a tailored solution is good for the client I’m advising, it will be good for the planet and wider society and good for my own business. I also love the fact that I work with inspiring people who are trying to do the same. I am lucky to be part of an organisation that is big enough to tackle the biggest problems, but small enough to care passionately about the outcome.

“I think that our industry has an image problem whereby roles on site are seen as limited and messy and those of the professionals are seen as dull and unimaginative. I’d love to wave a magic wand so that people saw our industry as the fast-paced, imaginative, friendly and challenging space that it really is.”

What advice would you give to the younger you?

“I would probably tell myself just to do the things that you feel strongly about – and stick with it when it gets tough. A life without any tough challenges would be one without any adventure and not much interest to anybody.”

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