Lauren Holland is a Land Surveyor for Murphy Surveys, based in Central London.
How did your career in surveying begin?
I’ve always loved the outdoors and Geography was my favourite subject at school. I decided to follow my instincts and go to Aberystwyth University to study Geography. While I was there I developed an interest for 3D modelling. However towards the end of my degree, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. I booked an appointment with the university’s careers advisor for some help and advice. She asked me a lot of questions about what I liked doing, which mainly involved being outside and 3D modelling. She suggested that I look into surveying as a career option. At this point I had never actually heard of surveying, so I did some research and contacted a survey company in London. I did a week of work experience with them and I loved every single day. Once it was over, they offered me a job and my passion for 3D modelling and surveying has grown from there.
In a typical week what sort of work are you doing?
I work in our monitoring department, where I support our clients to understand the structural movement and environmental impact of buildings, bridges and tunnels. This involves spending most days on construction sites, using instruments such as a total station TM50; this is a monitoring survey instrument that sits on a tripod and measures the difference in vertical and horizonal angles and slop distances, or, using sensors, the level of dust or noise on site. This is a critical part of the construction (and demolition) process. It means I enable our clients to minimise the risk to those working in and around the site as well as safeguarding the public. The rest of my day is spent in the office processing the data and producing reports for our clients. It is really exciting for me to be part of this specialist department and it means I can become an expert in my field of work.
I am also lucky enough to be supported by my company in becoming a STEM ambassador, which involves visiting schools and promoting the surveying industry to the next generation, and also being a female role model to the students. I’m becoming more active in the geospatial industry in general, working towards my membership of the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors and attending networking events, where I can meet and talk to clients and fellow surveyors.
Can you give some examples of memorable projects you’ve worked on?
Being based in Central London I’ve been privileged to work on some amazing projects in heritage, property and infrastructure. Recently I scanned Churchill’s Old War office in Whitehall. It was amazing walking in his footsteps. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, scanning every centimetre of where he masterminded his Second World War manoeuvres. The building had 1,100 rooms and two miles of corridors. I’ve also worked on a structural monitoring project that excavated Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, which dates back to 1577. This was where Romeo and Juliet was first performed!
What part of your job do you most enjoy?
I love being outside, seeing London change every day and working outside usually involves being in a team. At Murphy Surveys, it is one big community, so it is like spending the day with friends. Working outdoors comes with challenges, such as weather and especially obstructions on construction sites. But I love that it keeps your brain constantly active and overcoming the challenges really does give you a daily sense of achievement.
What advice would you give your younger self on whether to choose a career in surveying?
I would say go for it, full speed ahead! If you listen to your heart and keep doing what you enjoy everything will fall into place. And I would tell my younger self that you can really do anything if you put your whole mind to it!