What are you doing now?
I left school after a year in the Sixth Form with only ten GCSEs. I was eager to get to work and looking back now I perhaps regret not finishing my higher education. I took the decision to move to London at a very young age and was lucky enough to be taken on by a film company who paid for a professional course in accounting which took me three to four years to complete.
Working and studying was much harder than being a full time student but I suppose that I was able to gain good experience in a very fun company and get paid for it. At the age of 25 after several years of working I went travelling for a year in Australia where temporary jobs showed I had a flair for sales. I worked for Red Bull in Sydney, Fosters Beer in Melbourne and a casino on the Gold Coast. Working combined with lots of fun but I viewed it as a gap year.
On my return to London in 2003 I went into Real Estate working in the Residential Sector where I was lucky to be part of a property boom across the city. I spent seven years selling Central London homes and the greatest year was probably 2006-7 in terms of financial success. As I don’t have a degree it was very hard for me to break into Commercial Real Estate within the UK so took a job with Colliers International who are one of the global leaders in Real Estate consultancy, the only downside was that I had to move to Hanoi in Vietnam! Whilst in Vietnam and with my relevant work experience I was able to study through Oxford Brookes University and I am now a Chartered Surveyor (MRICS). In July 2013 I was approached by CBRE to become a Director of their Office Services team in Hong Kong. CBRE are the biggest commercial real estate firm across the world and have an office in virtually every major city. I am involved in representing tenants who move into some of the most iconic buildings in the world such as the International Finance Centre which features in The Dark Knight and Tomb Raider.
My career has been slightly unconventional but I am lucky to really enjoy my job and live in Hong Kong which is an amazing city. It would have been much easier to have completed my education, taken a degree in a property related field and gone for a Graduate Surveyors job whilst taking my RICS course. I expect it is possible to become a full member of the RICS by around age 23 or 24 and although competition is fierce for the graduate roles it is a career for life. Starting salary would be around 25-30K but if you choose to move into brokerage style roles there are generous commission packages available on top of the basic salary.