We had a short sit down with our Regional Director for the South East, Jeff Watts. Please read our Q&A here:
Q – how long have you been working for Life now?
A – I started back in 1997 when the Company was in its infancy when it was known as SJW Consultancy, so 23 years ago! It was just my brother Steve [the Managing Director] and myself then, and from then the business grew into Blues Consultants in 2001, and then Life Environmental in 2009. In the beginning I had been employed to produce the first ARCA News magazine, whilst training to be an asbestos surveyor, passing the P402 in 2000. We are now a Company of 100+ employees and still growing! It has been a great 23 years.
Q – what has been the most interesting part of being in this industry?
A – I would have to say the variety of projects I get to be involved with and the diversity of people I interact with. My favourite time still, is when I was producing the ARCA News for the first 7 years up until Spring 2004. I would liaise with all the different ARCA members in search of content for the magazine, help write their articles and take the photos, and all in collaboration with the then ARCA Chief Executive, Terry Jago - it was brilliant, I saw and learnt so much.
Q – is there anything in this industry you would change?
A – Although the industry and its trade associations have implemented measures to ensure surveyors are trained to the best standard, I can’t help but feel the surveying qualifications should be more stringent, more in line with the qualifications like that chartered surveyors have to achieve. I feel a basic qualification puts the onus on the integrity of a company to ensure their surveyor does a professional job, rather than the individual already having a more detailed knowledge of the profession they have chosen.
Q – how do you go about influencing and managing your staff?
A – I think it is all about the balance between making the decisions as a leader / manager and involving staff in decisions that will affect their working environment. I respect their opinions and expertise and would like to think I am an approachable person that staff can come to with their views and needs. I also tell the funniest jokes!
Q – we can see that since lockdown 1, you have hired 5 new staff and the region has improved dramatically. Why do you think this is and what challenges were there to achieve this?
A – we have been very successful in winning some key projects through good working relationships with commercial clients along with housing clients, in England especially, being proactive during this troubled period but keeping the considerations and safety of their tenants in mind. Our challenges have really been Covid-19 based. We have needed to make sure policies were implemented for all our staff and shared with clients to show work will be conducted safely and in accordance with Government guidelines.
Q – finally – what do you like to do in your spare time?
A – I have tried to keep active by cycling with some old school friends at weekends and going to the gym (when COVID-19 permits!). Pre-COVID-19, I enjoyed travelling and going to concerts all over the world and I cannot wait to get back to that lifestyle! I have had so many amazing trips postponed because of this pandemic but fingers crossed I can re-book these for next year and continue my ‘normal’ life from then on.
It is nice to have an insight into the life of the Life RD! Thanks, Jeff.