“I love getting out and about and never wanted to be stuck in an office all day. It’s a very varied workload – no two days are the same”
Alison was brought up on a beef and sheep farm in Peeblesshire and graduated with an Honours Degree in Property Management and Valuation in 2010. Since leaving university Alison has previously been involved in Estate Management and passed her Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) to become a Chartered Rural Surveyor in May 2014.
Alison joined D&R in August 2015 and works on estate management, utilities and sales – with a special interest in landlord/tenant issues.
She gained Fellowship of the CAAV in November 2017 and was runner up for the Talbot Posonby Prize for highest points in the UK exams. Alison was also the highest score in Scotland gaining her the 2017 SAAVA President’s Cup. This trophy has been won by 4 members of the D&R team – all went on to become directors. (SAAVA cup introduced in 2012 by Martin Hall, D&R Managing Director when he was President of SAAVA to mark the CAAV exams being introduced in Scotland during 2011
Alison said “Although exams for FAAV accreditation have only been held in Scotland since 2012, its reputation is growing rapidly. I’m very pleased to be able to use it. In this line of work, you need to know a lot about a lot, which makes it a very exciting and interesting career.”
SAAVA Presidents Cup winners from D&R:
- 2012 – Chris Edmunds – Director
- 2013 – Ian Austin – Director
- 2014 – Derek Bathgate – Director
- 2015 – George Hipwell – Director
- 2017 – Alison Aitken (presented 2018) – Senior Surveyor and Branch Manager
Thoughts on women in agricuture
“I attended the Women in Agriculture breakfast seminar at the start of the RH Show. The marquee was packed and there was a real buzz. I totally agree with what Minette Batters said – “the success of women in agriculture comes when being a woman in the job isn’t newsworthy.”
It is good to have a platform so we can demonstrate we have skills and ambitions and can do the job equally as well as men. It should be about capability rather than gender, and one day the headline won’t be about being women in the top jobs.”
A woman in a man’s world – have you come across prejudice?
“When starting out as an Assistant Surveyor visiting farms with my boss, I sometimes found farmers would expect me to make the tea rather than be really involved in the work. But I have found that traditional farming prejudices do unravel when you start working with farmers and they can see what you are capable of.
Basically, the more clients get to know you, the more they realise you can do the job just as well as a man.
It’s not about brute strength, it’s about being innovative, in the know and at the top of your game – that’s not a gender issue.”
“When I got my first graduate job seven years ago things were a different, and when I was newly qualified (4.5 years ago) I noticed a lot of females in surveying firms held admin roles. Times are changing – a lot more graduate Surveyors are now women. We can see that coming through at Davidson & Robertson too. Of the most recent graduate intake, three out of the four are female.”
SAAVA Training Day – supporting the next generation
“I was recently invited to attend a SAAVA training day which focussed on past success. My colleague Sam Sykes and I went along to give hints and tips on working towards the exams. The room was predominantly filled with women – and they had come from right across Scotland. It’s good to see the balance is being addressed, with more women coming through and that becoming more of a norm.”
Employ for the role not the gender
I really believe that people should be employed for the qualifications and skills they have, not as an exercise in gender equality – and there is a growing pool of very capable surveyors.”
Promotion to branch manager
September 2018 Alison Aitken was promoted to Branch Manager of the Lanark Office.
“I’m not unusual at D&R – we already have Rhona Booth who has been Branch Manager at our Forfar Office for six years.
D&R is a progressive company, encouraging staff to learn and develop and they promote from within where possible. Branch manager is a new challenge – but now I’ve completed my studies, it’s a new opportunity and new responsibility so I look forward to the challenge. But it doesn’t mean I am stuck in an office – I love variety and getting out to see clients.”
Where are your ambitions
I’m new to the role of Branch Manager, so I’m looking forward at the potential to grow the office and keep growing my own skills.
We’ve a great team and there’s lots of energy and skill right across the company we can tap into.
The market place is changing – we are looking at a lot more diversifications, more work with renewable energy and forestry. Traditional landlord/tenant relationships are changing too and is an area that I enjoy.
Brexit and its effects are certainly going to be a hot topic for the next few years – but it’s still a bit wait and see. Regardless of the final form Brexit takes, businesses that are proactive and fully understand their asset base, income and costs, will be best placed to succeed. At D&R we’re encouraging our clients to be proactive, supporting them with strategic planning to help turn Brexit’s uncertainty into a positive direction for the future.
Those who are clearest about where they are now and their potential opportunities are best placed to handle whatever the outcome.