In the second edition of our ‘Employee Spotlight’ series, we meet Sukhdip Somal, Associate Director of Land Referencing here at Ardent. Get to know Sukhi, his journey through land referencing and what it means to be a member of the Ardent team.

Q1. What do you do at Ardent?

I am an Associate Director in Ardent’s Land Referencing Directorate leading the Land Referencing team in London and the South-East. Land Referencing, although a crucial part of compulsory purchase schemes, is still a niche industry, where many do not recognise the processes/work involved. For this reason, a big part of my role is to provide advice on the end-to-end processes associated with Land Referencing to clients and wider project teams throughout projects to highlight the benefits.

Q2. What are your credentials/past experience, for working in your position?

I happened to accidentally fall into Land Referencing 8 years ago. I applied for a role as a GIS Technician at TerraQuest Solutions (something I had enjoyed while studying BSc Geography at university). After starting, I discovered the role was in fact for a Land Referencer, something I had not come across previously (along with the majority of the population), hence why it was advertised as a GIS role! Studying GIS at university has helped over the years, as I understand the work involved in the spatial data and plan production, which is a key component/deliverable within the Land Referencing scope.

Through the years, while working on a variety of projects, I have been involved in the various tasks associated with Land Referencing such as desktop referencing, the production and processing of Land Interest Questionnaires, site visits, the production of CPO Schedules and Books of Reference, in addition to notice serving. Outside of Land Referencing, I have spent my whole life playing football, which like the work involved in Land Referencing, is a team game, understanding people’s strengths and getting the best out of them.

Q3. What do you like about working at Ardent?

The culture at Ardent is great! When I joined, everyone was extremely welcoming and helpful.

Our team is highly skilled and knowledgeable and is always happy to help and share knowledge when working together whilst delivering projects. Ardent have given me the freedom and responsibility to manage my own projects and build as an individual. They also allow me to express my opinions and are willing to listen to advice across all levels and Directorates of the company.

Q4. How has your career grown since joining Ardent?

I joined Ardent’s Birmingham office and helped build a team that has developed exceptionally well. I immediately took on the project management responsibilities of HS2 Midland Mainline, M42 J6 and the Watford Business Park. Each project was unique and came with its own complexities, being exposed to this early in my role allowed me to gain vital knowledge and experience that has provided me with a solid foundation to develop my skillsets. Ardent has a strong culture in providing opportunities and developing its people and I believe my development is a good example of that. My main aim is to continue this culture and develop my team.

Q5. What does a day in the life of an Associate Director look like?

Every day is a different day and that is one of the things I love about the job. From managing projects, budgets, working with great clients and teams and networking. As mentioned previously, Land Referencing is still a niche industry, therefore getting out there and explaining what we do and how we can help is one of the things I most enjoy about the role. Furthermore, working closely with the team, being approachable and advising on queries where needed, focussing on their development is fundamental.

Q6. What is something in your industry that you deal with and want to fix?

Businesses exist to solve a problem and Ardent’s aim is to support clients by working on projects from inception to completion, where our experts will manage the project every step of the way. We understand our client’s pain points that can result from disjointed teams and a lack of communication, and therefore ensure communication and consistency through high quality work when providing a full service through the project life cycle.

Q7.What are the values that drive you?

Luckily for me, my values coincide with Ardent’s values. I was very thankful for my fellow colleagues recognising this and receiving the award of living and breathing the Ardent values at the recent annual Ardent Christmas event. Since I joined the Land Referencing industry, I have had a real thirst for knowledge (something many have heard me say again and again). I enjoy taking ownership of a situation, being the difference and adapting in this fast paced, high-pressured industry and lastly, enjoying the journey along the way, which is a must! In addition to the values mentioned above, it is essential for me to develop people to be the best version of themselves by giving them the exposure and support to excel.

Q8.What part of Ardent’s vision do you connect with?

For me, the part I connect with most is delivering life-improving change. Whether it is reducing congestion on a highway to upgrading and improving an area to enhance the quality of life for the residents and the local community. Knowing that you are part of the positive change is imperative and seeing a project come into fruition and the benefits being realised is highly rewarding.

Q9.What is the best advice you have ever received?

The best advice I was given was to continually ask questions! In my experience, I continue to learn new things each day.

”Something I read that really resonates with me is: “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question” – Eugene Ionesco’

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