20 JUN 2019
Yvonne Connolly's enthusiasm for guiding young professionals can be heard in her voice, as she describes her volunteer work as an RICS assessor and counsellor: "I like to help people progress in their career."
Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Connolly has been volunteering with RICS in the Americas since she arrived in New York in 2002, including several years as Tri-State Chapter Chair. She's now an assessor for the APC assessments, where her role includes both Building Surveying and Project Management Pathways.
As of fall 2018, she became one of only four licensed assessor trainers in North America. She encourages more senior-level professionals like herself to sign up as an RICS assessor, while observing that it benefits her career to be known as one of the RICS assessors: "The assessors are my peers, they're all on my level." Yvonne says a volunteer assessor will spend less than 20 hours on an assessment about two to three times per year.
The assessments are also good networking opportunities, she says: "I like to note if there's an exceptional candidate on the other side of the interviewing table who may be a potential fit with openings at my company."
Connolly currently works at Linesight, which delivers consultancy services to construction projects around the world. As a senior project manager, her focus is on corporate interiors, and her projects include relocating clients into new office environments at the end of the a 15-year-lease, where she incorporates new technology and ideas about collaborative workspace, with the enjoyable bonus that she gets to see people move into the workspace and start using it.
The assessors aren't out to get you. And the assessors are good at structuring questions, so if you're confused during the interview, ask them to repeat or structure the question in another way.
In the meantime, she runs the Talent Management Program at Linesight, a collaboration with RICS, that offers customized training and provides support for APC candidates to prepare their paperwork and get ready for the interview, including mock interviews and workshops. She often tells candidates that she wouldn't propel them forward for the assessment if she felt they were unprepared:
"The assessors aren't out to get you. And the assessors are good at structuring questions, so if you're confused during the interview, ask them to repeat or structure the question in another way."
One of her biggest tips for young professionals who may be applying for the APC is to focus on professionalism: "You can still be relaxed and professional at the same time. But think about how you're presenting yourself. Take some pride, as you're representing yourself, first, and RICS, second." She often advises APC candidates to think about the interview as meeting a prospective new client, where the professional is trying to assure the client of their competency and skill, and win the new business.
Yvonne credits RICS with helping her to make the move to New York from working in the U.K.: "I only applied to six companies and they were all affiliated with RICS. I felt better about applying to companies that work closely with RICS. I knew them from the U.K. and that they have that level of professionalism that I look for." She targeted large international companies that had offices in the U.K. and New York, with the idea that options to work on both continents could give her flexibility.
Luckily for RICS in the Americas, Yvonne has been happily working and volunteering in the U.S. ever since.