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  • Writer's pictureAdewole Ademolake

Finally Becoming a Qualified Planning and Development Surveyor (RICS)

Behind every success story, there is always a back story of great disappointment. The story of success is compelling, but the story of losing and then winning is much sweeter. I guess that is why the Rocky trilogy is one of the most successful films to date. In current times, we expect nothing but perfection, but how realistic is this? Since being referred, I thought I was indifferent about the experience, but I was severely disappointed in myself in reality.

People like myself that take the APC are like zombies, tirelessly walking in the same direction towards our final assessment. After I was referred, I came back to my senses and appreciated that my life was not solely centred around becoming a qualified surveyor.

After my referral, I was ready to go again six months later (August 2018) but with a new case study. I even went as far as writing two case studies, but then I thought I was rushing the process. There is a thin line between determination and desperation. Perhaps you can tell me which one you thought I was at this time.

Imagine training intensely for two and a half years for one special day only to be knocked back and not secure the win. Any champion would jump at the first opportunity to get back in the ring and go again. I decided to take a much-needed break and focus on my most significant role in life: being a new father. My daughter was arriving, and I didn't want anything to take away from that unique moment.

A change in scenery

I learnt from this great disappointment and promised myself never to allow anything to bring me into a frenzied fixation on success. Having reviewed my referral report, I knew it would be difficult for me to become qualified working for my employer via the planning and development pathway. I needed to be in an environment that would allow me to hit my competencies.

My overall dream was to get into private property development, but without my RICS qualification, I thought my route into private development was now unattainable.

A notification came up on LinkedIn, and it was advertising for a Development Manager at Countryside Properties. I responded with lightning force. I thought was this to be my way into private property development?

After a few messages on LinkedIn, I was invited to an interview. My excitement was like the pent up pressure inside a champagne bottle. I was finally about to make my debut in private property development, a long-term dream. I explained to my interview panel that I had been referred in which they asked me to send them my referral report. Soon after, I got the call that the job was mine. This simple part of my story showed me never to be ashamed of tumbling down as it takes a greater person to show where they need help.

In the back of my mind, I thought it was way easier to explain a residual appraisal at the final APC interview used in the private sector than a discounted cash flow (NPV, IRR, etc.) used in the public sector.

What changed

As time passed between 2018 and late 2019 whilst working for Countryside Properties, the APC became less critical. My colleagues were qualified, and the MRICS behind their name on emails was a constant reminder of my shortcomings. I then thought, since I'm here, let me give it a go again. But my timescale was to take it two-three years later until I received a call from my good friend Kazeem Afolabi. I told him my plans to retake it in 2021, and he said, "get on with it as there is no time like the present, plus I would be there to support you". This conversation was in September 2019, and as they say, a word is enough for the wise, and I took his short words and ran with it.

Re-energising and refocusing

Now a father of a beautiful baby girl, working in my very demanding dream job, I now needed to get my head back into APC mode.

I had considered the feedback from my referral report, which was great, and I was more confident as I knew how the private sector appraisals work was much easier to explain than the complicated public sector discounted cash flow appraisal.

While in the Countryside, I worked on a 993 unit master planning scheme, and my day-to-day activities meant I was hitting every single competency by simply turning up to work every morning. When I came to writing my new case study and updated summary of experience, it was much more comprehensive, giving me much confidence.

When I explained to my director and manager my intentions to submit as soon as possible, they were concerned that I was taking on too much as they knew my daughter was only a few months old and that the work demands won't relent. Again, I said, I'm going for it and will make sure I keep up with my work tasks.

My target was simple, submit in February 2020 and smash the interview by June 2020.


The first time around, I was all over the place, whereas on my second attempt, I was like a seasoned scotch sipper, simply drinking to enjoy the taste.

Everyone in Countryside was an expert in property development, so it was great to rub shoulders with the industry's best.

I re-wrote some of the competencies and updated them with more up to date policies, professional standards and examples. My submission read so much better, and I had so many people read it that it was so well put together. I was impressed by the finished documents.

In the final moments, my counsellor went on holiday, and the risk of missing the deadline was now an actual issue. I had to change my counsellor last minute, who signed me off, and I was now in the game. That was a scenario that I am glad didn't turn out for the worst.

The preparation

The good thing about being referred is that you know what to expect at the interview. I was connected with some colleagues at Countryside who were going through the process, and we shared our journey.

To reinforce my knowledge, I benefited from attending an APC success event paid for by my employer where I met a few good people; one person, in particular, was James Gadson, who became one of my study friends. This training session covered everything from mandatory competencies to how the answer questions. It was great. The most valuable thing I got out of this session was the industry famous revision notes. It covers everything.

Golden revision notes by APC Success

Covid and revising

Covid was an unfortunate plague that had devastating impacts on human life both in the number of mortalities and how we live as social beings. However, this period presented me with a bittersweet gift. I was placed on furlough in March 2020 while grappling with constant news of widespread deaths resulting from the pandemic (bitter). This also meant that I could have time to revise while not worrying about losing my job (sweet). I used every waking hour during my furlough to revise, and it was relentless. Some people treated furlough as a holiday, but I maximised my revision, attended hours of CPD and had countless mock interviews.

I guess you write wherever you can

One month later, I was called off furlough, but I had revised everything I needed to know. I only had to read over my notes time and time again. The revision was clinical as I built on the revision I had done in 2018.

My daughter was just 13 months at the time, and in her mind, I was her daddy, and she obviously didn't understand that I needed to study. I was upset that I couldn't be there for her as my mind was temporally focused on the APC. If anyone put pressure on me the most, it was her I didn't want the time I had missed with her to be in vain as she is my everything.

Daddy and Daughter studying together

As a result of Covid, the RICS decided to move all final assessments online, which I thought was a good move.

My revision notes can be found by clicking here

Seeing is believing

The days before the interview

In the days leading up to my final interview, I went from expecting the best result to anticipating failure, and it kept spinning around in my mind. The day before the interview, my brain could not contain any more information, so I remember sitting on the couch with a completely blank mind. Again, my wife teased at my puzzling behaviour, but she did say that it wasn't as bad as the first time, which was a good sign.

Lionhart gave a refreshing and calming presentation before the interview, which helped calm my nerves.

The interview day

I woke up, took an intense breath, showered and had breakfast. I remember it was a hot day, and I poured myself an icy cup of water. I set up my computer on my dining table and rapidly finished the cup of water. Every second closer to 9:30 that morning, my heart became heavier and heavier and then it was 9:30, and I was waiting in a digital lobby. Then, the interview panel appeared, and my nerves evaporated like water poured on a scorching surface. I was on fire, and I was ready to explode by showing my competence on why I should be the next Chartered Surveyor in town. Most of the interview went well, but one question got me.

After the interview, I wrote down all my questions and thought the one challenging question would be the reason for my second referral.

The seven days wait

I took the week off following my final interview to spend quality time with my wife and child. I was so anxious about the result and kept saying to myself, "I failed", but I always promised myself that I would go again if I did. I went from believing I passed to be sure that I failed.

It was now Monday 15 June, the day before the decision, and I remember sitting with my family thinking, "what now?" My mind was racing like an F1 Mercedes being driven by Lewis Hamilton, not stopping for nothing. My wife then put on some gospel music which took away the pressure and left me feeling very optimistic about things. I went to bed cautious but expecting good news.

The decision

I woke up on Monday, 16 June 2020 and didn't know what to think or do. I went for a 7k run that morning to take things off my mind. I received a few phone calls from friends and family praying with me. The anguish was breath-taking as I kept refreshing the decision page, so I gave my phone to my wife and told her to keep refreshing it whilst I take a shower. I said to my wife that if you come up the stairs screaming, then I know it was a good decision; if not, we go again in six months.

I stood in the shower in suspense, but then I heard my wife running up the stairs, screaming, you passed. I cried tears of joy as a dream from 2010 had come true in 2020.

Persistence won that day, and it was a triumph for my family, friends, employers and colleagues who supported me through this riveting victory. I am so grateful to them all. Above all, I thank God for this victory.

Key lessons

Be receptive to advise and encouragement from friends and not dig yourself an isolated hole where you can not get any support. Suffer openly and honestly as the good people around you will pick you up. Without a friendly nudge from Kazeem Afolabi, I am not sure I would have qualified in 2020 or whether I would have even gone again.

Know where you need to be to get the results you want. I knew that I needed to be in a different organisation to get the results I wanted, so an opportunity to work for Countryside was heaven sent. In my mind, I knew that I would be more likely to pass my APC in a property development centric environment like Countryside Properties.

Be open to sharing your shortcomings. At my interview with Countryside, I was open about why I was s referred, and my director saw this as a strength and said he would support me through the process. He made good on that offer, and now I am qualified.

The moto of this short story is to keep your dreams alive and keep going for them.

Oh… and my name is now Adewole Ademolake MRICS, BSc(Hons), MSc



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