Vale Denis Levett, much-admired founding partner of Rider Levett Bucknall

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Stephen Mee

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Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) pays tribute to renowned leader Denis Levett, after his passing on 8th March 2019 at the age of 91.

A veteran quantity surveyor and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, and an Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Denis Levett was instrumental in establishing the firm’s character and presence in China.

Dedicated to the quantity surveying profession

After qualifying in 1955 in Britain and practicing in Britain and Australia, Denis arrived in Hong Kong in the early 1960s.

At that time, the quantity surveying profession was not widely recognised in Hong Kong. Denis played a major role in the development of professional education, including the establishment and validation of degree courses in surveying at the University of Hong Kong and at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The political climate in the sixties meant that Denis’ time at the helm of Levett & Bailey was a time of political upheaval, with protests in support of the Cultural Revolution of China. Lending to the building trade was cut back and many projects were put on hold.

Under Denis’ leadership, Levett & Bailey grew from small beginnings in the early 1960s to a well-respected professional practice in Hong Kong and mainland China. He retired as Senior Partner in 1999.

In June 2007, Levett & Bailey formed a global practice with Rider Hunt in Australia and Bucknall Austin in the UK and was renamed Rider Levett Bucknall.

Today, Rider Levett Bucknall has more than 1,700 employees in Hong Kong and China.

An inspiring leader and mentor

Denis’ formidable leadership, paired with his warmth and down-to-earth nature garnered him deep respect from customers and staff alike. His perseverance in striving for excellence and his dedication to the quantity surveying profession, inspired many generations of quantity surveyors and construction professionals.

He was instrumental in establishing staff exchange programs, enabling staff to work in different cities and for different RLB clients.

Past RLB Global Chairman, Philip Lo, had a particularly special relationship with Denis.

He said, ‘Denis was one of the founding fathers of Levett & Bailey and was always a trusted advisor – to his clients, to our staff and to his friends. He maintained high integrity as a true professional. He gave us support, inspiration and guidance.

His wisdom, his insights and his kindness were invaluable throughout the years. He was truly a great man, a great mentor, a great leader, a great friend.’

Throughout his illustrious career, Denis was always happy that so many people he met and worked with also became his good friends.

RLB Chairman of Hong Kong and China Kenneth Kwan said, ‘Many of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with Denis carry fond memories of him. His scholastic and charismatic image will always be with us…

We shall miss him dearly, but we will continue to be inspired by his passion and compassion.’

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