Partner at Stephensons & Son Davina Fillingham MRICS tells us what it's like to be a rural practice surveyor in her own words.

Davina Fillingham.jpg
  • RICS Young Surveyor of the Year Award for the Rural category in 2015
  • Nuffield Farming Scholarship award in 2013

It’s tricky to describe a day as “typical” as each day is so varied.

One day I could be providing advice on everything from land and estate management to planning and renewable energy, right through to valuations and managing the sale and purchase of land and farms. The next, I could be travelling around Yorkshire visiting farms and estates, learning how their businesses work and providing counsel depending on their needs or leading an auction at one of our machinery sales.

With the rural sector being so closely connected with agriculture and food production, farmers and land managers look to us for advice on how to sustainably manage the demands of the growing population and their impact on land and the environment. It truly is one of the most diverse sectors in surveying.

I also have a number of clients who are young farmers and new entrants into farming who are looking to establish their new businesses and take on new land. With my assistance, one such client has recently taken on a Farm Business Tenancy of 140 acres, following a tender process that required a farm business plan, five year cash flow projection and budget, which I helped prepare. It has been very rewarding to see his farming business develop and he has recently been approached to take on another neighbouring farm.

What route did you take?

I pursued a career in rural surveying following my completion of a BSc Hons in Rural Land Management from the Royal Agricultural University. It was one of the few professions that allowed me to merge two of my passions: agriculture and the management of the countryside.

I then joined Halls as a graduate surveyor. In 2005, I joined Stephensons & Son where, over the course of 10 years, I’ve honed my trade and progressed through the ranks to become a partner.

The Nuffield Scholarship allowed me to travel the globe to investigate the latest technology in global positioning systems and remote optical sensors. The knowledge and insight I gained has enabled me to advise customers and colleagues on how better to understand and implement these new technologies and create more efficient businesses, whilst protecting the environment.

The best bit

Being a rural surveyor gives me with the opportunity to help shape the rural environment and community for the future — plus, I get to work outside a lot. Each day brings a new challenge. This can range from helping a farmer plan a farm conservation scheme, through to providing an estate manager with valuations for potential rental properties.

Through my research with the Nuffield Scholarship, I have also been able to influence policy around the introduction of new technologies into rural land management. The advice my team and I share on a daily basis helps shape the rural environment and community for the future. Management of the land is a key consideration in the world’s ability to feed a growing population on a limited supply of land and the importance of this should not be underestimated.

Being a member of RICS brings an unrivalled level of regulation to clients and provides them, and employers, peace of mind that I’m knowledgeable of the latest processes, regulations and practises, not only in the UK but across the globe.

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