“Why you should never stop learning” by John Read

John joined Daniel Connal Partnership as a fresh-faced geography graduate back in 2003 and in December 2019 was made a Partner. John wrote a piece in the latest issue of RICS Built Environment Journal (BEJ) talking about his career progression and why you should never stop learning. With the kind permission of the BEJ we’ve reproduced the article here.

Why you should never stop learning

In a profession that is constantly evolving… we need to adapt to be successful. I joined the multidisciplinary consultancy Daniel Connal Partnership in 2003 having graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a BSc in geography.

After 14 years of school and 3 at university, most people would be sick of textbooks, studying and exams, but the opposite was true for me. I was primed for learning – eager to discover more about my chosen career, and keen to immerse myself in this new challenge.

The desire to stretch myself and expand my knowledge base has stayed with me throughout my career, and I believe this ability to keep learning is key to the success of any person in any line of work – particularly one that changes and develops as rapidly as the built environment. I spent my first 3 years at Daniel Connal studying on day release for a postgraduate diploma in building surveying at what was then Anglia Polytechnic, now Anglia Ruskin University. I passed the course with a distinction. I subsequently became a chartered surveyor in 2010. In 2015 I was made an associate at Daniel Connal, and in December 2019, I became a partner.

I am also a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and an incorporated member of the Association for Project Safety. Peer support I learnt a huge amount from my peers, benefiting enormously from having an experienced group of professionals in one office, led by senior partner Robert Dale; my colleagues have always been willing to offer support and advice. I was also fortunate to join the practice at the same time as Peter Worman, a highly experienced chartered building surveyor under whom I worked for seven years, learning so much from him.

My positive learning experiences have made me very keen to pass on my own knowledge to the next generation. I am proud to say I am now an APC assessor and oversee the APC training process for the whole company. Something that I am particularly keen to instil in every person I mentor is that they should love what they do. It makes hard work much easier.

“I learnt a huge amount from my peers, benefiting enormously from having an experienced group of professionals in one office”

Highlights and heritage

 Just because I enjoy my job, does not mean my career path hasn’t been peppered with challenges, though in every job there are highs and lows. My highlights include working with packaging supplier M&H Plastics for 17 years on projects including extensions, conversions, alterations, planning and risk assessments. I’ve enjoyed working, too, with Spectra Packaging, where I oversaw the design of an industrial complex on a greenfield site through the initial phase of 4 industrial units and subsequent expansion. I also spent some time working in London for the partnership on surveys associated with the Crossrail project.

One of the most interesting buildings I have worked on has been Overstrand Hall, a grade II listed manor house in Norfolk originally designed by Edwin Lutyens in the 19th century, where I led the survey, design and contract administration on a repair project.

Over the years, the house has been a weekend retreat, military hospital and convalescent home, and it is now a residential outward-bound activity centre. Initially appointed to carry out a survey of the complex roof structure, the partnership subsequently acted as contract administrator for the necessary repairs – all while the centre remained operational.

As a project it presented its challenges, but working on a Lutyens building is definitely a career high. I’m also involved with another historic property, the grade II listed Carrow Hill House in Norwich. This is a major refurbishment and conversion project, for which Daniel Connal is providing architectural design, planning, contract administration and project management. We used video conferencing to hold regular design team meetings to ensure the project did not stagnate and have now successfully gone out to tender with bids currently being analysed with the aim of starting works in 2021.

Testing times

Turning to the lows, I had been a building surveyor at the partnership for five years when the 2008 financial crisis hit. It was a hugely testing time, and much of our bread-and-butter surveying work came to a halt. The private housing sector saw a severe decline during the subsequent recession. House price uncertainties and stricter mortgage lending dampened demand and, consequently, building survey enquiries were rare. The industrial and commercial sectors also performed poorly, with ongoing lending constraints and the lacklustre exports leading to manufacturers scaling back investment in new facilities.

Daniel Connal has always looked to offer services across a range of sectors to avoid putting all our eggs in one basket. During the recession, therefore, we still had local authority clients who needed our services and some long-established manufacturing clients who, even during difficult times, were looking to adapt and expand their facilities. Nevertheless, the recession had a significant impact on construction professionals, which resulted in the partnership downsizing and streamlining while retaining core staff. We weathered the financial crash, and since then have expanded and broadened our range of services.

Progressing during the pandemic COVID-19 has pushed everyone into unknown territory again. Projects are on hold, construction sites shut, residential moves halted – a nightmare scenario. But the partnership has withstood the initial lockdown, which saw many contractors shut their sites and furlough staff as they put secure working arrangements in place. Enquiries from clients wanting to discuss the contractual implications of lockdown for their project and the force majeure clause in their JCT contract have peaked, at least for now. Building surveys were tricky for a short time, but we adopted appropriate risk management procedures to ensure that we could continue to serve our clients, and at the moment we are busy and optimistic.

Without computers and mobile phones, the internet and teleconferencing facilities, our ability to continue business would have been severely compromised. It’s hard to believe now, but when I started at the Norwich office in 2003 it was still using a dial-up internet connection. Back then information was much harder to come by: we had a product library cupboard and were filling out JCT contracts by hand. Today’s technology means we can set up office anywhere. We may be in the midst of a pandemic that will have far-reaching consequences across all sectors, but we have overcome challenges before.

We all have an incredible ability to adapt and to evolve – and part of that involves continuing to learn, develop and move forwards.

John Read is a partner at Daniel Connal Partnership working in our Norwich office

With thanks to the editor of Built Environment Journal for permission to reproduce this article on our website. For the latest updates from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and its journals for RICS members, visit: www.rics.org





“ I enjoy the buzz of helping clients unlock asset value in property through innovative design and refurbishment solutions”

I joined the Daniel Connal Partnership in 1994, became a Partner in 1997 and Joint Senior Partner in 2011.  My time is split between fee earning work, the management of the business and business development.

I am a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Project Management Surveyor and an Incorporated Member of the Association of Project Safety.

My areas of expertise are Project Management, Dilapidations, Party Wall Advice and Defect Diagnosis.  I also act as an Expert Witness and am a member of the Academy of Experts.

Outside of work I am a keen sailor and have recently given in to the middle aged man’s craze of cycling around in tight lycra.  I am also a frustrated Ipswich Town Supporter.

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“I love the teamwork in delivering a project, but relish the knowledge that our singular input is making a real difference.”

I have been joint Senior Partner of Daniel Connal Partnership since 2011, having joined the practice in 1995 and been made Partner in 1999.

As a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Chartered Building Surveyor, Incorporated Member of the Association of Project Safety and experienced project manager, I enjoy helping our clients deliver their ideas for their property through successful building projects.  It is my aim that our staff enjoy their work and that we always provide the best service we can.

When I am not working I enjoy being active and spending time with my family and friends.

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Jonathan Dennis MA, MRICS

“As an experienced Quantity Surveyor I strive to ensure that all of our clients achieve the best possible value for money when undertaking construction works.”

I joined Daniel Connal Partnership in 2011 as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, was made an associate at the start of 2015 and Partner in January 2016.

I have wide ranging experience in sectors across the industry, including Urban Regeneration, Social Housing, Industrial and Manufacture, Education, Defence, Local Authority and Health and have recently enjoyed developing my knowledge of the conservation of buildings with Listed and Ancient Monument status.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am a keen cyclist and also enjoy a leisurely walk around the golf course.

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Andrew Long, MEng, MSc, MRICS

“As a surveyor I delight in the opportunity and knowledge that we have a direct impact on shaping the future, bringing buildings back into service and the prospect of leaving a lasting but sustainable impression on the earth.”

I became an Associate in 2011 having joined the practice in 2010.

As a Chartered Building Surveyor, with areas of expertise in Design, Contract Administration, Project Management, Defects Diagnosis, Building Surveys and Dilapidations, I endeavour to provide our clients with the best service to enhance, preserve and obtain the maximum returns on their diverse property portfolios and building projects.

Outside of work I am in demand from my young family and friends in various active pursuits.

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Jonathan Rensink, Tech.IOSH, AIIRSM, IMaPS

“By working hard and supporting others, you won’t be far off the quote that I take great inspiration from. “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”. Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

I joined DCP in 1999 and was made an Associate in 2013.

A NEBOSH qualified Health and Safety Consultant; my areas of expertise are Health & Safety, CDM 2015 and the provision of Fire Safety and Risk Management advice.

Outside of work I enjoy walking, badminton and football, taking a keen interest in my local football club, Wivenhoe Town.

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Jason Froude BSc (Hons) MRICS

“As an experienced Chartered Surveyor, my number one aim is to deliver success in terms of my Client’s expectations”

Having joined the Daniel Connal Partnership in 2002, I was made an Associate in 2013 and became a Partner in the London office in 2018. I am a Chartered Building Surveyor, with over 15 years experience and a wide ranging skill base over many industry sectors specialising in Project Management, Party Wall, Building Surveys and CDM Advice.

I am a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Association of Project Safety.

Lucky enough to have the Surrey Hills on my door step, I am a keen rambler, cycling enthusiast and lawn bowler for my local Lawn Bowls team. For my sins I am also a Crystal Palace Supporter.

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John Read




“It gives me great pride to take projects from inception to completion whilst working closely with the clients to meet their design and cost expectations through construction knowledge, design acumen and property expertise”

I joined Daniel Connal Partnership in 2003 as a trainee Building Surveyor with a BSc in Geography and then undertook a post graduate conversion course at Anglia Ruskin University. I became a Chartered Building Surveyor in 2010, was made an Associate of the Practice at the start of 2015 and became a Partner in 2019.

I am a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Association of Project Safety and the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.

I have a wide ranging skill base over many industry sectors specialising in Design, Contract Administration, Party Wall and CDM Co-ordination.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am a keen cricketer and partake in weekly five a side football. I am fortunate to live in the Norfolk countryside and enjoy the benefits of long country walks and sunny days at the beach.

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“I look to use my varied career experience to the benefit of each client and to produce the best outcome on every project”

I was appointed Associate at the Colchester Office in January 2016 having joined the Practice in January 2015.

I am both a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Chartered Construction Manager and have over 30 years’ experience working in both private practice and for contractors. I also have familiarity with the client’s perspective having overseen redevelopment of the buildings at my Church.

My varied experience & knowledge enables me to provide a balanced view on projects for the benefit of all parties involved in the construction process.

I am a Deacon & Trustee of my Baptist Church in Ipswich; enjoy theatre, visiting National Trust Properties and a game or two of tennis in the summer months.

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Chris Talford BSC (HONS) MRICS

“I enjoy assisting our varied client base in developing projects right from the initial idea through to a fully finished building, I take great satisfaction in helping clients understand and develop their knowledge of construction along the way.”

I joined Daniel Connal Partnership as a Senior Quantity Surveyor in 2013 and was made an Associate in 2019.

I have experience across a wide range of sectors including Education, Industrial, Healthcare, Residential and Commercial and have gained valuable knowledge from a very varied workload.

I am a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Outside of work I enjoy playing golf and attempting to persuade my two young sons to support Sheffield United.

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Daniel Moles BSc (Hons) MRICS

“As an experienced Chartered Building Surveyor my key aim is always to act with my client’s best interests in mind, delivering high quality building surveying services to them at all times.”

I initially joined Daniel Connal Partnership as a graduate building surveyor in 2006. Promotion to Senior Building Surveyor followed and in 2015 I was made an Associate of the practice.

I am a Chartered Building Surveyor and have extensive experience in building surveying, party wall matters, feasibility studies and listed buildings across a wide range of industry sectors.

I am a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

When not out surveying buildings I am kept very busy chasing after two energetic young sons.

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Alastair Clark BSc (Hons) MRICS

“It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to be involved with projects, especially seeing a completed building knowing that I have added value by taking a proactive approach to cost and risk management through all the stages of design and construction.”

I joined Daniel Connal Partnership as a Senior Quantity Surveyor in 2005.

Progressing to Associate in 2007, I was made Partner in charge of the Colchester office in 2011, with additional responsibility for Ball Hall (Project Management) Ltd (BHPM) from April 2012, when DCP took over their long time sports hall project management partner.

In January 2017 I became the Managing Director of Ball Hall (Project Management) Ltd.

When not flying the BHPM flag, I enjoy the occasional hack around a golf course or game of football. I am also, for my sins, a life-long supporter of West Ham.

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“I see surveying in its various forms as the means of providing one’s own expertise for the benefit of clients….. and satisfied clients make satisfied surveyors”

I joined what was then Daniel B Connal & Partners in 1964 straight from School and retired as Senior Partner of the Daniel Connal Partnership in 2010. I remain actively supporting DCP with its services, particularly those for Ball Hall Projects, whilst acting regularly as a Mediator, Adjudicator, Arbitrator and Expert Witness in my own right.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

My areas of expertise are Quantity Surveying, Project Management, Contract Administration and Dispute Resolution.

When not in the office, family life happily occupies a lot of my time, and I escape to the golf course or fish for trout when time permits. I am also a Trustee of Headway Essex.

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