Rhian Howells Case Study

Switching from law to surveying fulfilled Rhian's ambition to work more closely with the countryside

Becoming a chartered surveyor offers an exciting and diverse career path with great opportunities working in an array of property from city office blocks to sports stadia, and land estates to shopping centres. Not everyone takes a direct route into chartered surveying - many people embark upon a different career path and find that it’s not for them. It’s never too late to change though, as Rhian Howells, Surveyor with Cooke & Arkwright’s Land Agency team discovered.

Rhian gained a degree in geography at the University of Oxford and went on to study law at Oxford Brooks University and BPP Law School in Holborn. She then became a trainee solicitor in London, qualifying into the commercial property department at international law firm Taylor Wessing. Rhian takes up the story:

“Over time I found that I was drawn to the commercial aspects and wanted more direct contact with the properties and tenants themselves. Moreover, having previously worked for Gower AONB in Swansea as Projects Officer, the thought of working in land management in Wales was beginning to take shape. I researched the fields open to me in property and land management and came across the rural surveyor pathway.

“I took advice from surveyors within the profession and decided to commit to a one-year Master’s degree in Rural Land and Business Management at Reading University, a course which prepared me to ‘hit the ground running’. The qualifications I gained opened the door into land and property and I applied for a job with Cooke & Arkwright’s Land Agency team in 2015. I was delighted to be offered the position, which enabled me to fulfil my twin aspirations to work more closely with the countryside and return home to my native Wales.

“Now my responsibilities include day-to-day management of estate property and assets; landlord & tenant work; acquisitions and disposals of farms, land and development sites across the region; property valuations on behalf of banks, utility companies, charities and private clients; and advisory work including consultancy on investment and management projects, planning advice and advice on compensation claims and CPOs. Clients include landowners, farmers, banks, trusts, national companies and government organisations. I also act for The Crown Estate in the management of its marine portfolio in Wales, which takes me to some beautiful parts of the Welsh coast.

“Working with Cooke & Arkwright is a fantastic opportunity and I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to make the change. People in the firm are very professional and passionate about what they do, and I have learnt a great deal already. They are very supportive of graduates and give lots of help to people on the path to become chartered surveyors. Plus my legal background has many applications within my new career, so I’m also putting my previous experience and training to good use. I’d encourage anyone, if they are not sure about making a change, or taking this path, to go ahead and do it!”

I have worked with Jeremy Symons over the past three years successfully leasing and buying property in support of my business. I continue to be very pleased with his knowledge of the market and expertise. Our relationship over this time has resulted in acquiring 20,000 sq ft at Capital Business Park in Cardiff, leasing 11,000 sq ft at Southpoint, and subsequently leasing an initial 42,000 sq ft at Parc Bedwas, followed by a succession of expansions of a further 11,000 and then 47,000 sq ft, enabling us to centralise all of our operations at Parc Bedwas in a single 100,000 sq ft facility. The acquisitions were completed at the perfect time for tenant purposes and the rent fixed throughout the term at very economical rates. A job well done.

Bob James, Aerfin