Jen Lemen is a co-founder of Property Elite, Chartered Surveyor and RICS APC assessor. She is the author of ‘How to Become a Chartered Surveyor’, published by Routledge.
She is also an experienced property consultant (co-Director of Projekt) with FRICS status, an RICS Registered Valuer and an RICS Accredited Mediator, with nearly 15 years of experience working in the commercial property sector.
Surveying as a Family Tradition
Jen comes from a family of surveyors and the positive sides of the profession she saw growing up made her decide to take the same route.
“The main influences were my dad and my granddad, both surveyors,” Jen says. “I grew up going around shopping centres during the summer holidays. My dad managed shopping centres for landlords, so by the age of 16 I’d probably seen every single big and small shopping centre in the country, and we’d been abroad for surveys. When you’re young, you don’t want to do what your parents do and you resist. But I’ve seen my dad get to travel, he likes people, he’s got a nice work balance, he plays sports. And I loved the property and everything that surrounded me. So that was the decision for me to apply to the University of the West of England, get into their surveying course, and property management and investing. I obviously needed a job alongside it, so I got a four-day week job working for a self-employed surveyor in Bristol. And it started from there.”
Mentoring and Training in Surveying
We wanted to know how Jen got from practising day-to-day surveying into APC mentoring and training,
“When I left my last corporate role, the intention was to set up a surveying practice, and we ended up setting Property Elite. I remember when I passed my APC, I thought that the day you passed was the pinnacle of your surveying. I felt like I knew everything, but I’d seen there was no one single real resource where I would have gone. I collected all of my own notes together, and frankly, it was too soon, I wanted nothing to do with education for a while. But as we were setting up the firm I thought maybe this is the time to give this another idea a go. It doesn’t need an amazing amount of capital to launch a business like that. I’ve built a website and it went from there. Slowly we realised this was working and then we started splitting our time between doing day-to-day surveying work and training. We kept on doing more and more mentoring, and I was enjoying it more because of the variety of work. So it was an idea that was never really meant to be.”
What is a Proper Surveyor
We wanted to discuss what it means when someone steps away from day-to-day surveying and goes into coaching, mentoring, applying for a fellowship or even running a podcast on surveying. We wanted to hear Jen’s thoughts on what it means to be a proper surveyor.
“A proper surveyor is somebody who does what I used to do, surveying for clients day in, day out. But if I was still doing that same thing now, I don’t think I’d have my fellowship. So many of those fellowship characteristics are not your typical jobbing day-to-day surveyor roles, they’re the extra things that you do.
So if having your fellowship doesn’t make you a proper surveyor because you’re not doing day-to-day work, that just doesn’t make any sense. When I was doing the lecturing work, did that make me a lecturer and not a surveyor anymore? I became a surveyor because I wanted to be a surveyor. I slowly came to the realisation that there are really many flavours of surveyors, and we can fit in lots of different areas at once. If I was doing the same thing now as I was five years ago, I’d probably be bored.”
How to Become a Chartered Surveyor
Jen is the author of “How to Become a Chartered Surveyor” so we wanted to know how she came about writing that book.
“Part of it came from the original idea that I had when I passed my APC. I had all my notes and didn’t know what to do with them. They don’t form any part of this book, but they gave me that little bug in the back of my brain that said it was a good idea to put something on paper as a bit of a legacy. I did some research and the last step before this might have been 10 years ago.
There was nothing out there that filled the gap for something to do with the APC. But then so many of the questions that I was being asked weren’t about the APC, they were just, how do I become a chartered surveyor? What I found was that it’s not just the graduate. It’s also the mature student who’s a carpenter who’s doing more and more work and wants to become a residential surveyor or a finance administrator who does service charge work and wants to become a surveyor. The book was a nice way to put all of my knowledge and different sources out there, and to raise awareness that lots of different people can become surveyors,” Jen concludes.
– Property Elite https://www.property-elite.co.uk/
– Property Elite Podcast https://open.spotify.com/show/1V3YdrbTRRVaMtz4oh8I24
– How to Become a Chartered Surveyor e-book https://www.property-elite.co.uk/product-page/ebook-how-to-become-a-chartered-surveyor
– LionHeart https://www.lionheart.org.uk/
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