‘I’m working on the largest regeneration project in Europe, so for a first job, it’s not a bad place to start’

Trainee Quantity Surveyor, James McLoughlin is being sponsored by Gleeds to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Westminster whilst in fulltime employment at the London office. Here we find out a little bit more about James and how he decided to start his career in construction.

So James, tell us a little bit about yourself

Well, I am the newest addition to the Gleeds Cost Management team and I’m currently working on their commercial & office portfolio.  I’m also a Fresher at Westminster University, having completed (and passed!) my A levels in Maths, Business and Economics this summer.

It sounds like your career is off to a good start…

I joined Gleeds in September 2015 and I have now been studying for just over 4 months (out of 5 years!) at Westminster University where I’m studying Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management. Gleeds is sponsoring my undergraduate course, which means I work in the London office 4 days a week and on Tuesdays I have a day release for University. It’s a pretty ideal situation; I get the real hands on experience at Gleeds and then I go to University to learn about the science behind the building through lab sessions, lectures and seminars.

What made you decide a career in construction was right for you?

It’s a career path that has always been at the back of mind, I come from a family of architects and civil engineers, so I have grown up surrounded by sketches and infrastructure. For me, I wanted something slightly more strategic and site-based, so I get to see a bit of both of architecture and civil engineering, and that’s when I decided to study to become a quantity surveyor.

And you thought, why not Gleeds?

Quite simply I wanted real experience within a business, whilst learning on the side-line. The fact I can do it at a leading construction consultancy, is a massive bonus.  I was drawn to Gleeds because of the size and scale of the company, but also the breadth of clients and projects it works on. When I applied I was hugely impressed with the speed of the recruitment process and how personable every single person I met was.  Not only did I have the chance to meet the recruitment team and find out more about Gleeds and my role, but I also had the opportunity to meet directors I would be working with, which was amazing.  It also became apparent Gleeds wasn’t just interested in what they could get out of me, they listened and understood what I wanted to learn over my 5 years of training.

What does a typical working week look like?

I have been very lucky with my role because I am currently working on One Nine Elms, a mixed-use skyscraper project in Vauxhall. It is the largest regeneration project in Europe, so for a first job, it’s not a bad one to be involved with! Typically my working week would involve liaising with a variety of people including my client, as well as MEP representatives, and my team here at Gleeds. A large part of my week is also spent carrying out measurements on drawings to determine quantities of different items needed on each floor/room. I then research different suppliers and get quotes for the items, before creating a cost plan of all my findings. The best bit for me though is probably getting to go out on site and actually see the work I am helping with happen!

What do you tell your friends about work on a Friday evening?

It is a very challenging environment but also a very rewarding one. It offers a great work-life balance.  I have only been here 4 months and have already been to a charity boat party run by the social committee and been given a day off work to participate in a corporate charity day where I ran 12 miles along the South Downs Way! I get to enjoy the student experience, whilst getting the benefits of a full-time job – both the knowledge and the pay!

What advice would you give to somebody trying to get into the industry?

Be persistent and do not give up. Take your time to research into the different components of the construction industry and work out what is right for you.



James McLoughlin

James McLoughlin
Trainee Quantity Surveyor

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Julian Barlow

Julian Barlow
PR Consultant