Nicholas Daruwalla

"I wanted to work in an industry where there is the opportunity to create/change the built environment in a positive and sustainable way."

Job Title: Graduate Trainee

Employer: Crest Nicholson PLC

Job: Land Manager

About my job

What does your department do?

I work for the Land division within Crest Nicholson Strategic Projects. We acquire strategic sites across the South of England, promoting them to Local Planning Authorities with the aim of achieving housing allocations and to obtain optimal planning consents for residential-led development. Through the planning process, we promote and design schemes placing a great emphasis on delivering high quality through utilising best practise place making principles.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

  • Assist with the planning promotion of large strategic sites, reporting to the Planning Director. This involves the management of consultant teams, including master planning, transport/highways, ecology, landscaping, political, heritage, services/utilities, and geotechnical. 
  • Assist with putting together planning applications for large strategic sites, including design.
  • Assessing the feasibility of new land opportunities which are presented to Crest Strategic Projects, as well as negotiating for the acquisition of additional land surrounding our existing sites.
  • Putting together bids/proposals for new land opportunities working closely with the Land Director and Group Land & Planning Director.
  • Carry out development appraisals, usually in the form of a residual land value appraisal based on the proposed structure of acquisition.

What do you like about what you do?

  • Every project is different. Each project has its own challenges, opportunities, and risks. Managing these with the aim of securing optimal outcomes for the company is an exciting challenge. 
  • Being able to be part of the planning process where there is an opportunity to assist in designing new sustainable places to live which people will be proud to call home is a really fulfilling aspect of my role. 
  • It is exciting to analyse potential new land opportunities, as ultimately these are what will contribute to the company’s long term success. 
  • In this role I am gaining extensive experience in the construction industry. The learning curve is steep and diverse, meaning that the role is never routine or mundane.

Why did you choose this career?

  • I wanted to work in an industry where there is the opportunity to create/change the built environment in a positive and sustainable way. In a world where environmental issues are focused stringently upon, the industry has the opportunity to help sustainably develop the future built environment. Through clever design solutions, and forward thinking planning, it is possible to create sustainable, cutting edge developments. 
  • This career provides the opportunity to regenerate previously run-down, deprived, or unused areas and the potential to breathe life into local communities with carefully planned, exciting developments. 
  • Housebuilding is an exciting industry, and the projects you have the opportunity to work on are diverse. 
  • This career involves constant communication and networking with people, both internally and externally from the company. There is the opportunity to work with a wide range of people, whether they are agents, planning officers, local councillors/politicians, landowners, technical consultants or architects. Every project is run as a team, and involves working with a set of people with a diverse skillset, and this is a great part of the job.

What qualifications did you need to get this job?

  • I required at the least an undergraduate degree. In my case I obtained a BSc (hons) Economics degree, however there are many fields of study which could lead to a career in this job such as Planning, Geography, Law, Politics, and Engineering to name but a few.
  • A mandatory requirement was a degree level qualification in Planning. In my case this was obtained through an MSc in Planning, Design and Development. 
  • Developers are generally seeking students who have a good academic record, a genuine interest in the industry, as well as the key skills required to manage large scale projects with big budgets. 
  • A demonstration of strong communication skills is very important, so previous work experience to help develop your skills certainly will help you in getting a job in this industry.

Is there any particular advice you would give to someone looking for a career in your area of work?

  • Don’t be shy! If you are keen in finding out more about the industry, actively seek out work experience with developers, as generally there are not many advertised opportunities for internships. 
  • Go for it! Housebuilding is an exciting industry, and now is a great time to be working within it. There is a genuine need for new homes in the UK, and a shortage of people to help deliver them. There is cross-party political support for more housing, and it is becoming an increasingly important political topic. There are great career progression opportunities, making it a lifetime career and not just a job!

Questions & Answers

What hobbies or interests do you have?

I have a keen interest in Architecture and Urban Design, and I enjoy going to exhibitions, events, and public talks related to these topics. London has a great offering! I am also a keen sports fan, and play a number of sports myself. Squash is a big hobby for me. I also love to go travelling and explore new places, whether this be abroad, in the UK, or within the town/city I live.

What’s your favourite type of music?

I often have my taste in music criticised, as I greatly enjoy anything 80’s!

What’s your favourite film / film genre?

Anything funny or packed with action is normally good enough for me.

Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?

I like city breaks and have been very fortunate to visit many diverse cities across many different parts of the world. I am fascinated by the way people live in different countries, and how major cities across the world differ so greatly. All cities generally aim to achieve similar objectives, but this is achieved in so many different ways - there is no single recipe for a successful place.