My journey to becoming a Surveyor – George Saurin
I always had an interest in the built environment, firstly studying woodwork for my Junior Cert followed by construction studies for my Leaving Cert. It was undoubtedly stoked by the emergence of the Celtic Tiger during my teen years. After secondary school, I enrolled in the Auctioneering, Valuations and Estate Agency (AVEA) course at DIT Bolton Street, now Technical University Dublin.
I can still recall my first Valuations lecture in my second year of college where my lecturer, Rory Walsh, made a statement which in retrospect clearly struck a chord. He noted the cyclical nature of property markets not only brings highs and lows in terms of property values, but also in employment / wages. He noted the contrast between the highs and lows of agency work vs the stability provided by professional services including valuations, rent reviews and rating. Having regard to that and playing to my strengths in terms of problem solving and reasoning, I decided at an early stage to concentrate on professional services rather than agency.
That said, my first property job was showing houses on the weekends for Sherry Fitzgerald New Homes. I did this throughout my college years. In order to meet the requirements to become a Chartered Surveyor to follow my chosen career path, I transferred to the 4 year Property Economic Course in DIT upon the completion of the AVEA course.
Post completion of my college studies I was introduced to TJ Kearns, Head of Professional Services for Colliers International, who provided me with my first commercial property job. I started my career in a department which provided a wide range of professional services including valuations, rent reviews, rating and CPO work. The wide-ranging work and client base gave me a strong foundation upon which to build my career and I promptly completed my Assessment of Professional Competency (APC) to become a Chartered Surveyor.
I undertook a large volume of rent review work in my early career, predominantly on the retail front. As the recession post 2008 took hold and rent review work dried up, I concentrated more on valuations, rating and to a lesser extent CPO work. Post 2008 was a trying time for the property market and true to my lecturer’s words mentioned above, valuation became the safe haven for property professionals with limited agency roles available. By that stage, I was the Head of Professional and the department grew to become the largest fee generating department within the firm. During my years in Colliers International I met and worked with a wide array of clients and colleagues, many of whom I am still in regular contact today.
As economic activity improved and the jobs market started to open up again, I decided that it was time to move on from Colliers International. It was time for a new challenge and to learn how larger firms operate. Having met with Peter Waller, the Head of Professional Services in DTZ Sherry FitzGerald, now Cushman & Wakefield, I opted to jump ship. I was introduced to a different tier of valuation practices. My previous department of 4/5 people was the same size as my new sub team within a professional services department of over 25 people.
I have been an active member of the SCSI being on the Valuation Professional Group for a number of years. I was elected Vice Chair of the Group and subsequently Chair of the group for two years. In addition to my role as Chair of the Valuation Professional Group, I was and continue to be an APC assessor. My involvement with the SCSI has been of significant benefit to me having had the ability to meet and assist a wide array of members across the various divisions within the SCSI.
Throughout the years I have advanced from graduate surveyor to director with my team continually increasing. Looking back on my years within the profession to date, it has occurred to me that what I believed to be my strengths – problem solving and reasoning, numerically evolved through my interactions with those around me with my greatest strengths still being problem solving and reasoning however now utilised more so to resolving issues for my clients and colleagues. It has been an interesting and rewarding career to date with many people to thank for their assistance along the way. I look forward to assisting others along their career path as I continue on mine.