Focus On: Licensed Surveyor | End of One Chapter, Start of the Next

Posted on November 30th, by Kathryn Kutchel in Melbourne, Our people, Subdivision, Survey, Urban Development.

At Taylors, we encourage the professional development of all our team members and regularly participate in workshops, seminars, industry membership and affiliate activities to provide a wealth of experience and expertise to our clients.

Our Survey and Subdivision team is one of the largest in Victoria with over 25 Survey professionals and 10 Licensed Surveyors from a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences. As major contributors to the Survey profession, we always have surveying graduates on Professional Training Agreements to obtain their Licence and continue the Taylors legacy.
One of two most recent licensees, Raymond Li, talks about the process of his Professional Training Agreement and what the achievement now means for him.

Raymond Li shares his thoughts on the process and the next step of his career.

Could you explain the PTA process and your view on it?
Firstly, I had to get a university degree, and then get some work experience under the belt – I think everyone should do this before they jump into it. Then, you apply for your PTA formally through the Surveying Board of Victoria. There’s no restriction about when you can do it, you can do it straight after university – and I believe a few people have done it that way.
It’s potentially not the best way to go about it though because you’re still learning when you leave university, so I think you need to pause for a couple of years before jumping into it. You need to know, not just about the field, but the office side of it, because it’s not just field-based survey and for, roughly, the first two years you may not have the best understanding of what is required to deliver the project.

Is it a case of learning how to settle down before re-focusing and making the commitment?
There’s a lot of time sacrificed to close out the projects you do. You do forego a lot of weekend catch-ups with friends – I did miss a friend’s engagement party to finish off a law project! – but even though it is a big sacrifice of time for yourself and for your supervisor to provide you with that guidance, it’s all worth it. It involves a lot of maturity to get through it, so, further to the first part of that question, I don’t think anyone is quite ready for this straight out of university because you’ve just finished so many years of study, do you really want to throw yourself into it straight away?

“You need to know, not just about the field, but the office side of it, because it’s not just field-based survey.”

Supervising Surveyor and Consulting Survey and Subdivision Manager, Damian Slattery, has been guiding Raymond for many years now and sharing his knowledge from more than 20 years as a Licenced Surveyor.

Damian, what does it mean to you to be mentoring the next generation and passing along your knowledge?
It’s an honour really and a privilege, I feel that sometimes I don’t know much that’s worth passing on and then in other occasions there’s so much to say. I really enjoy it, it’s part of the fun, it’s part of being at this point in my career to be able to guide new individuals. It’s a different world now from when I got licensed in 1997 – it’s only twenty years – and to me that’s not long ago. The difference now in the way things work is massive, you know, GPS was in its infancy in 1997. We take it for granted now, but it’s those recent developments that really show the difference in generations.
Working with the young surveyors too, helps me to stay more focused.

And, what were the challenges and successes of mentoring?
Well he’s succeeded (laugh).
The main success was getting him through the process, guiding him through and pointing him in the right direction, and being an overseer without doing too much. It’s a combination of supervision and teaching and leading that’s gets him from where he is to where he needs to be.
I did notice that, like a lot of his generation, they struggle more with written communication as they have done a lot less of it than previous generations. Their communications are a lot quicker, off-the-cuff, one message per communication types, and they don’t sit down and write the sort of comprehensive reports that we may have done. That’s potentially the main skill we’ve really focused in on, but where Ray is now is a major validation of what he has achieved, but it’s by no means a point at which you stop, it’s merely the start of the learning process for the next phase.

“I really enjoy it, it’s part of the fun, it’s part of being at this point in my career to be able to guide new individuals.”

Ray, does this now give you different direction to go? Or do you have bigger ambitions now?
I’ve always looked at it as the next learning step, there are obviously bigger ambitions, but they are much further down the track. Just because you are licensed doesn’t automatically make you an expert in the field, you’ve just proven to the industry that you can undertake tasks and follow through, it’s like a second graduation of your studies. But like your initial graduation, you’re still learning, I’ve been in the industry for about ten years and I’m still learning, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

What does it mean to achieve this at a younger age?
I actually felt that I achieved it late in life (laugh), when I finished university, I had this big, great idea that I’d finish this process by the time I was 30 – I’ve may have missed that by a couple of years. Having it at a younger age, it settles you down a little bit, it puts a mature manner into the way you do things. Getting in early helps you to grow up, that’s the key takeaway of it.
I think there’s a difference in mindset. We’ve got a great company policy and culture about getting it right and doing the right thing. I look at a project now with the Board as my client in my head, I think “would I be happy to send this work out to my client”.

“It’s the point of difference for Taylors to keep creating a team with the best knowledge and standards in the industry.”

Damian, what does training the new surveyors mean for Taylors?

We set standards that we won’t lower for our team. The level they have to achieve within the business and their projects aren’t always reflected across the industry. Across the board you’ll see some projects that are below standard, but that wouldn’t occur in our office or be released from our office, we make the younger generation aware of what’s required, it’s part of the supervision process.
In our projects we aim for 100%, and we want to instil this practice on the new surveyors entering our team – you wouldn’t construct a house 50% correctly. Everything we deliver needs to be spot on and fit for purpose. That’s what we aim to achieve, and that’s what we aim to impart on our younger trainees. It’s the point of difference for Taylors to keep creating a team with the best knowledge and standards in the industry.

Ray, we now have 10 Licensed Surveyors with your addition, what does it mean to be in that team?
Well, it’s an honour to join the team of Licensed Surveyors in a company that has such a good reputation for producing not only good surveyors, but good licensed surveyors. There’s always room for improvement and growth and joining the Licensed team is just the next learning step and building on the next stage of my career. It’s exciting.