Updated: Oct 30
Building a Better You
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What is this week's blog about?
In this week’s blog, we speak to Mayur Dasani MRICS – newly qualified Chartered Surveyor and star of the #TheLifeOfASurveyor podcast and Instagram account.
Below are Mayur’s own words and story of his APC journey. He gives plenty of helpful advice and demonstrates that it takes perseverance, confidence, competence and a good sense of humour to become MRICS qualified.
So, what has Mayur been up to since passing his APC?
‘The delay in releasing my latest podcast episode was not intentional. I've genuinely been really busy! The reason I've been busy and quite silent on the podcast is I've been studying for my APC, which is something I've been doing while I started the podcast.
One of the reasons that I created the podcast was to help me revise because I talk about various property related issues. I'm always learning as I go along, and it has helped me to help me to revise and understand things a bit better, if I'm talking to someone about it.
The second reason that I've been a bit distant from the podcast is because I've been busy with work, I am lucky that during the COVID pandemic - I’m still employed and haven’t been furloughed. And if anything, COVID has made me busier than ever. I'm working from home and I'm doing more hours than I usually would if I was sat in an office. I think the time that it would take me to commute to the office, I'm now utilising to do more work. I'm a bit more productive and my workload has increased as well.
And then the third reason I've been quite distant from the podcast is because I've set up a new charity called Bhojan Daan. It is a project where I am working with a number of other people and charities to help eradicate hunger and poverty in India. I am proud to say though that we have been able to provide meals to 16 families, as well as two oxygen concentration concentrator machines.
You can find out more about Bjojan Daan here.
How did Mayur find out about his APC result?
The results are usually published on the RICS ARC, before being sent out via email.
On the day that I thought I would get my results, I woke up, had a coffee, and then looked on ARC on a whim. And there it was, in black and white; “Congratulations, you've been successful in your assessment”.
But I still wasn't convinced, I still thought that it wasn’t true! I checked again though on ARC and my email, and it was real! I’d done it.
The first thing I did was call my mum. She’d just finished her morning prayers, so she was a bit surprised that I’d called so early on.
She burst into tears of joy. Seeing her reaction on FaceTime was a great feeling. I knew she’d been waiting for the day that I became chartered for years. It was just an immense feeling of proudness for both me and my mum.
My mum ran downstairs to my dad who was doing his walk in the garden. She basically threw the phone towards him and said, listen to what Mayur’s got to say. They live near Heathrow, and it can be noisy with air traffic, so it was quite difficult to hear each other on the speaker! Eventually, it got through and my dad was ecstatic.
And then I had to get on with my day's work, but this time as a Chartered Surveyor!
How did Mayur become a Chartered Surveyor?
So, I am now a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor and have passed my APC. I got my results earlier this week and I am pleased to say I got there after five years in the making! (Yes, I was previously referred!)
So, what did it take for me to get to this level? And what was the preparation like? What did I do in terms of planning?
The APC required me to have two years of experience under the Commercial Property 24 month structured training route. I achieved this through my roles working client-side for retailers in estate management teams.
In my final assessment submission and interview, I had to show that I am competent in the role that I am doing. There were certain criteria that I needed to achieve, split into three levels:
Level 1, which is your knowledge. So, you should know what you're talking about for each competency!
Level 2 is the application of that knowledge for each competency.
Level 3 is providing reasoned advice for each competency.
So, you need to be achieving Levels 1, 2, and 3 for certain competencies. This depends on what pathway you take, what competencies you choose and what level are required by the pathway guide.
What are Mayur’s top tips for APC success?
Over the last few years, I have been keeping a log of all the tasks that I have done and all the projects I have worked on. For me as a commercial property surveyor, this included rent reviews, lease renewals, day to day property management, estate management work, service charges and insurance. It also included big projects as well, which was within estate management, but also linking into other areas as well, such as project management.
I kept a track of my experience in my structured training diary and Summary of Experience on ARC. I also had to write up a case study, based on a project I've worked on. For my submission, I submitted a case study based on a lease renewal, acting as a landlord against another retailer tenant.
In my Summary of Experience, I put in 2 or 3 examples for each competency. I changed these as I went along. So, you can put one in at the start of the process. If, a couple of months down the line, you’ve done something else that demonstrates your competence a bit better, you can swap these in. My best examples were the most recent ones because I could call them to mind much easier.
It's crucial that you know what you've put in your submission and you're able to recall it and explain it clearly and confidently. So, make sure your Summary of Experience is relevant and not too historic.
For my CPD record, I made sure I was familiar with every entry as I was asked about one of these in my interview.
Moving on, the format of the APC interview requires you to present your case study to the panel in the first 10 minutes. You don't really want to be repeating what you've already put in your case study, because the assessors have already read that. So, you could discuss new things in there, or add additional detail to what you have already written (because there is a limited word count for the written submission).
Here’s an example of the latter, in my case study I said I inspected the property, but I didn’t say what I did on the inspection. Instead, I talked about this in the presentation, e.g., I carried out a risk assessment, inspected the property outside and then inside and so on...
Did you receive any support for your APC?
When I passed, I told my counsellor, Dan Berrevoets, who I can't thank enough for his support, straight away. I then told my manager, who was in a meeting at the time, so I messaged him on Microsoft Teams.
The news then cascaded through my family and friends!
Becoming MRICS might not be a big thing for some people, but for me, it's even more reason to be proud, because my parents didn’t go to university and were both from small villages.
I also enlisted the help of Property Elite because I’d read their testimonials and heard feedback about them. Jen, who is one of the co-founders of Property Elite, reached out to me through the podcast and offered support.
I signed up to their Full Monty package, where they fully review your submission, provide you with bespoke APC questions and conduct a mock interview. I cannot tell you how beneficial this was because the question pack was the basis of my revision.
I literally asked friends and family to run through these questions throughout the day. I spent a few hours each day going through the questions and making sure I know the answers off by heart and becoming familiar with what could come up in my interview.
Quite a lot of those questions did come up in the interview, so I knew the answers!
How did Mayur revise and prepare effectively for his final assessment interview?
Revision wise, I tried to cram in as much revision time as I could. Most of my evenings and weekends for the last six or so weeks were revision, revision, revision. Prior to that, I was updating my submission on a regular basis. I would definitely recommend keeping on top of your submission. Little and often is perfect, so try and take some time out of every day for your APC if you can. Book it out of your diary so there is no excuse for ignoring it!
One of the key messages that my Counsellor, Dan, told me, was not to bluff your your way through the interview as the assessors will know.
If you don't know something, tell the panel you don't know something and find a way to signpost them to the right answer or explain how you would advise a client in this scenario.
In the last week before my interview, I was running through my submission and I made sure I knew my submission inside out because I knew I could get questioned on any part of it!
Many candidates miss out on reading up on the current affairs and hot topics. At the time of my interview, RICS were going through several independent consultations and reviews. It’s controversial but I made sure I knew the detail and had an opinion on what was going on.
It's important that you look at the APC as a wider assessment of competence, rather than just focusing on your individual competencies, such as Inspection. For example, I was asked about the RICS valuation review and my views on this.
How did Mayur find the online APC interview?
The APC interview format has now shifted from face to face to online interviews using Microsoft Teams. You still face either 2 or 3 assesses. However, you're now looking at them on a screen rather than face to face.
Obviously can't knock on the door and shake the hand of your assessors, but you are expected to dress smartly. Make sure you are suited and booted for the interview.
I treated the APC as if I was going to meet a client and my client was asking me various questions to check that I knew what I was talking about.
Once you are into the meeting room, the chairperson will introduce themselves. They'll check that you can see and hear them, and they will introduce each of the assessors as well. If there are any technical difficulties, there is an allowance of 10 minutes. If you can resolve the issue within those 10 minutes, you get 10 minutes added onto the end of your interview time so that you still get your full hour. Beyond 10 minutes and your interview will be rescheduled.
With the introductions out of the way, you will then have an icebreaker moment with the chairperson and the assessors. This helps to break down barriers and to make you feel a bit more comfortable.
The chairperson will also run you through the format of the interview and ask whether you are fit, well and happy to proceed with the interview.
The next stage is your 10 minute presentation. You can share your screen, perhaps with a PowerPoint presentation. You should have practised your presentation to the T to make sure it's within the 10 minutes. If you are overrunning, the chairperson may confirm you have a short time left or that you need to bring it to a close.
This is quite off putting, as it happened in a couple of my mocks. Don’t let it happen – it’s not a good look! Overrunning also shows to the assessors that you can't stick to a brief.
The assessors will then start questioning you on your presentation and your case study, before moving on to your technical and mandatories competencies. They should signpost you through these too.
Once the panel have heard what they want to hear, they'll say, ‘Okay, thank you’ and then move onto the next question.
If you haven't quite answered what they want to hear, they will try and push you by asking you something different or to sign post you towards what they want to hear.
Once all your competencies have been questioned, one of the frustrating things is that assessors have the best poker faces. You won't know what they're thinking or whether what you've said is right, whether it's wrong or whether they're happy with it, you just don't know! This is how they are trained by RICS to ensure a consistent and fair assessment experience for all candidates.
The final part of the interview will be where the chairperson will ask you about ethics and the Rules of Conduct. A wrong answer here will lead to a referral. So, know this part inside out!
At the end of the interview, the chairperson will conclude and explain that you'll get the results in five working days. Then that’s it! Exit the call and turn your camera off.
One of the things I did after my interview was to go straight back into work. The reason I did this was because if I took the time off, my mind would be wondering and I’d be thinking about what I should have said.
It was a weird feeling because I had a few controversial questions which I thought I covered quite well. As I passed, I guess the panel liked what they heard, but at the time I just didn’t know!
The wait was antagonising. My recommendation would be to just keep yourself busy, take your mind off the APC and just relax. Don't think about the interview or the result, as you can’t change it after the interview.
And Mayur’s final words of advice?
If you've got a vision, stick to it and one way or another, you'll get there. In the end, your hard work will pay off. You might not get it first time around. You might not get it second time around, but you keep trying and you will get there.
Just don't give up. That's the main thing. Don't give up.
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Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.
N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.