Author: McCluskey Surveyors
Blog 1: Hello
As you can probably appreciate, we had some free time during lockdown and so we thought we’d take a minute tell you a bit more about us and why we established McCluskey Surveyors.
Aaron - I grew up in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in East London and moved to Devon with my family in 1996. My Dad, and most of the men in my family, worked in construction, and as a kid my Dad would take me on site (probably not the best health and safety training...but it got me interested in construction from a young age). I met Em through a mutual friend when I was 15 and doing my GCSE’s. When I was doing my A-levels, it became very apparent that I did not see a career for myself in photography (as I had planned), and given my upbringing, a career in construction seemed like the most natural progression for me. Though it was more like I fell into the industry, rather than chose it. I gained an apprenticeship in Site Carpentry and Joinery with the company that my dad worked for (yes he may have had something to do with it), and studied at the old South Devon College site at the top of Torquay town, and made friends for life there.
I was fortunate to work in the South Hams, working on some really great properties along the South Devon coastline. However, anyone in the industry will know that winter is hard, especially when cutting in a roof in -10oC conditions. It was times like this, whilst at college sitting next to one of my best friends talking about how we didn’t want to work on site all our lives, that led us to think it would be a good idea to do our NVQ3 in Site Carpentry and Joinery, which essentially meant that there would be less ‘on the tools’ work and more site foreman/ management work. It is funny how history repeats itself - because a year later we had the same conversation about doing our Higher National Certificate (HNC) together, to get off site altogether, and maybe become Project Managers (later on in life I learnt about my own personality and why PM work was not for me!)
Whilst I was doing my HNC, there was a module on building surveying and this really sparked my interest. It was this experience that led me to look at the wider possibilities of working in construction. By this point, Em and I had moved into our first home and I had been working and earning for a number of years and didn’t want to go back to full-time education. So I applied to the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol on their part-time Building Surveying degree programme. This meant travelling to Bristol every week for three years but here I met some of the best people I will ever know, and really enjoyed this experience. I graduated in 2012, however, at this time the UK was just coming out of a recession and employment opportunities were few and far between. This meant that I had to continue working as a Site Carpenter and Joiner and taking unpaid leave to do voluntary work experience with a local practice to keep up my skills.
I was fortunate to find my first role at a local Building Surveying firm in 2013. However, sadly this didn’t last long. This was a small company and it wasn’t financially effective for them to hire a trainee at this time. I was made redundant later the same year. This is unfortunately quite common in the construction industry as I had already been made redundant twice before - all before the glorious age of 30. By this time Em and I were recently married and we were due to go on honeymoon a month later. (The cover photo to this blog is Em and I on honeymoon in Italy in 2013). This made me quite keen to one day be able to work for myself but I wasn’t ready yet. In 2015, I finally found an employer that was willing to give me an opportunity to undertake my Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) to become a Chartered Surveyor. The local authority I worked for provided a great opportunity to gain experience and pass the APC, which essentially prepared me for starting our own practice, at least on a part time basis. After two and a half years, I undertook my APC and became a Chartered Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The next year we set up McCluskey Surveyors part-time and officially launched full-time at the end of 2019.
Emma - My path into the construction industry was a little less traditional. I am born and bred in South Devon and my family still live in my childhood home about a mile down the road from where we live now. I went to an all girls school and honestly had no idea what I wanted to do when I left. Whilst at school, my best subject was design and technology which should have given me some indication. I met Aaron when I was 16 and with a likely future in construction, this did spark my interest for a fleeting moment, but girls don’t work in construction, right?! So, when work experience week came around, I visited the HR department of the local hospital, where I ended up working for the next 15 years! I started in an admin role and was quickly looking for my next opportunity. I completed my leadership and management qualifications but was still keen to further my education, and career. At this time Aaron was considering joining UWE, so I started to review my next steps too. If we were both considering attending university, we may as well start at the same time so neither of us could be tempted by a social life for the next 3-4 years! (Although we did buy our first home and get married in this time just to add to the pressure!) #suchfun
Like Aaron, I had been working, and earning, full-time for a number of years now and couldn’t afford to return to full-time study. I applied to study through distance learning with the Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS) at the University of Leicester to start a BSc (Hons) in HR Management. During my second year, I studied a module on Equality and Diversity which became a life long passion. As I was working in Recruitment at the time, I decided to write my dissertation on inclusive recruitment practices, specifically in relation to how organisations can attract, hire, and retain talent from diverse backgrounds and the benefits on organisational performance. Little did I know at the time, that this would form the foundation of my remaining career in the NHS.
I graduated in 2013 and was fortunate to be appointed as Diversity and Inclusion Lead. In this role I was able to gain experience in Organisational Development, and had the opportunity to train as a Coach. I also gained professional accreditation and became a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This experience gave me a solid foundation to later return to apply my knowledge as a Project Manager in Talent Management and Values-Based Recruitment.
With Aaron now qualified as a Chartered Surveyor, we established McCluskey Surveyors part-time in early 2018. Here, I started as the company’s Business Manager, using my skills in Project Management and HR. We were both still working full-time but working with our own clients at evening and weekends. I loved working with our own clients and wanted to be more operationally involved so I learnt how to provide architectural services and technical drawings for clients. At the end of 2018, I took some time to reflect on my future and with the help and guidance of a few close friends and colleagues, came to the decision in early 2019 that it was time for a change. A big one. I left my permanent, safe, public sector employment and committed to McCluskey Surveyors full-time. Eek!
Whilst my primary role was still as Business Manager, I wanted to ensure that I had the technical knowledge to support our clients. So, I enrolled on my HNC in Construction and the Built Environment (again through distance learning) and passed with Distinction. Now, with two years experience behind me, I applied and was successful in becoming an Associate Member of the RICS in early 2020. I now split my time between designing extensions for clients, and managing the ever expanding business. I guess girls can work in construction after all! 😃
Since launching full-time late last year, we have been faced with Brexit, a general election, some of the worst winter storms, and Covid-19. We wondered at this point if the universe was trying to tell us something! But we used this time off for reflection. We learnt about our personal values and how these form the foundation of our company ethos. We also used this time to focus on the needs of our local community. So now, we are on a mission to make home surveys more accessible to everyone. We believe every person deserves to know that the roof over their head will keep them, and their families safe. We provide access to free education and advice so people can make informed decisions, offering ultimate peace of mind.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about us. We’ll be back again soon with some more exciting developments to our services and resources.
Watch this space!
Aaron and Emma
23rd June 2020