We recently spoke with Crystal Chan, Quantity Surveyor in our Manchester office on her big move from Hong Kong to England and how the industry varies internationally.
Moving from Hong Kong and relocating in England, leaving family and friends behind is a big move. What led to your decision to relocate from Hong Kong and how are you settling in? Yes, relocation in UK was really a great challenge for me since I had to leave my parent and friends, gave up my stable job and substantial income to start my ‘second life’. It is not easy to make such decision even I have never visit UK before. However, when I see my children growing up healthily with happy faces always and we sustain work-life balance in here, I think it’s worth for me to take this option . I’m so fortunate that my family haven’t spent too much time settling in and everything is fine right now.
How long have you worked in the construction industry and why did you choose this industry as a career? How did you get into the industry? After completion of bachelor’s degree in university, I started my career in a small cost consultant. It was already more than 20 years ago! I haven’t stepped into other business other than quantity surveying.
Having attended a seminar when I was in secondary school, I believed being a quantity surveyor would obtain job satisfaction and stable remuneration. Hence, I picked a course of quantity surveying in university. Eventually, I think it’s not too far away from what I expected at all.
How does your job as a quantity surveyor in the UK differ from your previous role in Hong Kong? Are the types of projects much different? My previous job in Hong Kong was working in a quasi-governmental organization to monitor expenditures with different fund sources and to vet consultants’ deliverables for campuses projects. After relocated, I am in a consultant now to participate some heritage and conservation projects. Such kind of projects is very intriguing for me since I have never come across in my past.
What are the biggest differences you are finding in your day to day work between the construction industry in England and in Hong Kong? Do you see any big differences in the material/ technical specifications on projects in the UK? I find the major difference is that consistently work overtime of staff (without extra pay!) is expected by Hong Kong employers whilst I can obtain balance of work-life with my family in here that work overtimes are just happened occasionally. As most practices for Hong Kong construction industry are derived from UK, I don’t think too many divergences of specifications between two places. However, some materials or designs that usual in UK are seldom appeared in Hong Kong. For instance, external facing brickworks, timber construction and pitched roof, maybe due to differentiation of climate.
What do you enjoy most & least about life in Manchester? What do you miss most about life in Hong Kong? Manchester is a place that I can’t complain. Convenient in transport, dining, shopping and many amusement places around. Only the one I dislike is the weather since Manchester is too chilly during winter! The most I missed in Hong Kong is that I was always gathered with my family and friends for trying different delicious cuisines and feast.
Do you think there are more opportunities for women in construction in the UK, compared to Hong Kong? I haven’t felt any difference in both places from my experience. I believe nowadays most employers focus on competence of candidate instead of gender. On the other hand, I feel female tends to be more popular in construction industry in recent years, especially working with contractors.
How do you like to unwind outside the office? I like to explore different scenic places by driving all around when out of work. Having leisurely dinners with much chit-chit and laughter with my family and friends is also a way for me to unwind.
And finally, what attracted you to working at Appleyard & Trew? I would like to join a prestige company with smart professionals to start my career in UK whilst Appleyard and Trew is a reputable consultant in UK founded over 50 years, I truly think this is the company I want. Of course, office location is one of the attractions for me. I am also appreciated of company’s flexibility when I need to take care of my kids as well. So grateful I have nice bosses and colleagues that they tolerate me a lot and I can get along with them easily.
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