I moved to London from Scotland leaving friends and family in Aberdeen, I had no real friends or family in London so it was a big step for me personally. I went to secondary school at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, and did subjects such as maths, geography, and business management. I then went on to study quantity surveying at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
I first became interested in property in the early part of secondary school. I had a family friend who purchased and renovated an old bungalow, and I was amazed by the transformation and found the concept of adding value really interesting. This definitely pushed me in the direction of quantity surveying at university.
After graduating, I was struggling to choose between the oil and gas industry, both of which had a heavy presence in Aberdeen, as well as the construction industry. My parents were in London on a trip and stayed in a hotel beside one of Berkeley's developments, Goodman's Fields in Aldgate. They were really taken by the quality and design touches, and the sense of place that Berkeley had created. After they told me, I looked up the company and was very impressed, and by coincidence they were accepting applications for the graduate scheme.
The recruitment process was very thorough. I had to fill out an online application, visit an assessment centre, have meetings with different Berkeley Group operating companies, and finally a visit to one of the developments. At the assessment centre the questions were more to do with the industry as a whole, and it was really more of a conversation than a traditional interview. This makes you feel really relaxed and I think gets the best out of the candidate.
The Graduate Scheme is very well structured. At the start there was a two-week induction with the rest of the graduates from the other Berkeley Group operating businesses. After this you go into your division and at some point within the first few months you go out on rotation around different departments to get a feel for what they do. There is a lot of support from the company, with access to a mentor who's there as a listening ear, and to offer advice if you have any issues during your first year or so.
The most significant experience I've had with Berkeley so far has been an event that was put on for the graduates where Rob Perrins, Managing Director of the Berkeley Group, came to answer our questions. It was great to have the chance to meet somebody that high up and get their perspective on the company, politics, and the economy. It was just great to see how invested he was in the Graduate Scheme.