Rhian Howells Case Study

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

  • surveyor in field in Wales
  • surveyor in field in Wales

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!”

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group