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6 JUN 2018

RICS Young Surveyor of the Year: winning mentor shares his views

The 2018 Young Surveyor of the Year Awards are now open for nominations. To help inspire people to enter this year’s awards, we caught up with Tom Wallbank, RICS Matrics Mentor of the Year 2017, who explains why mentoring is high on his agenda and looks to others to help develop the industry.

I was humbled and delighted to win Mentor of the Year at the RICS Matrics Awards 2017. As someone who has benefited both from having a mentor and subsequently mentoring others, I value the role and want to promote the advantages to others.

Capturing talent early on

My own mentoring journey began in the early stages of my career when I had support from a number of inspirational figures. Their guidance, mirrored by my ambitions and appetite to learn, positively assisted my introduction to the industry and my subsequent career progression.

At the time, being mentored helped me develop the skills needed to do my job and become chartered. My softer skills and non-technical aspects of my role, such as my approach to networking, business development and client engagement, were refined along with a conscious focus on self-presentation and building my personal brand. I also became a more loyal and engaged team member thanks to my mentor’s input and direction.

Today, I’m a Regional Director of SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business based in the Nottingham office, and I lead a team of 23 quantity surveyors across the East Midlands. I want to inspire and motivate my staff, facilitating them to be the best versions of themselves. For those early in their careers, I’m keen to help identify their strengths as well as cover any gaps in experience. 

Mentoring for all and not just the few

Whilst those early in their careers are a key focus group for mentoring, anyone can benefit from having a mentor, so long as they are willing and open to the concept. I try to spend quality time with all my staff, but I would never force mentoring on anyone. I want my guidance to be individually triggered, as well as individually tailored, as people have very different needs. No one needs to do everything their mentor suggests; just cherry pick what’s most useful to their own development needs.

I think about their progress and how we can create space for them to rise in the organisation  it makes sense to promote from within. I’m delighted that this happened six times last year within our team, with two further promotions this year.

For our trainees, I offer monthly group sessions where they take it in turns to act as chair, getting experience in agenda setting and management of meetings. A trainee gives a presentation at each session, building their confidence in a safe and supportive environment. I encourage them to shadow colleagues on projects, accompanying them to meetings whenever possible, as I did myself when starting out.

They also have the opportunity to improve their self-presentation, review their technical skills, and develop their writing skills. Much of this will be aligned with their RICS progression.

Ways you can mentor

The RICS APC pathway provides candidates with a supervisor and a counsellor. The counsellor is effectively a mentor as well as ensuring the candidate gains the required range and depth of experience and training. I fulfil this formal role for many of our staff. For anyone interested in becoming an APC counsellor, RICS provides useful training and guidance for the role.

SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business offers mentoring to any staff member who wants it, and are constantly on the lookout for new mentors. It’s a rewarding and privileged role  you’re investing in the future of others, contributing to your profession, and, as a bonus, it’s also excellent for your own continuing self-development and leadership skills. I highly recommend getting involved and reaping the rewards it brings.