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News & opinion

2 DEC 2019

Celebrating RICS Fellows

On Monday 25th November, RICS welcomed to the London office a group of new Fellows to celebrate their success in achieving FRICS status. 2018/19 saw the largest number of women achieving fellowship; a welcomed and continued rise in diversity across all levels of the profession.

Fellows heard from Chris Brooke, RICS President, on the important contribution and value of FRICS and how this status can further advance the profession in excellence, professionalism and influence.

Kath Fontana, RICS Senior Vice President made a passionate speech about the difference that FRICS status has made to her and her career:

“My journey to Fellowship was what you might call accelerated. I am a latecomer to the letters, becoming a Charted Surveyor at the grand old age of 44. Up until then, I had been working in a variety of senior roles in the facilities management sector (with a spell in residential property management). Throughout my career, I worked with many chartered professionals, and this was something I really wanted to achieve for myself. I was particularly inspired when I met my first female Chartered Surveyor who is now one of my closest friends. She was a great role model for me in that she was a consummate professional (and still is) and was able to manage her career with a young family. We both worked for a Fellow of the RICS who seemed ancient at the time but, was younger than I am now!

RICS Fellows group photo London
The new RICS Fellows

“Some years later, I got the opportunity to be in the first cohort of FM APC candidates. I am proud to be in the first 3 in the UK to qualify in this route on 24 July 2011 and, incidentally, my husband was one of the other 2.

“I am the sort of person who loves having a goal to strive towards and I always want to push myself to the highest possible level. I have to tell you that at this stage I was thinking, I would like to be President one day!

“But having become MRICS, my next goal was FRICS. First, though, I wanted to give back to the profession and so I became very involved in the FM Board, becoming the chair in 2013. I was also very active in the world of BIM and Soft Landings. At this time, I found the power of social media and used that as a platform to promote professionalism. And, of course, I was an active mentor, especially of junior women. So, there came a point when I felt that I was ready to apply for Fellowship, and I achieved that on 3 January 2014. So, as I say, my journey has been somewhat accelerated.  Having waited 23 years to become chartered, I became a Fellow within 3 years of qualifying.

“Five years later, what has this meant to me? I see Fellowship as both an honour and a responsibility. Especially as often I am the only female in the room, it offers me an automatic badge of status and excellence that assures my credentials to others. It has certainly opened doors for me. It gave me more confidence to apply for the great honour of the Presidency. And I cannot put into words how personally important that is to me.

“In terms of responsibility as a Fellow, I am very conscious of my duty to promote and help develop the very highest standards of professionalism in my field. That is why I continue to work on the FM Professional Group and will support the new Leader’s Forum. Never has the built environment faced a bigger challenge than the climate crisis, or greater opportunity than that offered by technology. You are all now leaders of the profession. So, I urge you too to not simply to use Fellowship to advance own career, but to pay it forward and to lead your field in the acquisition knowledge, and to advance the profession for the public advantage.”