Ollie who is based in the Godalming office recently completed his degree in Construction Management having studied part-time at Southbank University while working at Lysander. Here, he tells us a bit more about his decision to pursue this route and some of the advantages and disadvantages to balancing studying with work.

Tell us how you came to work at Lysander?

I studied Business and IT in 6th Form but had already decided that while I wanted to continue my studies, I didn’t want to go to University. I was keen to explore a career in construction and my Dad, who is a Building Surveyor, arranged for me to spend 4 weeks working with a local construction company. My work experience included project management and quantity surveying work and this convinced me that this was the career for me. In 2015 I enrolled at Guilford College to study an HNC in Construction Management. This was a part-time course for 1 day a week and while I was also working part-time in a Garden Centre, I was keen to find a role working in construction. I approached a recruitment consultant and was lucky enough to secure 2 interviews, one of which was Lysander. Having been interviewed by Tim and the then Chairman, Neil Taylor, I was offered the role of Trainee Project Manager working 4 days a week. I have now been here for over 5 years and during that time have completed my HNC (2 years) and degree (3 years).

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Not surprisingly it has been balancing the day job with studying, both of which were of equal importance. I chose not to tell clients that I was studying as I didn’t want them to think I was inexperienced or that I wouldn’t have enough time to devote to the project. This meant that while I was officially working 4 days a week it inevitably ran into my college day and I would often find myself ducking out of lectures to answer calls and deal with queries. That was my choice though and I am sure that if I had highlighted that I was unavailable on certain days, others would have stepped in to fill the breach. The final year of my degree course was probably the hardest, the demands on me both at college and work were hard and while I knew that if I carried on working hard I could achieve a 1st, there were days when I could happily have given up on college work and settled for a 2:1. I am glad I kept going and am very proud of what I’ve achieved.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of following this route?

For me, the advantages have outweighed any disadvantages. At the age of 24 I have completed my degree and am now working as a Project Manager, so I consider myself to be ahead of the game. Lysander funded my degree course, so I don’t have a student loan for which I am very grateful. My practical experience definitely helped me with my studies and while I know members of the team were happy to help and support with coursework, I didn’t find this necessary. I know that I wouldn’t have got a 1st without the knowledge and experience I gained while working.

I knew the disadvantages before I started and while I may have missed out on the University experience this was a sacrifice I was prepared to make. I have still been able to have a great social life with friends and managed a few nice holidays as well. Of course, there have been late nights and the stress of balancing work and studying but it has all been worth it.

So, what next for you Ollie?

I had planned to take some time out to travel after completing my degree but COVID has put paid to that idea for now so I will just have to wait until it’s safe to travel! I am planning to complete my MRICS which requires me to complete a diary for 2 years so my studying days are not quite behind me but nearly there.

Huge congratulations Ollie, we are all very proud of you.