Aurora Barrett

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I am a Graduate Surveyor in Savills London Rotation on the Commercial Pathway. I joined Savills in September 2020 after completing my undergraduate degree in June 2020. I am currently preparing to sit the APC in Autumn 2022.

I got the job by going through the Graduate Scheme application, sending in a CV and cover letter to the Savills HR portal. I then joined the assessment day and was split into teams with other applicants, where we were assessed through aptitude tests, testing our commercial awareness, situational judgement and presentation skills as we had to present a 5-minute presentation on the day. Later on, I was notified that I would be going to the next stage. I prepared for an interview with a panel of 3 Directors from Savills, where I had a conversation with them and answered questions about myself, real estate and why I choose Savills.

I chose Savills because I see them as leaders, experts and innovators in the real estate market. I witnessed this through multiple experiences with Savills. As a Student, I was able to gain work experience and shadowing opportunities in a couple of Savills’ teams, this included Savills’ Greater London Residential Team, Savills’ Commercial Valuation Team and a separate group of Savills, Savills’ Investment Management where I had the opportunity to shadow the Charities Property Fund Team. Being able to learn the diverse products and clients Savills work with, the incredible resources and data collection of their Research team and most of all to go on site and physically see the impact of their work was inspiring to me. I have an interest in funds and investment, so knowing that I can qualify as a Surveyor and also rotate and potentially get a permanent seat client side is a selling point for me.

Furthermore, Savills powerful brand carries a long heritage and well-deserved reputation in the industry with the industries recognition that Savills provide one of the most resourceful and supportive Graduate Schemes to lead applicants to complete their APC. I saw how Savills was making waves with their six diversity and inclusion groups and multiple sub-groups, I saw the fun activities of the teams and innovative opportunities such as the in-house Dragons Den. At the end of the day I saw that I could grow with Savills. That Savills would be the best place for my development in my early career.

Aurora’s day to day

A day to day for a Graduate Surveyor can vary from which team you are rotating in, but comparisons can be (in the Lockdown experience), logging into your desktop, joining the Microsoft teams calls, immediately chatting with your directors and the Team secretary about your workload and capacity. This included preparing for internal/ external meetings. Updating your Graduate monitor so everyone in the Team knows what projects you are working on and which director you are supporting and your capacity to do more, (more typical if you are working with a larger team). Keeping in contact about your progress. Joining online sessions for CPD experience for your APC (some of these are compulsory some are optional). When you have time, than logging that CPD experience into ARC. Having training and induction sessions with your team and 1 to 1 meetings with your Director and general department training sessions which you can opt into for new technologies or sector updates.

Typical for Valuation team - Getting ready to go on on-site visits for inspections (in Lockdown this was external unless it was a vacant unit otherwise you were relying on the building survey report, with restrictions easing we do not have to report under material uncertainty). On inspection taking photos and taking notes. Completing Inspection Forms. Completing due diligence, background information, planning information, rates changes anything that effects the property and its income must be looked into. Completing conflict checks. Completing sections of reports. Making comparable calls and filling in pink sheets. Joining meetings with clients. When I was in Affordable Housing we used DCF’s to value on EUV-SH and MV-STT bases, in Commercial Valuation it was typical to value using ARGUS on a typical Market Rent, Market Value and Investment Value bases. With every valuation you must be careful of what the purpose, bases and the date of valuation. Making sure all that data was in-line for the report was an important factor of standard due diligence.

I also did a rotation in Property Management – It was more typical to be in back to back meetings with clients and tenants. Completing workflows on new leases and going through lease terms, writing letters to tenants or emailing. Liaising with the credit control teams, liaising with the accountants, preparing property management reports, problem solving on calls. Supporting the Service Charge Budget audit or the Service Charge report. Making arrears reports and updating clients. Being in charge of service charge/ rent collection for a tenant and payment plan conversations with them (as rent moratorium period of lockdown meant it was hard for Landlords to implement recovery options, so often negotiating payment plans and concessions rather than serving an LBA). Typical to write up a licence to alter or review a tenants notice of assignment or support a CPSE. It’s typical to be on call with the RFM (regional facilities manager) daily and to be on site for general meetings.

At Savills you receive quite a bit of training and inductions into new systems and how different teams function and their internal structure. There is so much variety in real estate and Savills really incorporates all those different teams and gives them that flexible model that allows even Graduates to have agency when getting on with their work. Whilst still having that formal structure of reporting to your APC team mentors and the Director and Associate you are supporting. Which is why I have really enjoyed working in Savills, that despite the multiple struggles of the lockdowns it has been adjustable, flexible and still very social.