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Securing your APC abroad with Linesight

Setting out to achieve your APC overseas

Kevin Gardiner is a 27-year-old Cost Manager working with Linesight in Dubai, where he has been based for the past three years. Having just secured his Assessment of Professional Competence (APC)* he offers some advice for fellow surveyors setting out on the same path.

'I think it might be slightly easier if you have a few people in the office working towards it at same time. You can bounce ideas off each other and ask for advice.'

'I joined Linesight as a graduate in 2011 just as the industry resumed recruiting again after the recession. I was 18 months working on projects in Dublin when my Director offered me a job in our Dubai office. It was a great, if daunting, opportunity that three years on has worked out really well for me.

The move meant that securing my APC involved transferring from the SCSI to RICS, the professional body covering the Middles East. To be honest, we were so busy that first year in Dubai I didn’t pursue the APC but once things settled down I decided to push hard for it.

Passing your APC is a challenging process no matter where you are based. I think it might be slightly easier if you have a few people in the office working towards it at same time. You can bounce ideas off each other and ask for advice.

Over here I was the only one studying in the office so I spent a lot of time in contact with the RICS and reviewing the RICS APC guides, making sure I was on the right track.

I took the two-year graduate route, which is for people with less than five years’ work experience. It’s best to do it as early as you can in your career, as you get older it becomes more difficult with increased responsibilities both in and out of the office.

There are important landmarks along the two-year path such as achieving your CPD requirements, submitting your self-assessment log planner and identifying a suitable case study. It’s all about progressing to the final assessment and presentation of your chosen case study.

Along the way you can ask for advice from your counsellor, usually a senior member of staff in the office. Ciaran McCormack, now a Director here in Dubai, was my counsellor.

The final assessment is a one hour interview including the presentation of your case study. As you would expect, there were plenty of questions about the project, like how you tackled certain problems and why. I was questioned about possible solutions which were not identified in my case study, so I had to think on my feet.

One major difference between the final assessment in Ireland and the UAE is the cultural aspect. In Ireland you will probably have three fluent English speaking assessors, in the UAE you could have assessors from anywhere in the world to who do not speak English as their native language. This can create a challenge and be a bit more intimidating for a candidate. My chairman was Scottish and was familiar with Linesight from working on a project in London. I was immediately put at ease with a quick chat before starting my presentation.

I passed first time. It’s great to have it completed, for certain to advance on to the next level of your career you need to have your chartership status in today’s competitive industry.

Here are Kevin’s key points for achieving your APC abroad:

  • It’s easy to transfer from the SCSI to the RICS
  • Be resourceful and look to people who might be able to help. I got help from a number of external contacts in the middle east, colleagues from Dublin as well as my colleagues here in Dubai.
  • You can contact the RICS directly if you need clarification on anything you are unsure of; remember you are a fee paying member.
  • Don’t feel like you have to follow what others have done before you. Read the APC candidate guides and put your own mark on it. For example, with the case study I always advised to cover three key issues, but after some research I found out that this isn’t really necessary; one or two is fine. If you produce a good case study that you’re confident with, it’s a lot easier to present and answer questions, which is 30% of the one hour assessment in the bag.If you refer to specific topics in your documents remember that you’re inviting questions on those topics, so make sure you know them well, or tailor your documents to influence potential lines of questioning.
  • The assessors are generally busy people in senior positions so know your audience. Treat them as an important client. Be clear, concise and don’t waffle. Make it easy for them to assess you. I did this by using key words in my documentation like “I advised” / “I presented” / “I gained knowledge”
  • Consider using online APC training seminars if help isn’t readily available in your office
  • Remind people that you are doing it and organise mock interviews as early as possible, this makes postponing it that bit more difficult, especially if there are no other candidates in the office for encouragement
  • Pick an assessment date and stick to it, try to challenge yourself, some positive pressure is good for disciple and motivation
  • On the day treat it like any other client meeting. There may be questions you can’t answer, think about how to handle this situation professionally
  • Try to steer discussions to your advantage and avoid talking yourself into a corner.
  • Remember that the assessors want you to pass and they know how it feels to be on the other side of the table, it’s not an interrogation. Try to relax, smile and be likeable.

*The APC is comprised of a set list of skills — or competencies — set out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI). In order to become Chartered, a candidate must attain these competencies to the required level. The competencies are a mix of interpersonal, business and technical skills. When moving overseas quantity surveyors will usually apply for their APC through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

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