Sobha Rani MRICS, Founder and Director of QSigma Cost Consultants, one of the first lady members of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) in India, talks about opportunities in quantity surveying & construction cost consulting.
A recognised leader in the real estate and construction industry with over 15 years of hands-on accelerated experience, Sobha specialises in cost management and quantity surveying for the construction and property industry and has experience in a wide range of building types, with in-depth expertise in the hospitality, workplace, healthcare and residential sectors.
Being a huge supporter of RICS SBE and with the aim of encouraging young talent to join the Quantity Surveying profession, she shares with us her views.
Q. What are the opportunities in construction consulting like project management or cost consulting?
The construction industry is growing at immensely fast pace and soaring new heights all across the globe. The medium- and long-term prospects for the Indian building and construction industry are very promising; the potential for infrastructure investments for the next 15 years is still huge as the dynamic growth in the Indian population stimulates the need for infrastructure improvements. All those factors create a positive effect on the domestic construction industry.
The growth in construction industry gives a positive outlook to cost consulting services. Role of cost consultants in the industry can be classified as Financial Advisor, Construction Advisor to cost control during construction and Contract administrator to advice on contract interpretation, payments, and changes in scope of works, variations and claims.
Career opportunities in building constructions are in public sector mainly with the ministry of roads and public works and government organizations, private sector with consulting firms, building and civil engineering contractors, financiers and property developers, project management firm and educational institutions as lecturers.
Other than building construction, Quantity Surveyor’s around the world are involved in a wide variety of industries like oil and gas, mining and infrastructure
– roads, rail, bridges, tunnels, water, and electricity.
Q. What is the major skill sets expected from new entrants in this field?
Deployment of appropriate skills and competencies is crucial and germane to the development and continuous relevance of any profession. Quantity surveyors add value primarily to the financial and contractual management of construction projects at the pre-construction, construction and post construction stages.
They contribute to overall construction project performance by acquiring, developing and deploying appropriate competencies.
The basic skills requiring to all Quantity Surveyors are quantification/measurement, communication skills, personal and interpersonal skills, business and management skills, professional practice, computer and information technology, construction technology, construction law and regulation.
The distinctive competencies of the quantity surveyor are associated with measurement and valuation which provide the basis for the proper cost management of the construction project in the context of forecasting, analyzing, planning, controlling and accounting. The quantity surveying competencies lie in the financial and contractual control of the building project as well as the development of soft skills.
Q. There seems to be a notion that the construction sector is not for women. What are your views on this and what would be your advice to female students on this matter?
In India, the construction industry is the second largest and a fast growing sector. Talent management systems are frequently vulnerable to pro-male biases that inevitably result in less diverse employee pool. Competition is in every sector, ultimately it is your determination, will power and confidence level that matters and show you the way. I was never raised to believe that there were limits to what I could do because I was a female. Follow your effort, it will lead you to your passion and to success; however you define it regardless of the gender.
Q. You have worked in the QS profession for many years after which you started your own practice. Can you share a little bit about your journey and what led you to start this venture?
My career plan was very strong since my childhood days and I had determined to start a venture at some point of time in my life. When I started working as QS with a design company in Bangalore, I tried learning all aspects of quantity surveying even if the subject was very new in the Indian Construction Industry. Learning from College of Estate Management helped me a lot in understanding QS practice and my aspiration to become MRICS. Being a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, I decided to start my own practice along with partnership of Space Matrix International, Singapore in 2010.
Prior to starting QSigma, I was with Davis Langdon & Seah as senior executive, in charge of cost planning and commercial management for their projects. Before that, I joined Space Matrix Design Consultants as Head of Procurement, responsible for cost management of all their workplace projects across India.
To spread the need of professional development along with core values of QS profession, we conduct monthly seminars in Bangalore. A lot of QS professionals are attending the session. We have a main speaker presenting a particular topic and have workshops wherein team leads of the individual group present their views on the selected topic. Access to education should not mean merely access to content rather; it should mean access to a rich learning environment that provides opportunity for interaction and connectedness.