Elliot Thiele-Smith, Graduate Project Manager, Leeds
Where did you study and what first attracted you to EC Harris?
I studied the RICS-accredited Property Development course at the University of Portsmouth. From there, I joined EC Harris, largely because it’s an innovative successful, market-leading firm. My impression was that the firm was a few steps ahead of the competition and its graduate programme was ideally suited to help me complete my APC and launch my career.
What is your current role and what are its main responsibilities?
I’m a Graduate Project Manager. My focus is on forming strong relationships with, and a clear understanding of, client before developing a project brief. It’s my responsibility to select, appoint and co-ordinate the project team and I will usually represent the client throughout the full development process – managing the inputs from the client, consultants, contractors and other stakeholders.
Tell us a bit about a project where you’ve learned a great deal.
I’m currently working on my Graduate SOS project. It’s a research-based initiative which involves working alongside my peers and is extremely useful in understanding a particular topic or identifying new business opportunities. I’ve also learned a great deal about the sector involved in the project and made some very knowledgeable contact within the business.
Talk us through what you might do on a typical day.
Normally, I get into the office by 8:30am. After responding to any emails, I check my calendar for upcoming meetings and prepare accordingly. Other that that, I get on with outstanding work, speak to clients or visit sites.
How has EC Harris supported your training and development?
The Graduate Induction Programme was a great introduction to the firm and helped increase my knowledge and understanding of the services EC Harris provides. The various workshops taught me a great deal about myself and I applied this in my new working environment. The social aspect of the induction was great too. There were functions organised every evening, so I got the opportunity to network with graduates from London to Dubai, as well as key contacts within the firm.
There is a vast array of information available on the firm’s IT network and intranet, offering guidance on how to get started with my APC, as well as lots of other training and development information. I was also assigned a buddy to answer my questions and help me with any training and development issues. In terms of my APC, the firm pays my subscription and assessment fees to the RICS.
What qualities do you need to be successful at EC Harris?
You have to be a well-rounded individual. You have to be capable of understanding new concepts quickly. And you have to be comfortable talking to a variety of people. You have to be highly self motivated and able to communicate effectively with other colleagues. Sharing knowledge is a very important aspect of the EC Harris culture. Everyone supports each other and helps to grow the firm’s knowledge base which allows us to offer a better level of service to our clients.
What’s surprised you most about working at EC Harris?
How friendly and welcoming everybody is. The work spaces are designed in such a way that everybody mixes and there’s always someone around to have a chat with.
What are the most important/noticeable aspects of its culture?
It’s about being part of one big family. Everyone’s here to support one another and there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Questions are very much encouraged as they test and broaden one’s knowledge.
Have you enjoyed any social activities at EC Harris?
We’ve had a couple of socials. These have ranged from a few drinks after work to participating in a 5-a-side football league on Mondays. I’ve also organised a golf event which everyone is very much looking forward to. I enjoy the social aspect of the firm; it gives you the opportunity to get to know your colleagues better outside the working environment which helps you work together better within it.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I hope to have qualified as a Chartered Project Management Surveyor by successfully passing my APC. After gaining further experience, I hope to be nominated for a development programme which will enable me to further progress my career. A personal career aim is to work in one of our Middle East or Asia offices. The most important thing is knowing I have the support I need to achieve this.