Sylvia Hogg celebrates 25 years with RLB in Auckland

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  • Sylvia Hogg celebrates 25 years with RLB in Auckland
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Stephen Gracey

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In her 25 years with RLB, Senior Quantity Surveyor Sylvia Hogg has worked on everything from hotels to hospitals, casinos to data centres.

Sylvia has scheduled Auckland’s tallest tower and helped Christchurch rebuild after the earthquakes. She’s trained graduates and helped build our capabilities from the ground up. After a quarter of a century with RLB, what is the secret to Sylvia’s career longevity?

Senior QS Sylvia Hogg is one of our longest-serving valued staff, having joined RLB in Auckland in 1994. She worked at RLB for seven years before taking a short block of parental leave and returning in 2004. She has now been with RLB for more than 25 years and is an esteemed Fellow of the NZIQS.

A very interesting schedule

Sylvia heads our in-house Scheduling team, training and overseeing the measurement for Schedules of Quantities for a range of significant projects. Sylvia’s extensive experience has given her a broad understanding of the requirements of various project types across a wide variety of sectors. Where RLB has been engaged to provide scheduling on iconic projects in Aotearoa New Zealand, Sylvia has likely been involved. She looks back on her variety of project experience with RLB so far:

“We’ve always been involved in really interesting projects, and that’s what I love about my work. When I first started at RLB, I basically went straight to scheduling for the SkyCity Casino and worked with Technical Director Bob Buskin doing the Sky Tower – projects you’d never dream you’d work on. I’ve done schools, remand prisons, hotels, Ministry of Justice projects, multiple major University of Auckland projects, airports, data centres, hospitals – large and small – and I’ve learned about a lot of cultural aspects of projects with regards to working with mana whenua and iwi. It’s so interesting to be a part of the processes that become embedded in consultant teams,” Sylvia says.

“We also did a lot of more sombre work in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. It all adds up to a fascinating understanding of what goes into a construction project.

“I also scheduled the pontoons for the ferries here in Auckland which I found really interesting. They’re like a building that’s not quite a building; a flexible structure without foundations.”

Building her knowledge bank

Sylvia’s experience has spanned just about the full range of sectors in both the horizontal and vertical realms. Many construction projects are heavily oriented towards the stakeholders, and accurate scheduling can be essential for getting the right contractors interested in bidding for major projects. Sylvia knows the process inside and out.

“Doing works in an existing hospital and being involved in relocating the services has been intense at times, and it’s so varied. I do full new buildings, a bit of infrastructure, and annoy the other people in the office with my demands for data. I’ve also had the unique experience of scheduling infrastructure for sewage to Biofields in Tauranga, involving directional drilling and things like that. We have to work as a team at all times. Some projects are unique – for example providing data on construction for the water treatment from the ferry pontoons into the treatment systems. The types of systems under suspended and piled walkways are fascinating.

Sylvia has also been deeply involved in the development of RLB’s proprietary estimating software ROSS-5D, expanding its capabilities to enable the preparation of full Schedules of Quantities.

Continuous improvement – Sylvia’s generosity in upskilling RLB’s new staff

These days, Sylvia trains new and newly-graduated staff at RLB. Her generosity with her extensive knowledge and skill base makes her a huge asset.

“I like talking to the new cadets and graduates and helping them along with learning our systems and processes, giving guidance where needed or asked, letting them know they can come and talk to me whenever. Scheduling is not for the faint-hearted – you have to coordinate all the consultants’ information and ensure it will all mesh together in practice. There are always new materials in the market that need to be accounted for.”

25 years and still going strong

It is rare nowadays for someone to stay in the same industry, let alone the same business, for decades. Sylvia credits her longevity to the culture of RLB.

“I really like the company. RLB has been built by good people – the people really do make it what it is. We have a really good strong team and I think that always makes people want to stay on. The culture is positive.”

Sylvia’s earnest interest in her work and enthusiasm for construction makes her a delight to have in the Auckland office.

RLB in Auckland Director Richard Anderson remembers her early days: “I recall accompanying Sylvia for a site walk on a major Auckland project back in the 1990’s. The whole site workforce seemed to stop to watch a ‘girl’ on site. I felt quite uncomfortable for her. But in true Sylvia fashion, she didn’t bat an eyelid.”

Managing Director Steve Gracey adds, “25 years is a terrific milestone. I joined RLB around the same time as Sylvia so have known her from day one. She’s a highly respected colleague who has always been a genuine pleasure to work with.”

RLB in Auckland is fortunate to have Sylvia, and grateful for her cheerful outlook, her diligence and dedication, her meticulous approach to her work as a specialist Senior QS, and the rare skillset she has developed and continues to pass on.