Belfast Telegraph

Susan Mason: How awards reflect growth and improvements in property sector

Susan Mason
Susan Mason

By Susan Mason, Head of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Northern Ireland

Over 600 people squeezed into the Crowne Plaza in Belfast in November to hear the winners of the Belfast Telegraph Property Awards 2019.

I was delighted to be part of the judging panel for these awards - along with a group of respected professionals and experts from industry and education - and was once again highly impressed by the quality, depth and breadth of the property expertise being demonstrated in Northern Ireland.

It highlights the skills of the professionals operating in the sector as well as the innovation and drive of its businesses.

Of particular interest to me were the developments in areas of residential and commercial practice, both on the ground and by the agencies promoting these developments.

Given the prolonged period of political stalemate and the well-rehearsed negative impacts on the economy, it is really encouraging to hear that innovative developments in the residential sector, in student accommodation and improvements in Grade A office provision are still being undertaken and snapped up hungrily by clients.

Entries in the Property Deal of the Year category and the size of the transactions described speaks volumes for the work of our commercial agents who continue to promote the advantages of investing in Northern Ireland.

Increasing use of BIM, 3-D modelling and off-site construction are all tools enhancing the ability to deliver projects to budget and on time, with the ultimate accolade of value for money.

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However, it is always the personal touch which 'seals the deal' and companies which continue to invest in and encourage their workforce to excel, are the ones who win the accolades.

With a tight labour market, investing in your people is arguably more important now than ever before.

Remarkably, the number of entries in this year's awards increased yet again.

The importance of the property sector to the economy cannot be underestimated and it is vital that we celebrate success where it is merited.

Attracting a skilled workforce and new entrants to the sector is essential to its continued success.

How better to do this than the promotion of excellence through awards competitions.

Also showcasing excellence in the built environment are the newly re-vamped RICS Social Impact Awards, the closing date for which is fast approaching on January 31.

These awards are all about showcasing projects which have transformed communities and lives and focus on innovation, collaboration and environmental and human impact.

These are across nine categories in areas that include commercial, education, healthcare, heritage, infrastructure, leisure and residential.

A different, but complementary, focus from the Belfast Telegraph Awards.

But again, this is essential. In the property and construction sectors, we should celebrate the commercial success and skills of our companies and professionals, but we should also keep a focus on their ultimate impact on the environment, communities and people.

We have an industry to be proud of and highlighting and celebrating its achievements across all of these areas showcase good practice and encourage continued improvement.

Belfast Telegraph