Skip to content

Meet Associate Quantity Surveyor and member of the AGORA Management team:

Director Introduction – Oostewald van niekerk | AGORA AFRICA

CHANEL FOS

Tell us about yourself and what motivates you:

I started my quantity surveying career whilst I was still studying at Tuks. I started out as a student working for a renowned company, registered as a professional quantity surveyor and joined the AGORA team.

In the construction industry I believe my biggest motivation is seeing a project progressing, from the first foundations cast to the handover of a masterpiece. You face numerous struggles during this time, but the reward is great at the end – and that is my motivation. Another aspect of the industry that is motivating to me, is seeing how the junior staff grow into senior staff, training them up to reach their full potential, and seeing how they too enjoy the success of a project.

Tell us about your journey and what you’ve experienced and learnt at AGORA:

When I joined AGORA I didn’t know much about anything other than Stage 5 and 6 in the construction industry, but AGORA his given me the opportunity to grow and learn as we go. I truly enjoy the pre-construction phases and can say I have definitely grown a lot in this area.

At AGORA we gain exposure to numerous types of projects, arraying from high-end private residential, to commercial residential, to offices, to hotels, and from new build to alterations. The consulting teams and processes for the different projects also differ vastly. I can truly say that the experience I have gained at AGORA is immeasurable.

What are your values as a leader and how would you go about cultivating these values within the team?

To me it is not a matter of training the staff to a point where they can do what I can do, but rather I motivate them to always want to do more than I can do, because once they challenge themselves, that is when true growth happens. They have this saying ‘you can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink’, and that is how I see it. Therefore, I cultivate a passion for what we do and this will automatically cause the person to grow and succeed in what they do.

What are your personal and professional goals?

Personally, well that’s a tough one, because the sky is the limit, and I have too many to mention all. Lately my focus has been on my musical talents, and am currently learning to play the piano for one. Secondly, I recently started studying for degree in psychology, so this is what I am focussed on after hours overall.

My professional goals are quite easy to identify, continuous professional development inside our company is an important one for me – making sure everyone is reaching their potential, and identifying weaknesses and turning them into strengths. Furthermore, building professional relationships is one of my goals, being able to connect with a client, to know what their expectations are, and exceed these expectations.

How important is company culture to you and what measures do you take to maintain your desired culture?

Overall I think this is important, because if your team is happy, their work quality is good. I have seen a few cases where a person is not motivated, then it is shown in their work quality and it effects the mood around that person. So, yes, cultivating a good company culture in my opinion is important. Our company culture has definitely shaped over the years that I have been at AGORA, we tend to make a lot of jokes in the office, people work together, help each other and motivate each other to grow, monthly breakfasts as a team are always a treat. 

What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?

Learn to compile ‘to-do’ lists from day one. Doing this from the start (even when studying) can help you achieve more than you think. You learn to prioritise, and manage what is important first – this will avoid future struggles in your work and, or missing deadlines.

What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?

Once you reach the point where you have the qualifications needed to register as a candidate with the SACQSP, do it, and pursue it. Too many young professionals are neglecting the registration process, when in fact it forces you, and your senior, to spend time on deliverables that should help you excel in your career. The sooner, the better.

What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this job?

Another one will be motivation, someone lacking motivation will struggle to succeed in the construction industry. As time goes by, people change, projects change, law changes, everything changes – you should be motivated to stay on top of these changes, and be motivated to take on the challenges faced with change.

A good attitude. The construction industry overall is a tough one, when you’ve been in it long enough you will know that having a good attitude, or good mindset is key. The projects are sometimes tough, and most of the time a project is pure business.

What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

I think for me, personally, it would be achieving the perfect work-life balance. A few years ago I was diagnosed with hypertension, and this was due to high levels of stress and limited sleep. After a discussion with the doctor I had to face the challenge of balancing my life, making time for work, family, hobbies, exercise and relaxing. I realised that the moment I made time to do all these things my health was better, my motivation was higher, and my focus at work increased. I therefore encourage people to find that balance in their lives.

What are the key resources that have helped you along the way?

Physically, it will be the technology available in the industry and being able to use this on our projects – it makes a big difference. And emotionally, I would say the people surrounding me and supporting me in life.

Furthermore, I can comment that the support we have within the AGORA is a blessing, from the student, all the way up to the director, each have an influence on how we achieve success on our projects.

What changes / improvements would you like to see in the industry and within the company?

For me it would be to see the consulting teams working together on projects, in the end we all should have the same goal in mind – having the client’s best interests at heart. Too many times I have seen consultants blame shifting instead of helping with solutions, this just prolongs the problems instead of solving it.

“A winner is someone who never gives up.”

Nelson Mandela
Director Introduction – Oostewald van niekerk | AGORA AFRICA