Case studies

What does a graduate job at Berkeley actually entail?
Meet the team and hear what our recent graduates have to say:

Alex Bugden

Who you are and what do you do?
My name is Alex Bugden and I am a Planner at Berkeley Strategic.

What did you study at university?
I studied a Masters in Town and Country Planning at the University of Manchester.                                                                                                                                  

Why did you apply to Berkeley?
I wanted to work around London and the South East, so as a part of the general job application process I began researching the employment market for that area. Although I had heard of The Berkeley Group, studying in Manchester meant I was not particularly familiar with the company and their developments. However, it soon became clear that Berkeley were industry leaders in delivering high quality housing. The more I learnt about our flagship developments and large scale regeneration projects such as Kidbrooke Village, the more I was inspired by the positive impacts on local communities through Berkeley's commitment to place-making. It was at this point I decided to apply for The Berkeley Group Graduate programme.

What does a typical day look like?
In terms of what the job has entailed, from the beginning of the graduate scheme the work I have been involved with has been pretty varied so it is quite difficult to summarise what a conventional day looks like. Typically I am based at the Group's office in Cobham, appraising new business opportunities, assisting the progression of current projects at varying stages along the planning process and conducting district-wide assessments within certain planning authorities that are at key periods in the Local Plan cycle. I also occasionally go out to visit existing and prospective sites in order to gain a perspective 'on the ground' of what constitutes a logical location for strategic land.

What has been your greatest achievement at Berkeley to date?
A great sense of achievement is when a site that I have identified through my research of target market areas comes to fruition in terms of agreeing an Option on the land, I am then involved in the next stages of realising the site's development potential. Seeing a piece of investigative work evolve from a desk-top study to become more of a business reality is very rewarding in terms of job satisfaction. On one site in particular I have been involved beyond the initial identification stage and have had direct involvement in liaising with the architects to draw up an initial layout as well as submitting the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment form (SHLAA form) on behalf of the site to the Council as part of the preliminary site promotion process.

Berkeley, Graduates, Alex Budgen

Rachel Hartley

I joined Berkeley Homes Central London as a Graduate Design Coordinator in March 2014. I graduated with a degree in Architecture from Nottingham University and applied to the Technical Graduate Scheme after working for 18 months at a small, residential developer in London.

I applied to Berkeley because I wanted to work for a company which was a leader in its field and was committed to training and developing its staff. I was aware of its developments across London and felt that I would have the opportunity to learn and progress in a practical commercial environment.

For me there is no typical day and that is very much the attraction of my role. For example I could be working on a technical issue using CAD software to produce floor plans and 3D models of the sites we are developing, I could be visiting a site to review how the project is evolving over time, what the practical issues are and how we might resolve them or I could be visiting a prospective supplier to get a better understanding of their product range and how it might be appropriate for a Berkeley development. One of the highlights of my role is being able to work across a variety of developments with multiple project teams and gain a wide range of experience.

I have worked on some fantastic projects in my first 15 months at Berkeley including Ebury Square, Abell & Cleland and Vista but the one that has given me the most satisfaction has been the internal project to refurbish our own offices. This was the first project where I was involved from start to finish and it was a great feeling when the finished article was delivered.

I am really happy with the support and encouragement I have received in my first 15 months at Berkeley. I feel I have continued to learn and develop in my role and I look forward to the opportunity to manage design elements of our projects in the future as I progress from my role as a Graduate to become an Architectural Design Coordinator within the design team.

Berkeley, Graduates, Rachel Hartley

Shahrier Chowdhury      

My name is Shahrier Chowdhury and I am a Technical Graduate at St James. I am currently working on the developments: Kew Bridge West Phase 1 and Brewery Wharf, Twickenham. I studied Architecture completing my Part 1 BA Honours degree at Kingston University

I spent the final year of my degree designing residential towers in Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, Israel. This provided me with an insight and opened my eyes to the world of Architecture. I am passionate about creating beautiful contemporary places to live in and I want to help create and shape the design of buildings particularly houses, schools and hospitals. I joined St James as they share my passion and one day I want to be the lead on their developments. I'm a very practical individual and enjoy understanding why things don't work. During my degree I spent a lot of time building models which helped me visualise a space, this allowed me to enhance my design skills. After graduating I wanted to join a company that supports my vision of architecture and which can help me develop.

No day is the same which is why working for St James motivates and inspires me. The enthusiasm and desire the team show in order to deliver a scheme is phenomenal and being part of a team makes it hugely advantageous for me especially at the early stage of my career. A usual day in the technical team can range from working closely alongside architects in which we discuss and review design proposals to informing a contractor of a change in the power setting of an apartment or house. Helping to manage the detailed design process of a scheme brings a breadth of challenges such as discharge of planning conditions. From the day I joined at St James I have had hands on experience across all departments and this has enabled me to further my knowledge on a daily basis. Working for St James has allowed me to develop in all areas and has given me a good grounding into the world of construction.

My greatest achievement to date is completing the Ealing half marathon in aid of the North London Hospice, a charity that St James supports.

Berkeley, Graduates, Shahrier Chowdhury

Mandela Onuba

My name is Mandela Onuba and I am a graduate surveyor at One Blackfriars, I joined St George in 2014 after studying a degree in Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying at London South Bank University. Management from Berkeley attended a networking event organised by the University and I was given an opportunity to get to know more about the business , the different developments that were being worked on and the opportunities available to graduates. I left the networking event wanting to discover more about the company and went home to do further research.

Working at One Blackfriars is unique, we are a company within St George which in turn is a company within the Berkeley Group and we work as an autonomous unit. Each operating company and development have their own culture so visiting the different sites and offices is always exciting to see how they differ. Working as a graduate here gives you a real experience of the property development cycle; there are huge opportunities to develop and to put the theory learnt at university into practice. There are many challenges along the way and no day is the same. I spend my days on a variety of activities including procurement, valuations, estimating and contract administration but there are always senior members of staff on hand to answer any questions. As Berkeley are responsible for the entire development cycle, communication is key as we have to coordinate projects across a number of departments, we regularly hold inter-departmental meetings so the entire project are aware of any changes to the development and can be updated on current phases.

Although I have only been at Berkeley for a year I am treated as a valued member of the team at the development One Blackfriars, I have already managed to make some important contributions to the development including estimating important changes and preparing contracts.

Berkeley, Graduates, Mandela Onuba

Daniel Hau

My name is Daniel Hau and I am a Construction Graduate working on the St Edward project, Kensington Row. We are currently working on the basement box, bearing piles and imminently starting on the superstructures. I started at St Edward having studied a BSc in Construction Management at Coventry University.

When you think of Berkeley, you immediately think, high standards and elite products. This was a major consideration when applying to Berkeley, as I wanted to work for an organisation that took its product seriously with a proven track record of delivering it time and time again. Another important factor was the variety of work that Berkeley do, from high rise residential in the heart of London to more traditional housing within the home counties. The personal development from working for such an organisation has great rewards, I have definitely learnt a lot in a short time working for Berkeley.

A typical day for me would be the management of contractors, ensuring that works are progressing, whilst also meeting the high standards we demand. Currently that involves checking on the piling progress, quality assurance for our pre-pour checks, ensuring works are being conducted as the contractor has agreed and keeping site records up to date.

My greatest achievement so far, has been to manage the entire demolition process of an existing building on Phase 2 of Kensington Row, a close second would be managing the secant piling for our Phase 1 basement box. Both were major processes within our project and to be overseeing these was a great learning experience.

Berkeley, Graduates, Daniel Hau