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Senior Team Spotlight – Robert Kim, Director, Soben North America

09.11.2021

What does a typical day look like for you?

As with everyone my days often don’t work out as I plan, I try my best to stick to a routine, but you also have to be flexible. If all goes to plan my routine consists of:

Waking up early, the mornings are important for me, it’s the only time of the day where external world can’t impact you. I avoid looking at my phone until I’ve completed my morning routine of feeding the dog, getting a workout in, and doing some journaling or meditation.

I take the puppy down for her morning walk and check my phone for the first time, I use this opportunity to catch up on emails and other notifications before settling down for the day at work. I try to split my day up into parts; mornings and late evenings being my focus hours when I get work done, the afternoon is for calls and more creative types of work.

When I get free time, I like to get out on my road bike around Central Park, grab dinner or drinks with friends or just hang out and watch whatever Netflix show I’m into at that moment.

What first attracted you to the construction industry?

I think it started with my grandad; he ran a tiling company in Leeds. I used to love going to visit him at the yard and hearing about the jobs he was doing. He was a fantastic businessman and really understood that customer experience was everything, he made a name for himself as delivering great quality locally.

That being said, I stumbled into Quantity Surveying by accident, I knew I wanted to go to university, but I didn’t like the idea of the debt. I searched in to Ask Jeeves “How to go to college without getting into debt” and that got me looking at corporate scholarships and led me to the fine profession of quantity surveying. I wrote to a few firms and found a few willing to pay me through college as I worked part-time, it’s a demanding way to do it but it meant I graduated with five years’ experience and a work-ethic that I think gave me an edge.

What are your predictions for the construction industry over the next 12-18 months?

I think it depends on the sector, Data Centers, Life Sciences, Infrastructure & High-Tech manufacturing are likely to continue to lead the industry. I think Residential & Corporate Occupier projects are going to be the interesting sectors to watch as we all start to see what the new normal looks like.

We’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage which, along with inflation, is undoubtedly going to drive up construction costs. This is going to put pressure on the industry and brings an interesting challenge to developer led schemes in major markets.

The only thing I’m really certain on is that it’s going be unpredictable, just as through the pandemic the firms which are flexible and agile are going to be best placed to capitalize. I also expect to see a lot of focus on sustainable buildings and digital delivery solutions as we generally try to move the industry forward.

What are your goals for Soben in that time?

Ultimately our goal is to build a truly disruptive consultancy firm, we want to challenge every component of the industry and redefine how construction projects are managed. I want it to be a company where employees can bring their whole self to work and where we remove ceilings allowing everyone to achieve their vision.

The next few years will be huge for Soben as we are seeing phenomenal growth, but my goals for the next 18 months is to define Soben as a true innovative force, delivering better value for our clients in an honest collaborative environment.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

Be brave, speak up when you know the answer to something and don’t let others drive where your career goes.

If you were not in construction, what path would your career have taken?

It’s hard to imagine doing anything else right now, back in school I wanted to be a Doctor but I’m not sure I have the patience for that. I enjoy the construction industry; it’s always been full of interesting people, and I think we achieve so much without getting a lot of credit from other industries. We create communities, develop skylines, and help people stay connected, it’s nice that we get to play a part in the future in such a tangible sense.