Learning journey from placement to project lead


To help celebrate national Learning at Work (LAW) week, George Tilbury shares his journey from his university placement in the building surveying team to leading one of Bruntwood Works’ most ambitious workspace transformations. 

George Tilbury, Building Surveyor at Bruntwood Works

I started my journey with Bruntwood six years ago when I undertook a ‘year in industry’ as part of my degree. After some coaxing from my university lecturer Martin Turley, who also used to work for Bruntwood many years ago, I went for an interview and was offered the placement. This was the start of my property career and it sounds like a cliche but it’s been a constant learning journey throughout my time at Bruntwood. Every day I learn about property, construction, technology, ways of working and building relationships.

Bruntwood has always placed huge value on training the next generation, including through a well-developed placement scheme. As placement students, we received mentoring from peers who had recently completed a placement themselves, and they were able to provide a great support network for advice and shared experience. We were never treated as placement employees, we were given the opportunity to work as if we were graduates, just with that little extra help.

After placement during my final year of university, I continued working a few days a week at Bruntwood. This allowed me to continue gaining that practical experience and stood me in great stead when I returned full time after graduation.

The next part of my formal education journey was completing the RICS APC qualification to become a chartered surveyor. Again, Bruntwood has a good setup for supporting the team through the qualification with extensive mentoring and an excellent pass rate.

One of the things that has always stood out for me at Bruntwood is the focus on lifelong learning and the faith they put in people to constantly try out new areas and ideas. This is supplemented by a focus on developing ‘all round’ skills. As a building surveyor, I also act as project manager and often need to jump into areas like administration, certifying work and liaising with finance to support the project. We also have a great supply chain who are always ready and willing to provide as much advice as they can.

A lot has changed in commercial office space in six years. There’s been a huge shift from corporate, almost clinical, spaces that lacked personality to a hunger for spaces that encourage collaboration and support wellbeing. The last two years have been focussed on Bruntwood Works’ Pioneer project which aims to reinvest in key buildings to transform them into the workspaces of the future. It wraps up all of the businesses key focusses including sustainability, wellness and creating a hospitality-led arrival experience and combines it with epic design that’s tailored to the space.

I’ve been project managing the delivery of 111 Piccadilly in Manchester city centre, Bruntwood Works’ second Pioneer space that’s due for completion this summer. It’s a building of firsts for us. It will hopefully be our first Platinum WELL accredited space and the first coworking space in the UK to hold this accolade. We’re also installing a 200ft external lighting scheme powered by advanced sustainable energy that will transform the building facade. It’s been incredible to work on these aspects and discover more about them as we go.

Delivering space that focuses on wellbeing has been popular for a number of years but this is often retrofitted rather than built into the very fabric of the design. The WELL accreditation provides a framework for making sure this is incorporated into every aspect of design from the lighting to the way sound can travel through the space. I’ve been able to lead on this project and take my learnings back to the business to be replicated in other spaces.

The business wanted to also transform the outside of the building into a beacon for the city. We looked to cities like Tokyo and Dubai with the amazing light installations that they have and thought Manchester could do something similar. 111 Piccadilly sits on Piccadilly approach near to the train station so it’s one of the first things many people see when they arrive into the city. We wanted to install a lighting scheme that was impactful and sustainable and would be able to change and adapt with the city. This is the first time anything like this has been attempted in Manchester, and by Bruntwood, so it’s definitely been a huge learning process and I’m privileged to have been involved.

I have been very fortunate with the learning and guidance I have received from Bruntwood but I’ve also had to work hard to gain my qualifications. Learning on the job has helped me to gain experience and put the skills I’ve developed into practice. Martin still checks in every so often too, which is amazing. I think it’s really important to seek out as many learning opportunities as possible, whether that be from your colleagues or from formal training - never stop learning because life never stops teaching!

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