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Learn from the professionals: REALM

Posted 15 April 2014

Andy Black

Aside from preparing students for a career in land agency, the REALM course at Harper Adams University also boasts some of the most experienced academic staff, all of which have ‘earned their stripes’ working in industry.

This includes one of the newest additions to the team, Senior Lecturer in Rural Land, Property Management and Valuation, Andrew Black.

Andrew himself studied REALM at Harper Adams (98-02) before joining Smiths Gore’s Edinburgh office and completing his Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), enabling him to become a professional member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Andrew, who is also actively involved with St John Ambulance, said: “Whilst at Harper Adams I completed a placement year at Attingham Park as an Assistant Land Agent. It was a fantastic experience, living and working on a large mixed estate.

“The experience was diverse, from carrying out farm rent reviews to renovating farmhouses; learning how to fell trees to even dressing up in historic costume to give guided tours!

“But once I joined Smiths Gore as a Graduate Surveyor I was able to start my professional career, part of which was a baptism of fire having to learn Scottish law for the first time. The work was diverse, split between managing large estates and managing corporate portfolios for clients including the Crown Estate and Ministry of Defence.”

In 2004, Andrew moved on to work for Smiths Gore Lichfield as a Surveyor, managing large portfolios for corporate clients including the Church Commissioners, Bournville Village Trust and the National Children’s Home.

He later moved to Carter Jonas Shrewsbury as an Associate Partner and it was during this time that he qualified as a Registered Valuer in 2010.

Andrew said: “During my time with Carter Jonas, I was predominantly involved with the management of a diverse portfolio of properties and clients, including large private estates and also a variety of marine properties on behalf of the Crown Estate.

“These ranged from a small piece of land to accommodate a fire fighting pumping station to half of the bed of the River Mersey!
“I was also involved with the infrastructures team, acting for clients such as Network Rail and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This was a fast-paced and multi-billion pound area of significant growth and it was exciting to be involved with schemes such as a new power station at Sellafield.”

Prior to starting his professional career, Andrew’s interest in surveying started when he was around 15-years-old after meeting a friend’s father who was a Chartered Surveyor.

“His worked seemed genuinely interesting, diverse and something that made a positive impact,” added Andrew. “Enrolling at Harper Adams when I turned 18 seemed entirely the right decision which I have never regretted and I am proud to be a Chartered Surveyor.

“I have been actively involved with RICS Matrics, APC Assessing and have also spent time on the National Rural Board – all to develop and promote the profession internally and externally.

“Since joining the teaching staff at Harper Adams in 2012 I have taught on a range of modules aside from my specialist area, including Farm Business Law, Farm Management, Human Resources, Health and Safety to name but a few.”

Andrew has found the range of work undertaken as a surveyor to be diverse with no two days the same.

He said: “If you enjoy a challenge, are good at communicating with a wide range of people, like to think ‘outside of the box’ and are passionate about all types of property, then this is definitely the career for you.

“Remember that being a Chartered Surveyor is an internationally recognised qualification, so you could end up half the way around the world working on the next big thing!”

But it is his professional experience that Andrew believes enables him to deliver quality lectures to students at Harper Adams. “I see my role as a lecturer to give the students the theory and technical knowledge they need, and how to apply this to the real world. This is where professional experience is so important,” he added.

“I thoroughly enjoy telling students about real-life projects that I have worked on, the problems I encountered and what I would have done differently looking back.

“Sometimes you could write the world’s greatest letter to someone but not receive the reply you were hoping for. Instead, if you sat around a kitchen and chatted over a mug of tea then you can reach a far more productive outcome. These are the life-skills, hints, tips and techniques that distinguish a Harper Adams graduate.”

In order to stay up-to-date with professional techniques and practices, Andrew remains involved with a number of projects, of which he is able to feed-back and share with students.

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