Life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor

Having recently joined the Worksmart team through our Graduate Program, Cameron Maudsley talks to us about life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor. Cameron has a bright future ahead of him and is a great role model for other young people looking to enter the industry.

How long have you been with Worksmart Contracts and how have you found settling in?

I have been at Worksmart for just under 2 months so far but since my first day I have felt very welcome within the company. After being introduced and working alongside the team, it is obvious that Worksmart Contracts go to serious lengths to provide an enjoyable and positive working environment. This helps to ensure the team are as productive and efficient as possible.

After only 2 months of employment I have been accepted as a valued employee, making the settling in process very enjoyable and straightforward.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have within Worksmart?

The team have been incredibly eager to push my abilities forward by consistently adding new roles and responsibilities to my job. The tasks I’ve been given the responsibility of dealing with include: attending sites and writing up reports, engaging and building relationships with subcontractors, as well as taking measurements from architect’s drawings.

Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

During my years throughout high school I always took an interest Mathematics and Physics as they were based on calculations that were applicable to everyday life. However, I had no thoughts as to what career path I wanted to pursue. After carefully researching my options and discovering the Quantity Surveying (BSc) course at Edinburgh Napier University, I was intrigued. The concept that a job could involve problem solving in both an office and on-site appealed to me and encouraged me to apply for the course. Working in the construction field as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor in Worksmart Contracts has enhanced my enthusiasm for the job and reassured me of my decision.

How did your working relationship with Worksmart materialise?

I was given the opportunity to work for Worksmart Contracts through Edinburgh Napier University after my course leader received an email from the Commercial Manager offering an opportunity to interview regarding a Trainee Quantity Surveyor position.

How would you describe Worksmart as a company and how do you feel you have been supported as a graduate?

Worksmart have been very supportive of my career by ensuring that I am always taking on new tasks to expand my knowledge of the field of work. They have invested in me as an individual and are constantly pushing me forward so that I may learn new skills to be the become an experienced Quantity Surveyor at the end of my training.

Do you feel students at university are given enough encouragement and support to move into grad schemes?

For my first few years in university, I was aware that graduate apprenticeship schemes existed but wasn’t aware of how beneficial they could be. My time spent working as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor has expanded my knowledge which has helped me grasp concepts of my course that will help me in my future years of studying.

How do you think Worksmart’s graduate program compares to others that you have read about, spoke to people about etc?

Personally, Worksmart’s graduate program offers a lot more benefits to other programs that I am aware of through course mates, friends and colleagues. This is due to the value I have been given as an employee opposed to being treated like a number in a system which has been the case for multiple friends working graduate apprenticeships within the construction industry.

Where would you like to be in 5 years career wise?

In 5 years’ time I would hope to be a fully Qualified Quantity Surveyor and dealing with my own individual projects within Worksmart.

What’s your best piece of advice for someone in the position you were in 5 years ago?

The advice I’d give to someone in the position I was in 5 years ago would be to encourage them to ensure they choose a career path based on the subjects they enjoy the most. Having a solid foundation in the core subjects involved in a job is key to advancing your career.

When you’re not in the office or on site, what do you like getting up to?

Outside of my job I enjoy playing guitar, mountaineering and travelling.

If you could choose to do any other job in the world, what would it be and why?

If I didn’t have the opportunity to be a Quantity Surveyor and had the option of any job, I would have chosen to be an astronomer due to my interest in physics and space.

Interested in joining the Worksmart Family? View our recruitment page here. 

Laying the Foundations – Gary Roberston, Operations Manager

This interview is designed to uncover the stories behind the people at Worksmart and their careers until this point. How you got to where you are today, essentially.

Gary, thanks for sitting down to answer a few questions today! Hope we haven’t caught you on a busy day?

Most days are quite busy to be honest… I don’t mind sparing a few minutes for a quick chat though.

How was your school life? Were you a good/bad student? Did you do as well as you could have in terms of grades?

School life for me was very sport orientated, I was very active in school, especially with football and squash. I wasn’t a particularly great student but academically I passed every exam that I studied for.

It’s difficult to say if I did as well as I could have done; probably not, as my main focus at school was sport. Every day I was either training or competing so even though it probably shouldn’t have been, sport was my number one priority back then.

Did construction appeal to you when you were young?

Sport was always my number one choice for a career, but after receiving a bad knee injury, any hopes I had of pursuing it as a career were dashed. When I was looking for a job it was very hard to get an apprenticeship in my area, so I knocked on every construction builder’s door until finally it paid off and I got an apprenticeship in joinery.

What were your next steps after high school?

I went straight into construction, through my apprenticeship. I was lucky that way. So many kids leave school not knowing what they want to do and with no structure. That’s why I’m so pleased when I see the apprentices coming through Worksmart. They’re given such a great opportunity and education and at Worksmart we’re helping so many people find a career; great careers too!

At that point could you have imagined yourself in the position you are now?

I was very fortunate that I came off the tools at aged 26 which is very early. I was involved in major refits, so I was working very close with the top management and that is when I decided that I wanted to progress. I think having that competitive edge in me from my sporting days helped me in that sense. I was always looking to improve and better myself.

What came before Worksmart professionally for you?

I was with Morris and Spottiswood working on Universities, retailers. I have worked on most sectors of the building trade, so I feel I have gained experience on all aspects of construction.

When did you first hear about Worksmart and what were your initial thoughts?

I had known about Worksmart for several years working in the fitout sector. What impressed me most was the professionalism and the high standard of work. You’d see a Worksmart job and everything would have been done to a better standard. Everything would be cleaner, more polished and that bit more impressive. For me, as someone that’s always trying to move up and progress, I saw Worksmart as the company I should be aspiring towards working for.

If you could go back and give 16-year-old you any advice, what would it be?

Don’t smash your knee! That would be my best advice! But also, work hard and always try to be better than you were yesterday. If you do that, and stay humble, you’ll get on OK in life.

A Day in The Life of a Trainee Quantity Surveyor: Dylan Parker

Hi Dylan, thanks for sitting down with me today. Before we delve into your day, could you give me a brief description of your job and your responsibilities within Worksmart?

No problem at all. I’ve been in the position for 18 months which also involves attending Glasgow Caledonian University one day a week. My role consists of assisting in all estimating and commercial aspects of the business. Although I mostly assist, I also have my own estimates and jobs to run as well – under the supervision of either the Commercial Director or the Estimating Director. It’s been fantastic to have been given so much responsibility despite being relatively new to the company.

What time do you wake up in the morning?


What’s your morning routine?

Shower, breakfast, get ready and then out the door and straight to the gym for a workout before heading into the office.

What’s for breakfast?

Porridge or toast. Or sometimes both!

When do you arrive at the office?

Usually about 7.50am.

What do you prioritise when you arrive?

Emails, if there are any. And then I’ll either pick up from where I left off the day before or start the next thing on my list.

What’s the biggest hurdle you need to overcome in your job?

That’s a difficult one. Probably my inexperience and being young. I’m only 20, so sometimes people don’t really take you seriously because of your age. Despite this, I have been given massive support from Worksmart and have been made to feel like I’m an integral part of the team. Working with such a great company and with such inspiring people is added motivation for me.

What part of your job do you love the most?

Meeting new people and speaking to different types of people. I enjoy this because it gives me the opportunity to learn from new people every day. You should always assume the person you’re speaking to knows something you don’t.

How many meetings do you have during the day?

I have the odd meeting, but I do quite a lot of speaking on the phone, I like that. I didn’t at first as I was quite nervous, but I’ve been gaining experience as time has gone on and I’m becoming more comfortable doing things that previously made me apprehensive.

When will you leave the office?

Usually 5.05pm. If there is more work that needs to be done, I’ll stay behind and do it though. You see a lot of people doing this at Worksmart. Everyone pulls their weight and has great desire to work hard, even when they’re not on the clock!

Does the work continue at home?

Not for Worksmart, but I have to do a lot of Uni work when I get home. Because I’m only there one day per week, there’s a lot to be done at home. It can be stressful from time to time, with such a heavy workload, but I’m lucky to be in this position and intend to put in the hard work to repay the faith Worksmart have shown in me and forge a successful career here.

A Day in the Life of: Barry Wilson, Estimating Director

A Day in The Life of: Worksmart’s Estimating Director

Worksmart’s Estimating Director Barry Wilson took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk us through an average day in his world.

Hi Barry, thanks for sitting down with me today. Before we delve into your day, could you give me a brief description of your position?

My job title is Estimating Director which entails the overseeing and managing of the pre-contract commercial and estimating function within Worksmart.

What time do you wake up in the morning?

Normally about 6.30am.

What kind of breakfast do you have to prepare you for your day?

I don’t eat breakfast. I only drink water in the mornings and quite a lot more throughout the day!

When do you arrive at the office?

It generally varies but will usually be any time between 7.30am and 8am.

What do you prioritise when you arrive?

First of all, I check on any emails from the night before then delve into whatever the priority is for that day, so long as any late-night e-mails received don’t need urgent attention.

What’s Next?

Whatever the next priority is for that day and that week and beyond. We tend to have a minimum of at least 3 to 4 deadlines to meet in any one week, so it may involve getting the team involved in take offs or getting packages out for pricing to sub-contractors or concluding bids and tenders for submission.

With estimating you’re always working to a deadline so you’re constantly prioritising which tender is due next or what package you need to get out next to make sure you get that tender in on time.

What part of the day do you least look forward to?

Probably first thing in the morning! I’m not much of a morning person even though I get up relatively early.

What part of the day do you most look forward to?

I most look forward to my dinner!

Seriously though, I enjoy the variety of people you come across in the day-to-day goings on in my role. Most are from the professional community, but others can be end-user clients that ordinarily don’t get involved with projects, so when that instance occurs you need to give them a guiding hand through it. That can entail practical advice as well as design input. The variety makes the role interesting as you’re not pigeon-holed with one type of client every day.

When will you leave the office?

It can vary but generally between 5.30pm and 6pm. Family life dictates those times with Dad’s taxi needed for football, child minder pick-ups and the likes. Although if there’s an important tender due in then that can be much later. The midnight oil gets burned now and again.

Does the work continue at home?

No, I try not to. I made a conscious decision recently to take email off of my phone and I feel a lot better for it. This is especially noticeable on holiday, where one minute you can be relaxing by the pool and all of a sudden, an email comes through and it plays on your mind till you get back to the office. Modern technology has taken over our lives I think to the detriment of our own wellbeing at times!

Kilmarnock Football Club taking Rugby Park into the Top Division in Corporate Hospitality

After a fabulous season in which Kilmarnock FC were taken to new heights by Steve Clark, the Killie board have followed suit and continued their support and development of the Club. Part of these new plans involved the transformation of the existing Executive Club into the new Champions Lounge, as well as a new reception area and staircase, along with the Chairman’s Club and Boardroom. Concepts and plans were agreed with local architects Thomson Hunter Architects, and Worksmart Contracts LTD secured the contract to carry out the work.

With a history of local success in Interior Fit outs and refurbishment transformations, Worksmart were selected to take on the projects during the close season with tight commercial budgets and even tighter programme timescales.

From the beginning, Worksmart stated that for the works to be a success, there had to be a positive and engaging client, architect and contractor, something that was achieved from start to finish.

This was a fabulous project for the Worksmart Team to be involved in. The local apprentices, joiners, partnering sub-contractors and material suppliers all took up the challenge and worked successfully alongside the Kilmarnock Board of Directors, staff and architects, completely refurbishing all areas to an exceptionally high standard of corporate hospitality.

Thomson Hunters Architects Partner Andrew Hunter stated: “Thomson Hunter Architects have recently been involved in delivering a successful fit-out project at Kilmarnock Football Club for the new Chairman’s Club and Champions Lounge.  Worksmart Contracts were chosen as the preferred contractor to deliver this complex project within a limited timescale.  Their experience in this field set them apart from their competitors and gave both the client and ourselves confidence that they were the right team for the job.

Throughout this project and others working with Worksmart, Steven, Lisa and the team have provided a professional, proactive and diligent service. The finished images of the Kilmarnock Football Club project reflect the quality of workmanship that both Thomson Hunter Architects and Worksmart strive to deliver for every client.”

From the strip out to asbestos removal, to a brand new state of the art facility which provides a comfortable experience to new and existing members: this is an experience the likes of which Ayrshire has never seen before. Worksmart’s Managing Director Stevie Neilson stated: “It has been remarkable the comments and delight from existing and new members along with the visitors from other clubs on match days. Great to see the membership being used in full.”

The Kilmarnock Football Club Board stated: “Worksmart Contracts were appointed to undertake the major refurbishment of two of our hospitality lounges within the stadium of Kilmarnock Football Club. There was a requirement to complete the work within a two month period to coincide with the start of the new football season.

“Worksmart Contracts not only completed the refurbishment within the timescale allocated, the standard and quality of their work was exemplary. Throughout the process, communication was excellent and any matters which arose were dealt with timeously.

“We were impressed by the professionalism of the team throughout the process and would have no hesitation in appointing Worksmart Contracts in the future.”

“Thomson Hunter Architects have recently been involved in delivering a successful fit-out project at Kilmarnock Football Club for the new Chairman’s Club and Champions Lounge. Worksmart Contracts were chosen as the preferred contractor to deliver this complex project within a limited timescale. Their experience in this field set them apart from their competitors and gave both the client and ourselves confidence that they were the right team for the job.

Throughout this project and others working with Worksmart, Steven, Lisa and the team have provided a professional, proactive and diligent service.

The finished images of the Kilmarnock Football Club project reflect the quality of workmanship that both Thomson Hunter Architects and Worksmart strive to deliver for every client.​”

– Thomson Hunter Architects

Click here to view the full Case Study.

#makeitworksmart #FitOutTop500 #WeAreKillie

Thanks to Professional Photography by Guy Hinks Photography

Check out our brand new project with Ayrshire College

For the second summer in a row, Worksmart Contracts have successfully completed an impressive development and refurbishment project for Ayrshire College.

The works at the Dam Park Building on Ayr Campus involved the full refurbishment of the existing first floor teaching areas, corridors and link corridor; forming new staff base areas, teaching rooms and new care suite.

The refurbishment works included stripping out the existing suspended ceilings, block walls, timber partitions, existing timber doors and frames as well as all existing electrical wiring and distribution boards.

Among a myriad of redevelopments that took place during the project were: the modification of the first floor heating system, formation of new metal stud partitions to suit the new layout drawings and formed new opening within the corridor to allow rooms to be formed

Each and every room now has a new suspending ceilings grid and tiles, as well as a brand new lighting system throughout the building. Rooms and corridors have been fully decorated and new floor coverings have been fitted throughout, complementing the new areas and giving it a more open and brighter look.

Ayrshire College’s Capital Projects Manager Janice Steel stated: “Worksmart Contracts Ltd successfully won tenders for Summer Works 2017 and 2018 at both Ayr and Kilwinning Campus for Ayrshire College.

“Worksmart have recently completed the Summer 2018 works which comprised the refurbishment of our new Health, Social and Child Care Suite which includes a simulated nursery, simulated hospital ward and numerous learning and teaching spaces; a new Music Technology Suite including 3 sound proof rehearsal rooms and a teaching room and staff work base.”

Works were also carried out on the ground floor, with all the doors, frames and architraves being removed and replaced with new Oak veneer doors sets. Once completed, the existing corridors were decorated to match the design finishing of the first floor.

The new door installation on the first and ground floors was also an opportunity for the Worksmart team to demonstrate the new Fire Door Inspection Services, which was formed a few months ago to assist clients and ensure there are fulfilling their legal obligations with regard to fire safety.

The installation of all new fire doors to comply with the regulations for public and commercial buildings will help to give the client peace of mind. Mark McQuade is the holder of a Diploma in Fire Door Inspection, and he heads Worksmart’s Inspection Service.

Janice Steel added: “All projects were completed on time, within budget and the College were delighted with the quality of workmanship.”

Click here to see our recently completed case study on the project.

Attacking the Skills Gap – Worksmart’s First Female Apprentice Joiner

Hi, I’m Briony, Worksmart’s first female joinery apprentice!

I’m here to tell you all about why I’ve chosen joinery as a career and go into the pros and cons of working within a male dominated environment as a female joinery apprentice. I’ve not always wanted to be a joiner; over the years – like a lot of people – I’ve changed my mind countless times from civil engineering to geology to forestry.

Finally, after a good friend of mine completed carpentry/joinery course at college, I decide to give it go; turns out I love it! I’m not a hundred percent sure why I enjoy it so much but I do know that I just love building, I always have. So what better way to combine my career with what I thrive on doing?

I began my apprenticeship with Worksmart in June this year after completing 2 years at college, first an NPA in carpentry and joinery then the next level up: a City and Guilds qualification. This led me to Worksmart, as they were carrying out work at Ayrshire College in Ayr while I was doing my course. Good news for me. Next thing I know I’ve got the job and my 2 years of hard work has paid off and I’m officially Worksmart’s first ever female joinery apprentice!

Now, I know there are some people out there who question the path I’ve taken: a job in a predominately male field that has lots of heavy lifting, especially when I’m short, skinny and female. Understandable concerns. There are a few downsides and you can feel a little left out sometimes, but who doesn’t when they start a new job?

Ultimately however, I’ve found that you have to do what you want in life. And although some people may have negative opinions towards my choices, I’ve only ever had support from family, friends etc.

If you get stuck in and work hard, any feelings of doubt will disappear and in a few weeks you’re just one of the guys. Personally, I’ve never had any trouble within such an environment as I’ve never stood for anything but equality. I sometimes feel like I have to try harder than everyone else and that I’m out to prove something. However, if you want to be there and put your all into your work there won’t be a problem.

Now to the pros, there are plenty I could list but I’ll just stick to a few. Firstly, you get to try out lots of fun things like using machinery which I would never otherwise be able to use. You also get to learn directly from people who have years of experience within the industry. I’ve found that it’s mostly just like working anywhere else. If you need help, ask and you’ll get it. If you don’t understand something, ask and it will be explained to you.

I’d like to credit all the guys I’ve worked with so far as they’ve been brilliant and treated me no differently than they would treat a male apprentice. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or a more accepting company to begin my career as a joiner.

Coffee & a Chat with Gary Baxter – Project Manager

Relatively new to the Worksmart family, Project Manager Gary Baxter describes how impressed he has been with the company since joining just under a year ago.

Tell me a bit about your working background and how you came to join Worksmart?

I began my career as a joiner in the early 1990s, specialising in private bespoke properties. From there, I ended up in the Refurb and Fit-Out industry. I worked for one company for 12 years, progressing from joiner to supervisor in eight or nine months and then on to site manager the following year. After that I worked as a site manager for various companies.

I’ve only been with Worksmart since December 2017. Initially, I spoke to Stevie [Neilson], he’s a genuine guy and everything he’s said he’ll do for me he’s come through on; I’ve been received very well here, and I hope I’m doing a good job in return.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have?

I’ve been working as a project manager for the last couple of years, the roles and responsibilities of the job are primarily the same as that of a site manager, but on larger scale projects. There’s a lot more detail involved as well as more interaction between design teams and clients.

It’s a job I love. You tend to get a lot more involved and into each project when you’re the project manager.

Did you think your career would progress this way back in the early days when you were a joiner?

Back in the early days I had no idea how things would progress! You go from job to job, with the jobs getting bigger each time, and you can see yourself progressing and begin to get an idea of where you would like to be. Worksmart have been good enough to support me on this path.

How would you like to see your career progress in the next few years?

In the next few years I’d probably like to get into contracts management, which would be looking after several projects at the one time. But for the moment I’m very happy as a project manager.

What’s your best piece of advice for a young person looking to get into your profession?

Stick in and do things properly. My old contracts manager used to say: “if you’re in a house fitting a door you should take 30 minutes; if you’re on a commercial job, you should take an hour.” The commercial game is a lot harder and you’re judged on your last job, so you’d better make sure you’ve done things properly.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Worksmart?

There’s a real community feel around the company. The management are there to boost you and help you at all times. It’s a very positive environment, there’s no negativity and there’s a great work ethic within the company.

When you’re not in the office, what do you like getting up to?

I’ve got two kids, so they keep me very busy! Other than that, I enjoy a game of golf now and again.

A Coffee and a Chat with… Lisa Neilson, Owner and Financial Director

Lisa Neilson – BSc (Hons) MSc, has come a long way within Worksmart over the last 10 years. A qualified forensic scientist, she tells us about her journey and shares her advice to any young people with aspirations of a successful career.

Could you tell me a bit about your working background?

I’m the Owner and Financial Director of Worksmart Contracts. I’ve been involved with Worksmart for 10 years. Before then, I went to University and my final job was working as a Forensic Biologist.

In 2008, I made the decision to come away from science and join Worksmart. Originally, everyone within Worksmart performed different jobs across the business, but mine was Financial Director/Receptionist/Bookkeeper/Project Manager/Office Manager. Very wide spread.

Now, 10 years on, we have built the business so that everyone has their own job roles and responsibilities which creates a more smooth and efficient business.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have?

We have offices in Kilmarnock and Edinburgh, with the head office being Kilmarnock. As well as these, we also have a hub office in London. My main day to day role is to concentrate on the financials of the company but I do get involved in overseeing all the different departments within Worksmart: from the implementation of new systems to interviewing new personnel to visiting site and dealing with our quality management system.

In the near future we will be employing a new Financial Controller. They will run the financial department with me overseeing it. We are also currently looking for an Estimator and a Quantity Surveyor to help with the growth of Worksmart.

What’s your advice for a young person looking to get into this sector in a similar role to yourself?

I’ve had to work hard at everything I’ve ever done. It was never just plain sailing for me. You don’t just have to be academic to be able to run your own company; as long as you work hard and ask the right questions and show that you’re enthusiastic you’ll be given a chance in life. If you follow these basic principles, you will become a very valuable individual.

When you get out of the office, what do you like getting up to?

I love to travel and to keep active. And I also like to catch up with friends and family.

Worksmart increase their support at Kilmarnock Football Club

Following an outstanding season for both Kilmarnock Football Club and Worksmart Contracts Ltd, Worksmart have increased their support of Kilmarnock Football Club with both Season Tickets and Corporate Signage advertising Worksmart further to the Ayrshire Business Community. Pictured with the legendary Ray Montgomerie of Kilmarnock Football Club and former Killie Captain of the league winning side of `97 are Worksmarts FD Lisa Neilson and MD Steve Neilson below the new vast signage installed to the gable end of the Main Stand and in full view of everyone visiting Rugby Park for the games and attending the Park Hotel. The prominent position is beside Ayrshires highly successful QTS and Worksmart and very proud to be associated with the Club.

Over the years our support has grown and developed for the club from our small sign in the main car park neighbouring our friends at Billy Bowie Special Projects, Solutions on Demand and Seesaw Creative.

Steve Neilson Worksmarts MD said “We are delighted to have increased our support for Kilmarnock Football Club and we continue to enjoy both the quality of football and community at Rugby Park along with the increased level of Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment works in the Ayrshire market which we have been working closely with many successful local Businesses.”

Worksmart have also enjoyed the success in securing the Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment of the famous Chairman’s Suite along with the Executive Suite, Toilets and the main Reception in the summer break at the Club and have enjoyed working with the Killie Board and staff along with Architects Thomson Hunter Architects which will be completed shortly and in use for this season. Kilmarnock Football Club have seen the opportunity in bringing these facilities into line with what the top clubs in Scotland and the UK have on offer and Worksmart are very proud to have been the contractor who will deliver these stunning interiors. More coverage of this will certainly follow on the finished results in due course.

Lisa Neilson Worksmarts FD added “There has been a noticeable buzz around the town with the success of the team in last years season and we are looking forward to this season and supporting the Club and the Team, both the community and local business have benefitted. Worksmart have a long standing history of supporting youth and sport in our Community Benefits and Social Responsibilities in our Ayrshire and Edinburgh area offices which we love doing and will continue to do so.

We wish Killie every success this year and we look forward to continuing our support of the Club and supporting them in future Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment Projects in years to come”