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10 SEP 2020

Chartered Surveyors: At the heart of the built environment

Meet Matthew Ockleston MRICS, a real estate lawyer in New Zealand, who has recently become a Chartered Surveyor.

Why did you decide to pursue your APC and become chartered by RICS?

I was looking for a professional organisation which related to my own practice, and where my clients were active. I had encountered RICS and its members over the years and been impressed by its strong reputation for high standards, and therefore the credibility that this gives to Chartered Surveyors. I was also attracted by the fact that RICS is multi-disciplinary, it covers the whole built environment industry, rather than just one profession or discipline.

I had heard of the global recognition that being Chartered holds even when someone doesn’t know you, your work history or experience, they recognise the endorsement that being Chartered gives you, which is international and very highly respected.

Dentons is a global firm and I could see that this international recognition would help me engage with contacts around the world.

Matthew Ockleston MRICS, Managing Partner (Auckland), Dentons Kensington Swan

For a real estate lawyer in particular, being Chartered is very rare, so offered a unique way for me to stand out from the crowd, but in a way that would particularly resonate with people in my practice area. As I read through the many excellent RICS guides, I could find recognition for my experience and practice in the pathways and competencies.

The whole experience has been really positive, and I’ve had great responses from my wider contacts, which has all confirmed that seeking Chartered status was the right thing to do. In fact, I’ve already had one new client instruction solely down to my MRICS status.

On the case study

The real benefit of the case-study is not what you did, but why you did it, the thought process you went through, the choices you considered, and the option you ultimately selected, and then your reflections on the outcome, whether positive or less so.

It is very easy to describe the facts, but they are really just a backdrop against which you can demonstrate your real expertise, and (especially for Level 3) your depth of analysis and reasoning – the focus is on the application of your knowledge and skills to the factual situation, rather than the facts themselves.

Ask yourself “why, so what?” when you read your case study, everything you say needs to demonstrate your skills and experience, and provide the evidence and the opportunity to show how you satisfy the particular competencies.

How did you compose yourself in the interview?

I was slightly apprehensive beforehand, as it has been a number of years since my last interview, but the panel quickly put me at my ease. It really is much more of a conversation than an interview. I found that as soon as I started my presentation, I was happily in my comfort zone, talking about myself and my own practice, and conveying to the panel all that I enjoy in the work that I do.

The panel are not there to trip you up or test you, but to give you opportunities to shine and demonstrate all the skills and experience that you have. I kept remembering that, and drawing on examples and situations from my work history and case-studies to help answer the questions and guide the conversation.

By the end of it, I was wondering what I had ever been apprehensive about.

I made some notes beforehand of the high level points that I wanted to cover in my presentation, just so I didn’t miss anything, but I think the key thing is to keep it as natural as possible. You don’t want to be reading a script or to have so much detail in your visual aids, that they become a distraction, rather than illustrating your key points.

Ultimately the easiest way to stay composed is to know your own material inside and out, and to know the key points the panel is looking for and the evidence from your own career and work experience to show them.

What was a highlight for you going through the APC process?

One highlight was a reminder that, regardless of our particular professional background or pathway, or where in the world we practice, at the heart of everything we do is the built environment in one form or another, and the key technical and economic concepts, market factors, ethical considerations and business skills are very much the same.

So ultimately Chartered Surveyors really do ‘speak the same language’, and RICS reinforced the universality of what we do. That just helped reconfirm the global reach and recognition of RICS.

Matthew's APC advice

I came through as a Specialist, which recognised my 10+ years of work as a real estate lawyer. This is a relatively recent route to membership, but is ideal for those in senior roles who are well established in their careers.

I really encourage people to consider this route to membership. I found the whole experience with RICS very easy. The guidelines and manuals are excellent, and the staff were so helpful and supportive.

All the preparation is worth it, for every person who sees the MRICS letters and either asks you to explain it (which is a great opportunity) or already knows and expresses their congratulations and understanding of what it means to be Chartered.

It is much more of a qualification than just a membership, something you can’t gain just by filling out a form and paying a fee (although both of those are necessary), and it wouldn’t be nearly as valuable and respected if it was that easy.