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News & opinion

18 DEC 2018

“Put your hand up”: becoming a Young Achiever

The Young Achiever of the Year Award acknowledges outstanding young professionals who, having embarked upon the journey to professionalism through RICS, have achieved excellence in their field. We meet James McCafferty MRICS from AECOM, joint winner at the RICS Awards New Zealand in 2018.

The winning project

Following the Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand in November 2016, a targeted assessment program identified a number of problems with hollow-core slabs in existing buildings in the Wellington region.

Under a confidentially agreement, I worked closely with a key client to assist them in understanding the potential cost to rectify one of their flagship buildings in Wellington. Throughout 2017, I was involved in preparing numerous estimates, ranging from NZD$25–$55 million.

Of these, three estimates involved providing cost advice for intricate repairs to hollow-core slabs, based on designs that had never been tested. This involved working closely with structural engineers and contractors to develop a solution that was both cost effective and could be achieved within program.

Ultimately, the advice given enabled the client to make an informed decision on the future of the building.

There are a lot of great ideas and technologies out there – we just need to keep working together to make the impossible possible.

James McCafferty MRICS, AECOM

Future challenges and opportunities

The biggest challenge facing the industry is the successful and cohesive adoption of technology, in a way that benefits the design team, clients and end users. This, along with global mobility driven by labour shortages, is also the greatest opportunity.

RICS has taken a huge step forward to support this future with stage one of the governance changes being passed by the membership. Moving to a more globally representative and diverse Governing Council is key for the future of the profession.

The changes have the chance to bring fresh ideas and diverse insights.

Advice for young professionals

Without ever saying anything, my father taught me a very important lesson. You need to work hard, and you need to work hard every day. This is something every young professional needs to remember.

Read the article, challenge yourself, listen, ask the question, put your hand up, work that extra hour, mentor others. Your career is in your hands.

Value of RICS

Being a Chartered Surveyor brings accountability to my work. I have a responsibility to conduct my work to the highest standard and with the utmost integrity. It also means that I’m recognised for my expertise, and ongoing commitment to ethical practice and upholding professional standards. I take great pride in this.

Winning this award demonstrates to my clients that they’re getting the best service out there – it’s very satisfying to know the hard work is paying off.

It has also presented new opportunities to build my professional profile. For example, a few months after the award ceremony, I was invited to speak at an Infrastructure New Zealand event in Auckland, titled “millennials leading the way”.

The event was attend by approximately 50 young professionals from the Auckland region and I was given the opportunity to discuss my career to date, my future goals and my inspirations, along with offering tips for how to stand out in your career.

Achieving my MRICS in December 2014 was the highlight of my career, however being awarded the joint winner of the young achiever of the year tops that. My proudest achievement is ahead of me.

James McCafferty MRICS, AECOM

My next goal is to achieve RICS fellowship – I want to join an honoured class of membership. This is a long-term goal, but I have a structured plan in place to help achieve it.

About James

After graduating from university, I spent the next five years on site, working for contractors in both Ireland and the UK. Since then, I worked with AECOM in London before moving to Wellington, New Zealand. I enrolled on the RICS APC program on my first day with AECOM and spent the next two years working towards my chartership, which was awarded in December 2014.

Since January 2017, I have also worked with the Open Polytechnic University in Wellington on a part-time basis. My responsibilities involve tutoring students online, marking assignments and re-writing course material as required.