An interview with Ryan O'Malley, Assistant Quantity Surveyor for Trebes

An interview with Ryan O'Malley, Assistant Quantity Surveyor for Trebes

Please introduce yourself including your background, role and company

I’m Ryan and I started working in the industry just over a year ago. I am an Assistant Quantity Surveyor for Trebes, a consultancy based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Previously I studied a BSc in Business and Economics before completing an MSc in Quantity Surveying. 

How many NEC procured projects have you worked on?

I have predominantly worked on an NEC3 TSC for a utilities contractor for the last 16 months. I also have experience using other contracts within the NEC suite of contracts. 

What does a typical day look like to you?

I currently support mostly with the application for payment however I also assist in submitting and managing early warnings/ compensation events for various clients when required. 

At what point in your career did you (or your organisation) decide to take the NEC accreditation course?

I was put forward by my organisation for the NEC PMA shortly after I started my role as an AQS for Trebes. I found it very beneficial to partake in the course as it gave me the contextual knowledge prior to regularly using NEC contracts on live projects. 

What was one takeaway from the course that you are using every day?

I found the course to be hugely informative and it has significantly improved competence in managing an NEC contract, whilst also opening up the opportunity to move into a project management role in the future. 

How did you prepare for the assessment?

How did you approach taking the assessment the first time around? Why?

The first time around I admittedly did not look enough at the practice questions before starting part 1, which I feel significantly improved my confidence the second time around. Additionally I probably started the assessment a little prematurely and should have looked more at my notes before starting the test. 

What changes have you made for your resit – what did you do differently? 

For my second attempt I continuously attempted and retried the practice questions until I scored 100%. This gave more of an insight into the actual exam and familiarised myself with the questions / question formats. 

I scored 78% on my second attempt after focussing my revision for each section of the exam and focussing more on the quality of each answer/ double checking rather than attempting to rush the entire paper. 

How did you find the accreditation compared to other professional qualifications?

I did the in person course and found it to be hugely informative and it was a great opportunity to engage with other professionals in the industry throughout the week. 

What would be your advice to others thinking of taking the accreditation and the assessment?

The MCQ answers are often very subtle and should be checked thoroughly to ensure you have made the right choice. Often clauses must be compared word for word against the answer options to ensure you have selected the correct one. This will become clear during the practice questions so there aren’t any surprises during the actual exam. 

I would definitely recommend utilising the practice questions and redoing them until you score 100%. The questions can only be accessed before you start part 1 therefore ensure this is the first thing you do.

I found the first time, in an attempt to answer every question, I rushed through the exam when actually, given the pass mark is 60%, ensuring answers are double checked and answered correctly is much more important than answering every question. In theory, you could only answer 60% of the exam and pass. 

The exam is also split into two parts which made it much easier for revision prior to the exam. Ensure you leave a reasonable amount of time between taking each part and focus your revision to reflect each part.

Find out more about the PMA course here.

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