Step by step

Naturally the most straightforward way of becoming an architect is to graduate in architecture. To get a good job with a general contractor, you'd be advised to earn a diploma in the building trade. But what if you're trying to find work with a developer?

There are no schools which specialize in this field, so how do you go about getting your foot in the door? "You can't go on a course to learn how to do this job. You can only learn from experience," says Per-Lennart Johansson, head of Skanska Property. "You can never know everything so you must be patient and conscious of the fact that it will take a long time before you reach a high position. You can call yourself an experienced developer after ten years working as one."
"We look for new staff either among people who've had some experience in the field or among young university graduates who gain knowledge while working with us," says Miroslaw Szydelski, Investment Director for AIG/Lincoln Polska.

That type of job
For Mirosław Szydelski the development process is at turns both simple and complex. Although its individual elements aren't complicated, their sheer number calls for an interdisciplinary approach. Another consideration is the high cost of investment where mistakes impact heavily. "I feel that candidates for developer positions should be people with interdisciplinary interests: ideally architects or engineers conversant with matters of finance, or a financier familiar with construction work. It's not easy to find employees who are open-minded and are continually looking to expand their knowledge."

First steps
Developers all agree that the way to acquire professional skills in their trade is by dealing with daily problems and watching and learning from older and more experienced colleagues.
Per-Lennart Johansson recalls: "When we were putting the team together in 1997, all of our staff had had some previous experience of working for other companies. But we had to learn step by step."

Small numbers
Given the size and complexity of developments, one might get the impression that developers employ hordes of people, which couldn't be more wrong. Skanska Property, which has developed a large section of Warsaw's Al. Jana Pawła II with its Atrium buildings, has only sixteen members of staff.
AIG/Lincoln, developers of Saski Point and Saski Crescent, as well as the Diamond Business Park warehouse complexes in Warsaw, Piaseczno and Łódź, (another in Gliwice is planned), employ about forty workers. Though Per-Lennart Johansson admits that his company frequently works with consultancy firms, he adds: "We employ highly-specialized staff and this helps us carry out a variety of projects."