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Learn from the professionals: REALM

Posted 9 May 2014

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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 whom have ‘earned their stripes’ working in industry.

This includes Senior Lecturer and Assistant Head of Department, Simon Keeble.

Simon studied BSc (Hons) Building Technology at Brunel University, where he worked on a water pipeline, the then Natwest Tower, and power stations in South Africa. He then studied a part-time postgraduate diploma course at the North East London Polytechnic, now the University of East London, qualifying as a general practice chartered surveyor.

Following university, Simon, who lives near Shrewsbury, started working in land agency with Humberts in Salisbury and then qualified as a general practice surveyor at the Portman Estates – a valuer in the West End of London.

He then worked at Barclays Property Holdings as a valuer, CBRE as an asset manager and Stanhope Developments as a consultant. It is following this that he came to Harper Adams as a Senior Lecturer on the REALM (Rural Enterprise and Land Management) course in 1993, working his way up to Course Manager in 1996 and then Associate Head of Department.

Simon said: “I was always fascinated by buildings and construction from an early age, so worked in construction before changing direction to surveying.

“Whilst at school, I was also interested in teaching so latterly combined my interest in real estate with higher education. I feel that with education, you are giving your experience and knowledge to the next generation rather than in business.”

Simon teaches the Valuation and Construction modules at Harper Adams and is involved with case study work for the Rural Professional Practice and Property and Facilities Manager modules.

He is the Course Manager for the REALM and Rural Property Management (RPM) degree courses, and organises events such as the agriculture V REALM sports day, the on-campus photography exhibition and Harper Adams’ contribution to World Food Day.

Simon is the RICS Chair of the Commercial APC (Assessment of Professional Competence), an external examiner for the Real Estate course at Oxford Brookes and Sheffield Hallam universities, a tutor and examiner at the College of Estate Management and a Governor of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and Shrewsbury High School Parents Committee.

Simon, who in his spare time enjoys windsurfing, sailing, cross country skiing and snowboarding, said: “Land agency is such a diverse and interesting career choice as it deals with all aspects of happening in and around the countryside. This includes large estates, environmental schemes, renewable energy, single farm payments, planning policies, valuations, international land deals, diversifications and compensation claims.

“And this can all be for marine areas, mountains, moorland, arable, pasture, woodlands or town; working for an agency, in professional advance and estate management, auctioneering, on film sets and in building advice.

“It is such an exciting industry to be involved with where no two days are the same and the possibilities are infinite.”

As a lecturer, Simon believes that his professional experience supports his teaching. He said: “Having professional practical experience helps to relate the academic side to practice on the ground.

“It also means that students will understand more from you if you have worked in the subject area than just academically.”

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