After five decades of dedication to the world of construction, we say thank you and bid a fond farewell to the incredible Sandy Milroy as he embarks on a well-deserved retirement!
What made you get into construction?
Goodness knows, that was 50-odd years ago now! I’ve always had an interest in building things, and I did all the technical subjects at school and just really enjoyed construction. I started off doing a few jobs after school, and one included working for a company that built oil refineries. I started as a quantity surveyor in 1970 on an apprenticeship and I haven’t looked back!
You’ve worked on many construction projects over the years – which stands out to you as a favourite?
That’s a hard question. I’ve worked everywhere on so many projects. But I would likely say HS2 was a great one to work on, the detail and people made that project really enjoyable.
You’ve seen the industry change
Oh, the change has been incredible. The technology was nonexistent, the mathematics was all done mentally, no calculators or anything. Everything took 10 times as long, but now you can get an answer straight away. As times were changing you really had to keep up with new technologies, and whilst there isn’t much dedicated QS software, CostX is quite the game changer.
When I started in construction everything was in yards, feet and inches, multiplying by pounds, shillings and pence. When you went for a job as a QS, you were typically appointed for a fixed fee, which was generous, and you were assessed on your performance. You were only as good as your last job. Your client knew that because of your reputation they would be able to get the right person for the job.
Do you prefer construction now or before?
The job has changed, but it is still very much the same, so it’s difficult to say. The construction industry is great, you get to work on different projects and move on. I know the perception of a QS is a boring profession, but no two days are the same.
What has been a defining moment of your career?
I’ve got a few, the first was becoming a full RICS member in 1975. The second was when I became a partner. When I started off in surveying the goal was to become a partner, and in 1983, I accomplished that. The industry has changed, there aren’t nearly as many surveying firms as there were, as we do the work for contractors now, the whole ethos has changed. The third accomplishment was becoming a fellow in 1994.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Just to be conscientious and do your best! Think ahead of the game, and always add something more to what you’re expected to do. If you do that, you’ll always thrive.
Would you say you’ve had a good work/life balance?
Yes, for sure, I’ve had a great work/life balance. The social aspect has made it great, and I’ve made so many friends. Paul Moultrie was my apprentice when he was training, then around 8-or-so years ago he mentioned to me that he was mentoring this chap who had his own business which turned out to be Scott and Soben! I’ve really enjoyed my time here, and considering I was meant to retire years ago it says a lot.
Do you have any retirement plans?
Yes! I’m involved in several charities, one of them is canal cruising for disabled people in Scotland, called Seagull Trust. I’m not planning on doing any world cruises, I’ve seen a bit of the world, but I have no great wish to start travelling now. My wife has some jobs for me to do, so I should probably make a start with that first.
Any parting words for people at Soben?
It’s been great working with you all and you’re all doing a great job, keep on being the best there is!
If you’re looking for a long-term career, Soben is the place for you. Join us as we redefine the rules of construction consultancy. Visit sobencc.com/careers to explore our global opportunities.