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My RICS: Said Gulu-zada, commercial manager

My RICS: Said Gulu-zada, commercial manager

Said is a PMP-certified construction professional based in Baku, Azerbaijan, with 10 years of experience in the construction industry. He recently joined RICS as an Associate Member (AssocRICS) – the first Azerbaijani to do so.

Said strongly believes that emerging markets need professionals speaking the same language when it comes to integrity and multi-disciplinary projects.

Tell us about your background.

I studied history at university and then started working for a company importing cement. At that time, I was taking care of written translations of contracts and oral translations during meetings. I was also coordinating activities related to construction of cement factories in the Garadagh and Gazakh regions.

With my experience in contracts, I moved to procurement which then became cost control and finally – thanks to a PMP certificate in the US and an MBA – I arrived at project management. I’m currently working as commercial manager for a construction company in Baku – as I’ve always enjoyed relationships with different stakeholders, from clients to contractors and sub-contractors.

Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku

How was a historian attracted to the construction sector?

The construction sector has experienced explosive growth over the past decade in Azerbaijan and it has become an important pillar of our economy. Baku, our capital, is rapidly developing with a lot of ambitious construction projects, such as the Flame Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid.

But, as with other sectors that are impacting our cities and environment, construction needs multi-disciplinary inputs from different professionals and mindsets. This is why I felt motivated to develop my career in this field.

What does it mean being professional in your market?

The definition of being professional can have different connotations depending on the market, but features like intelligence, motivation and discipline are international and relevant to all countries.

Having said that, I have to add that there’s a specific trend in my market connected to our historical background: the concept of best practice. When we exited the Soviet Union in the 1990s, many foreign oil and gas companies arrived in Azerbaijan and started talking about best practice and transparency. Nowadays, this same expectation on professionalism applies to professionals in construction.

How does your qualification as AssocRICS help you in the market?

I’m very proud to be the first Azerbaijani to join RICS as an Associate Member. The RICS presence in the country is still limited with only four MRICS and one FRICS, but with the construction sector flourishing demand will rapidly increase.

Baku, Azerbaijan
Baku Crystal Hall: one of the city's many large-scale recent construction projects

Telecommunications, transportation and retail are also growing and attracting foreign investment, therefore international best practice will be a must.

What I also value in my qualification is how my practical experience is complemented by a theoretical framework which embeds high-quality professional and ethical standards.

How do you collaborate with MRICS and FRICS professionals at a local or international level?

One of my senior peers is MRICS and he’s the one who suggested I join RICS. He’s an international senior professional in quantity surveying and we collaborate daily on the commercial management of construction projects.

My understanding of the market is very practical and solution oriented, so together we come up with contrasting ideas. He has extensive expertise in construction and I’m glad I’m accompanied by such a mentor to fine tune my decision-making skills.

Looking abroad, I have not worked yet on international collaboration with other RICS professionals, but it’s definitely in the plans.

How can a multi-disciplinary approach improve the built environment?

The built environment is multi-disciplinary by itself. In construction project management, identifying relevant stakeholders and filtering information from different disciplines are relevant and formalised steps for a successful completion of the project. It means on-time delivery and good cost management. In one word, it means quality.

Find out more about RICS membership