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BW Businessworld

Indian Realty Needs Expertise

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Sean Tompkins, CEO, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, was in India to launch a course in built environment. He spoke to Ankita Ramgopal

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has been in India for four years now. What have you learnt about our realty sector?
There was an education challenge; there was no course in the field of built environment (real estate, construction & infrastructure).  With the number of people living in cities now, a country like India needs people with professional skills and expertise. That’s where we see our foray into the education sector making a difference.

What are the hurdles you face in India?

The biggest challenge is changing mindsets. People aren’t used to the idea of a career in built environment. But, around the world, it is highly respected. Also, it is essential to build a pool of leaders who can manage resources and finances. You have a lot of history in India; there is a sensitivity needed to achieve development without tearing down the past. In winning cities around the world, there is a balance between the two.

How do you plan to overcome this barrier?
There are many parts of the world where you require a RICS qualification to work (in the realty sector). For an individual who wants to be globally mobile, this is a profession that will take him places. In India, there is a need to look ahead to what you require to build on in the realty sector. You need a whole generation of people trained in the profession. A great economic and social contribution can be made through this profession.

In realty, unprofessionalism is so ingrained it is almost acceptable. How do you see that changing?
Over a period of time, the realty market will start to separate into people who are professionally trained in the field and people who aren’t. And we will let the customers decide who will survive. 

Does the profession need entry-level barriers? If so, what should they be?
I think that the profession needs encouragement. And while it is important to put pressure on the industry, laws don’t always solve the problem. If you can encourage a profession that regulates itself, then you’ve done the right thing.

What other initiatives are you taking up?

We are continuing with the professional short courses for people who are already in the industry but who want to move to the next level. We are running conferences, short courses, executive training and, now, this degree. We’re expanding to all the areas of the built environment.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 15-07-2013)