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News & opinion

25 JUL 2022

RICS members working to inspire the next generation of black professionals

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has partnered with built environment professionals to offer information sessions for students from two prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S. to inspire the next generation of black professionals.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), according to The Higher Education Act of 1965, are defined as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans…”  

As part of this partnership, RICS members spent some time with students at Virginia State University (VSU) and Morgan State University (MSU) in Baltimore, to offer them an insight into careers in construction and real estate, and answer their questions about the benefits of, and skills required to work in the built environment.

Chris Carson FRICS, Director of Program & Project Controls at Arcadis, and Tiffany Hosey, CEO of BuilDATAnalytics spent the day with a group of aspiring young professionals at VSU.

Wanting to offer the students an authentic experience, Chris and Tiffany gave the students a case study and role play to work through, to decide whether the University should build a new dormitory to meet future student needs, or to lease an existing building built by a developer. They held a workshop to identify the greatest risks, and develop potential solutions.  

Speaking about the day, Carson said, “The group was engaged and thoughtful and I was impressed with the poise, demeanor, maturity, and positive attitude of the students in the class.

“The College staff were helpful, and the students came up with some great insight related to construction, finance, scheduling and reputational risks that might surface in either scenario.”

Jonathan Young, Director of Corporate Relations at VSU, said: “At this HBCU, we on average host 250 companies in the classroom in a semester to guest teach, but few demonstrate a mastery of experiential learning and capacity to connect with our students like these RICS professionals.

Students learn best by doing and these RICS professionals exemplified that truism. For that, at VSU we are grateful. I should add, the RICS representatives drove on average two hours to campus just to lead the session! I think that says a lot!” 

Morgan State University held their information session online. Rodney Harris, from Turner & Townsend, Tiffany Hosey, BuilDATAnalytics, Shardon Haye, Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Anil Sawhney, Programme Lead, Construction at RICS, drew on their vast experience of working in the built environment to educate the students about the sector.

“We remain firmly committed to building a strong relationship between our members from the Americas and HBCUs all over the United States,” Sawhney remarked.

“Our session with students and faculty at Morgan State University brought the real-life perspectives of construction industry professionals into the classroom, allowing them to highlight the quantum and quality of career opportunities available in our sector.”

Allen Williams, Partner Development Manager, RICS, who was instrumental in setting up RICS’ collaboration with HBCUs, added, “HBCUs have played an important role in American history. They’ve produced prominent historical figures and helped to ensure equal opportunity to education.”

“RICS is excited to work with our members and industry partners like Turner & Townsend on this initiative. This is a small yet important step to help cultivate a more diverse workforce for the built environment.”

Tiffany Hosey, speaking about her involvement in both sessions said, “One of the biggest challenges with the built environment is educating the next generation on the vast career options available to them.  We must combat the perception that careers in construction mean only picking up hammers and nails, and instead, inspire people to explore the myriad creative and technological opportunities in the sector. Financial, legal, strategy, international and domestic policy careers abound.

“I’m excited to represent a dynamic organization like RICS in informing and encouraging the next generation of leaders in construction and real estate.”

In relation to this initiative, earlier this year, Georgia Bergers MRICS, Chair of the RICS in the Americas DEI working group, demonstrated her passion for championing the next generation of black professionals in the built environment by taking on an epic cycling fundraiser around Iceland. Raising funds for the Associated General Contractor Education Fund to assist students studying construction fields at HBCUs in the U.S.

“The weather-related headwinds we experienced on the ride, while extreme at times, were temporary. Some folks face unrelenting and compounding ‘headwinds’ every day. These compound to cause inequities - like education access and costs, racism, lack of career opportunities,” said Georgia.

“We all have the responsibility as professionals and businesses to recognise headwinds and take systematic measures to level the playing field and foster inclusion and belonging.

“Who we retain and bring into our profession will play a big part in how successfully we problem solve and which businesses continue to win work. We can do this by actively offering time and resources to historically underserved talent pools and partners.

“RICS is uniquely positioned to be a part of this solution with valuable offerings for institutions, students and employers, such as this.”

Find out more about joining RICS.