30-year-old surveyor Michaela Bygrave contacted LionHeart after she had been working in residential valuation and development but found herself at a career crossroads. A few years after becoming chartered and completing her Master’s, she was not sure what her next career steps should be.
She says: “I had been to a few money management and wellbeing CPD workshops set up by LionHeart where they explained a bit more about the organisation. I remembered seeing somewhere that if you were unsure on your next career steps you could contact them. At that time, I was very unsure about whether to stay in my current role or whether to switch firms - or even switch professions altogether.”
She made an initial call to LionHeart and spoke to a support officer, but then decided she would benefit from taking some time out of the workplace to travel in Africa before assessing her options.
“I had no concrete plan,” she said. “When I arrived back in the UK about six months later I bumped into a surveyor who told me that if I set up as a company he had a bunch of clients he could send my way.”
Michaela’s interests lay in ethical development and she really wanted to make a positive difference to the communities in which she worked. She’d always been interested in setting up her own business, and so the idea of Pointe Michel, a socially responsible real estate consultancy, was born.
As she began to get her fledgling business off the ground, she contacted LionHeart for further support.
She explained: “I was having some issues getting the paperwork sorted quickly enough with the RICS, and my LionHeart support officer Ben Halpin was able to speak directly to the RICS and keep me updated on what was happening with my application.
“Once I started trading I had some questions around legal issues, and Ben was able to refer me to legal representatives who could answer these questions.
“I then realised I had to improve my sales and marketing skills to help me win new business and Ben provided me with coaching to help my business skills.”
Michaela said she found the regular contact really useful at a time when she was setting out on her own and navigating new territory.
She added: “What surprised me most about LionHeart was the range of advice available to me. I was able to tap into legal advice, had help with sales training, business and personal coaching. I hadn’t been expecting to receive so much of Ben’s time as I wasn’t technically ‘in crisis’, but just needed advice and someone to talk through problems with.
“The support has been invaluable for me. Ben was understanding and personable and I enjoyed talking to him.
“I’d definitely recommend any other surveyors in a similar position to me to pick up the phone to LionHeart. To borrow from Nike: just do it! You won’t know what they can offer until you call.
“At no point did I receive any judgement about my career decisions. Also, the service was completely confidential which I know is important to many surveyors as we are in a very close-knit industry.”
Michaela’s now concentrating on growing her Watford-based business and building on the success of the first year.