061 Changing Career with Nicola Allen

Nicola Allen is the Director at DA Associates Consultancy. She is a Building Surveyor, Fire Risk Assessor and Project Manager, making a career change 8 years ago. She has previously been involved in commercial, retail and public sectors.

Changing Career

At the age of 18, Nicola began working in a radiography department at NHS, which led her to get a degree in radiography and continue working in this field. Her career jump to surveying happened in 2012 when she started working with her father, and she has never looked back since.

“There was a moment in 2012 where I thought, is this really a good time? And I thought to myself, if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it, and I don’t want to sit there and regret it. So if you want to change career, just do it. Yes, it’s going to be difficult to start at the bottom of the ladder, but you will get there. That’s what I want to try and inspire people to do, to make changes, and now’s the perfect time to retrain.”

Developing a Career in Surveying

Nicola has been developing her skills on a daily basis and it is an ongoing process. The opportunity to teach at Birmingham City University was a great learning experience for her.

“I always say to people, you will never find a surveyor who knows everything. Everybody’s got their own unique DNA in surveying in terms of their knowledge base. Just utilise it to get to know people and then you can pull their knowledge.”

“There’s me standing in front of first years at Birmingham City University,” she continues, “teaching them back lights and the different materials involved, and it made me realise that I know what I do and what I need to improve as a person going forward.”

Running a Business During the Pandemic

After working with her father for a few years, Nicola got an opportunity to work for a larger global consultancy. She learned a lot through this experience. and in January 2020, just before the pandemic, Nicola and her father established their current business. The pandemic gave them the opportunity to reassess where they want to go when we come out of lockdown. 

“We participated in a five-day course on fire risk assessments, which was great,” she says. “That inspired me to do a couple of articles on LinkedIn about post-COVID, and that allowed us to do fire risk assessments now we’ve come out of lockdown. There have been discussions regarding the PII at the course we were doing, and I believe there’s going to be a separate PII cover for the fire side, and then the standard PII on the standard building surveying consultancy side. For me, I know my limitations, I will never get enrolled in the cladding whereas dad is MRICS, so he’s got the knowledge and experience in that.”

Working With New Technologies

The lockdown forced people to work remotely and experiment with new technologies. Nicola talks about the challenges and opportunities of this situation. 

“Communication online is very limited,” she explains. “It’s a bit like an email, you could type something in an email, but somebody may misinterpret the tone of that email. Whereas if you speak to that person, it may not sound aggressive at all. This has been an opportunity to try new things to see if they work. If you don’t try, you don’t know, so I’m trying with iPads to see if it works for us going forward as a business. I had discussions with people about using drones for roof surveys. I think it’s a great idea because you get the overall picture of the roof, but a surveyor needs the opportunity to touch the roof tiles and see if it’s loose. So it’s about trying to find that happy medium with technology vs. the traditional surveying senses,” she concludes. 

Connect with Nicola Allen:

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nicola-allen-820a014a

Connect with Marion Ellis:

– LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marion-ellis-love-surveying-surveyor-hub

– Instagram https://www.instagram.com/marionsurveyor/

– Facebook https://www.facebook.com/marionsurveyor/

– Email marion@lovesurveying.com

Resources:

– DA Associates Consultancy https://www.da-associates.co.uk/

The Surveyor Hub is a proud supporter of Lionheart, the benevolent fund which supports RICS surveyors and their families. Find out more and get support here.