I have worked in large-scale construction companies in Hong Kong for over 15 years. I started out in a technical role and over the years have progressed into a managerial role. Even though real-life experience is important and serves as a backbone for any profession, formal proof of people’s achievements can play an important role in career development. I strongly believe that having a qualification from UCEM has helped me climb the corporate ladder and has influenced the direction my career has taken.
Why distance learning?
I recognised that in my company, colleagues who have studied part time or through distance learning while working full time were likely to gain more experience and could apply what they were learning to their work.
The support structure
I was very impressed by UCEM and the support structure it offered as I progressed through my studies. It boosted my confidence, and from 2006 to 2011, I was involved in three major projects which were turning points in my career. I was promoted to Project Manager because of the knowledge I had acquired on the course. My role came very sharply into focus as it became widely recognised that buildings themselves are the single largest source of carbon within our economy. The ways in which they are constructed, maintained and used are of crucial significance in the drive towards a lowcarbon economy.
These major projects were very successful, I not only gained praise from my employer and clients but I was also awarded certificates from the Hong Kong Government Authorities, including a bronze medal for Best Refurbishment and Maintenance Contractor in 2007, and a Certificate of Merit for Good Housekeeping Planning in 2009 from the Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Council. In time, my company has come to rely on me as a sort of ‘building doctor’ for solutions to construction and maintenance problems.
The course is fully accredited by professional bodies such as RICS and CIOB and offers a carefully designed mix of technical subjects covering the wide knowledge base of the building surveying profession. I learnt how buildings are constructed, about materials used in the construction process, and how the selection of these materials can affect the performance of a building during its life cycle. The demand for construction professionals, primarily within Hong Kong but also in mainland China, has never been greater, particularly as the sustainability agenda has emerged. Consequently, professional training in these areas has never been more important.
Around the time of my graduation in 2007, I was promoted to Project Manager. Furthermore, I was employed by the Hong Kong Government Authorities to work in various areas after I graduated. The UCEM course not only enhanced my knowledge but also developed my practical skills, which has definitely been valuable to my employer. There is no doubt that studying after office hours and at the weekend means sacrificing some leisure and rest time, but the benefits have been great.
The future for public sector workers is probably the bleakest it has been. My plan now is to get professional memberships of RICS, HKIS and the Hong Kong Institute of Construction Managers and find an opportunity to be wholly in charge of large-scale projects. I think I need to obtain a Master’s degree to achieve this, and my first port of call when I begin to look into this will certainly be UCEM.