A Day in the Life of Tom Billington, Assistant Quantity Surveyor

Tom joined Connolly’s back in 2017 with an aspiration to become a site manager but soon decided that a QS role was more for him. His tenacity and drive have been the key to his success throughout his training and gaining his BSc (Hons) in Quantity Surveying. He’s now working on some of our largest social housing contracts and is proof that hard work really does pay off.

Welcome to our next instalment of our ‘Day in the Life of’. A series of interviews with our people here at Connolly’s, providing insight into our day to day activities and our people. 

So, let’s go back – can you give us a brief insight into your career path which has led you to be in the position you are today?

I initially started at Connolly Ltd working alongside Site Managers and Site Operatives in February 2017, after completing a year at college and deciding it wasn’t for me. This opportunity gave me a good insight into how the sites operate, how Site Operatives work and the standard of work clients are looking for. After 10 months based predominantly on site, I started a Trainee Quantity Surveyor role which has led me to the position I am in today.

Are there any moments in your career, past or present, that stand out to you?

It’s difficult to choose a specific moment however my conversation with Liam Norbury at my first ‘Christmas do’ discussing an opportunity to join the commercial team would have to be the most defining moment of my career. I’ve never really looked back since that moment, and enjoy the challenges that working in the commercial section brings.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

The role can be very challenging at times, with multiple tasks needing to be completed at any one time. So, the ability to organise, prioritise and work with a methodical approach I would say are the most effective skills in ensuring duties are completed in a timely manner. My role includes being able to communicate with multiple individuals, teams and representatives. Cost planning, budgeting and cost analysis are also key skills within my role as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor.

Can you tell us about a typical working day for you?

No one day at Connolly Ltd is the same, which is a massive positive for me. However, a typical start to a day is working through unread emails and actioning these as I don’t like having a full inbox.

Pricing, costing and providing monetary information to clients and work colleagues creates a typical day for me, as well as carrying out site visits to measure and value works completed on site, which all contribute to a busy final week of the month in preparation for month end valuations.

We can’t do an interview without mentioning COVID-19 as it is very much the topic of conversation at the moment. How do you think Connolly reacted to the pandemic and what kind of effect on the overall industry do you think it will have?

What a year it has been. Connolly reacted brilliantly to a completely unprecedented time. As government advice was being released and what actions were to be taken, the directors kept all the staff up to date with step-by-step procedures we were to follow.

After being furloughed at the end of March, we received regular email updates along with Zoom meetings, ensuring all our communications continued. These meetings not only provided value interaction between colleagues they helped keep team morale as high as possible.

Fortunately, I returned to work relatively quickly, which gave me the chance to expand my knowledge on some new-build schemes. Before returning to work, the company made sure I was comfortable returning in the middle of a global pandemic, and I was briefed on all the new procedures and measures that had been implemented.

I think we are only now starting to see the effects of the pandemic on the industry. Material supply issues seem to be more common, however, only time will tell on the overall effects on the industry.

Where do you see Connolly Ltd in 5 years?

The growth Connolly’s has had over the past few years is considerable, and long may it continue. I think Connolly will continue to develop and grow towards their target turnover, and on this journey carrying on investing in their employees to help make this happen.

Can you tell us about the hardest moment in your career and how you overcame it?

In all honesty, I don’t feel as though I’ve yet come across a real hard point in my career as of yet. Although life really can throw anything at you, Connolly is a company that will support you and your choices no matter what.

If I had to answer the question, it would be starting on site. I had zero experience in the construction industry when I started, so the language and terms used really did confuse me on occasions. But if I had any advice to give it would be to ask questions!

Connolly Culture is at the heart of the business – can you describe what the culture means to you?

The best way to describe the Connolly culture is that we are all a family. Any issue can be shared and any member of staff will happily assist you with it, and that’s what makes it such a great place to work.

To be able to work with genuine, great people, whilst surrounded by a wealth of knowledge isn’t easily found, and it’s a real pleasure to work for a company like that.

What do you believe is the greatest thing that Connolly Ltd has achieved so far?

The greatest achievement has to be the continuous growth of the business. But the culture of the company allows this growth to happen. To be able to invest and support their employees so heavily is an achievement in itself.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the Construction industry?

There are so many roles within the industry, whether that’s on the tools or more office based. Explore your options and don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know where you’ll end up.

What do you love most about your job?

Job satisfaction. It may sound strange but working to and meeting deadlines, and then providing these figures and feeding back to colleagues to discuss the scheme results gives me great job satisfaction. It’s also a good chance to learn how to improve in certain aspects and develop and progress from more experienced members of the team.

Finally, if there was one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Ask more questions, no matter how obvious you think the answer is. If you aren’t sure, ask.

Everyone has to start somewhere with most not knowing elements of the business so be confident and soak in as much information as possible.