#ConstructionRoleModels – Richard Crow

A few months ago, UK Construction Week awarded three of our staff the title of Construction Role Model – an exemplary member of the industry who has achieved all their successes through hard work and oftentimes adversity. Richard Crow began his working life in plumbing, and is now the associate director of our Birmingham office as well as a RICS-registered expert witness and the Chair of the RICS Marches regional group.

Would you recommend a career in construction?

Yes! For people like me, who academia and study have never come easily or felt natural, it’s easy to feel insecure in a professional setting. But practical experience is just as important as being booksmart in the construction industry. After I obtained my degree, I found a graduate role which focused on CAD work as well as some practical elements, which helped when gaining my APC. You do have to be determined, but that mindset will help you in the future.

Almost coming full circle, I’ve recently been approached by the University of Central England to become an External Examiner as well as to present to their final year Built Environment students, which is so rewarding to me after everything I’ve been through. I aim to do a lot more of this in the future.

What were your expectations of the building industry? Have they been exceeded?

I am always surprised with the variety of work within the construction industry. My career has had highs and lows, but I have had the opportunity to work on numerous prestigious projects, for well-established property companies including industry-leading, corporate giants. Equally, I’ve discovered that I get just as much satisfaction from assisting in boundary disputes. I never expected to find myself completing the first RICS expert witness accreditation scheme last year – and now I am a registered expert witness!

Have you had to deal with any obstacles in getting to where you are now?

Only my own confidence! Even now, I’m uncomfortable talking about my successes. But with the help of mentors, coaches and managers, they have taught me to value my own skills. It is important to be able to recognise problems, and to have the confidence to tackle them – whether they are weak leadership, overbearing colleagues or indecision within organisations. These life lessons have helped me become the leader I am today. I only ever want to create a happy environment that we can all – the team and the company – contribute to.

The Birmingham office is a young office. Why should young people get into careers in construction?

My career began when I was just 16, as a plumber with my dad. I did that until I was 18, then landed a job as a Land Surveyor and Setting Out Engineer, which I stayed in for the next nine and a half years. There’s a big rush these days to figure it out quickly, but you can do things at your own pace – it’s not a competition.

Young people have such a pressure to be ahead of the curve from such an early stage, so I feel privileged to have the opportunity to attend inner city schools and help to inspire young people with stories of my own career. It’s important to listen to the next generation about their aspirations and help them to understand they can fulfil their dreams in a way that is best for them.

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