With the better part of two decades in the industry, Paul Cravens is an experienced Quantity Surveyor and Worksmart’s Commercial Director. We sat down with him to get his insight into his role and hear his advice for someone looking to make a career in Quantity Surveying.
Tell me a bit about your working background and how you joined Worksmart?
After graduating with an honours degree in Quantity Surveying I went to work for a number of years with property developers, firstly in the Isle of Man and then latterly in Glasgow. In 2008, a colleague of mine and I set up our own cost consultancy, focusing on helping subcontractors with difficult clients or problematic projects. In addition, we worked alongside project clients and acted as Quantity Surveyor on their behalf.
Prior to my employment with Worksmart, Steve and I had known each other for a number of years and after we’d got chatting one day over a few drinks, landed on the idea that Worksmart would be a good fit for both parties! That was it really. At that point, the company had four office based staff including me and our turnover was around £1.8M. Six years on and the business has grown and developed significantly since my early days. Including our site staff we have now over forty direct employees and will turnover just less than £10M this year.
Describe your role and the responsibilities you have?
As Commercial Director, it’s my responsibility to manage and direct the Commercial Team. We’re responsible for all commercial aspects of the business, so that goes from placing sub-contract orders, negotiating contract terms, agreeing prices, negotiating final accounts with clients, to dealing with any contractual issues that arise during the course of any projects that we’re working on. In addition, we report regularly on the financial performance of the projects that are ongoing.
As well as that Director role, I have my own projects that I commercially manage. At the minute, this includes a couple of projects with our client Ayrshire College, as well as various refurbishment works taking place at Kilmarnock Football Club’s Rugby Park Stadium.
What’s your best piece of advice for a young person looking to get into this sector?
I would say that the best route is to get a Quantity Surveying degree under your belt. Although degrees aren’t everything, they show a level of commitment that someone has to have to get that degree and see it through to the end.
After that, I’d suggest finding somewhere that fits with them and what they want to do; the type of company and organisation they want to work for is important. There’s lots of options for Quantity Surveyors out there: going to work for sub-contractors, going to work for private Quantity Surveying firms or going to work for a contractor like Worksmart. Pick one of these options, find the company in that sector that can provide you with the best training and experience and try to do it almost like an apprenticeship.
If you do the degree course full time – as I did – you will have only a small amount of practical experience and once you graduate you need to work on accumulating that experience over a number of years, on various projects. So it is essential that you find the company that will give you the broadest range of experience and the opportunity to climb the ladder once you have had the opportunity to prove yourself.
When you get out of the office, what do you like getting up to?
I like spending time with friends and family, socialising, participating in and watching sports. About two months ago I started going to the gym again and I’m trying my best to walk that line and make sure I don’t fall off the wagon! I’ve been successful so far!