‘Educators appreciate how construction professions work as a team’

Mark Tree MCIOB
Mark Tree MCIOB

In the first of a series of interviews with CIOB academic members, Mark Tree from Anglia Ruskin University talks about the mutually beneficial relationship between academia and industry.

What are you working on at present?

Within the school there is quite a lot of research going on regarding earthquake and general disaster resilience. One of the projects is on an international scale so is quite exciting. Obviously, given the global environmental position, these are of fundamental importance.

Other projects are underway within the school regarding the implementation of modern methods of construction and also innovative drainage solutions.

Why is it important to the construction industry now?

Any way in which the construction industry can lead the way towards achieving net zero and become generally more sustainable is obviously of vital importance. We also need to become much more efficient and also innovative in the way in which we further develop and construct the built environment.

Tell us about your journey from industry to academia?

I enjoyed a fantastic training and education experience with a local contracting organisation in
East Anglia. They really looked after their trainees, provided broad opportunities for experience and also education to get to chartered builder status.

Mark Tree MCIOB CV

Apr 2023 to present – Interim head, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Anglia Ruskin University
Nov 2018 to present – Deputy head, School of Engineering and the Built Environment,
Sep 2008-Nov 2018 – Pathway leader (quantity surveying)

My career was developing well and I had no intention of moving away from contracting but sadly the economy had other ideas! This resulted in me becoming involved in teaching on a part-time hourly paid basis at an FE college.

Ultimately I moved to another college and eventually was managing the technician and professional construction area and delivering a wide range of courses for several construction organisations. I was invited to apply for a job at ARU which resulted in taking over course leadership of the BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying and gradually led me to my current position.

My role as head of school provides an excellent opportunity to make sure our students get the best possible educational experience that provides them with the foundation for a rewarding career in the built environment.

It also affords me the opportunity to work with professional bodies and employer organisations to ensure that these educational foundations are built on an understanding of what industry requires from graduates coming into the various professions.

Construction is such a rewarding and fulfilling industry that deserves the best possible people entering it. Those entering it also deserve the best possible start.

Is there a role industry professionals can play in preparing the next pipeline or talent? 

So often our industry receives bad press, so the best thing that industry professionals can do is to provide the best possible role models and opportunities for the next generation of talent. Let’s shout about the good things that we do. Let’s provide role models that people wish to aspire to replicate.

What advice would you give to a built environment professional who wants to explore the opportunities available in education alongside their work?

Give it a go – it isn’t as scary as you think. There is nothing more rewarding than feeding into the lives of the next generation. The more we spend time with those entering the industry the more we will understand their goals and aspirations and be pleasantly surprised at what they have to add to our industry.

How important is it to bring industry experience to the classroom? 

Absolutely vital! Theoretical knowledge is one thing but the ability to apply this in a practical way and allow students to see the application of the things they are learning can be so motivating for them and also rewarding for industry professionals who take time to give back.

How do you think becoming an educator has helped you in your career?

It has helped me appreciate how the various professions come together and work together as a team within the built environment disciplines.

It is possible to sit in your silo and not be aware of all the work that others are contributing to construction projects and the industry in general.

Mark Tree MCIOB presents a certificate to 2022 ARU graduate Rhys Collings

I think the move into education has enabled me to appreciate the bigger picture and generally become more appreciative of the various personality types and disciplines that exist and support each other.

What one thing would you change to make careers in construction more appealing?

I would love it if generally people were more aware of the breadth of careers and disciplines that are available within the construction industry as a whole.

People seem to be aware of the headline jobs and disciplines but very few people seem to appreciate the full spectrum of opportunities that exist. I think if people were aware of this there would be a lot more takers for careers in construction.

Do you have a motto that applies to your work and, if so, what is it?

If anything is worth doing, then it is worth doing well and to the best of my ability.

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