Having initially joined Brewer Smith Brewer Group on an internship, Tom Dryburgh has now become one of the latest full team members in the Vietnam office (he was followed by Senior Architectural Technologist, Alan Gander, who we will be introducing in a later blog). We caught up with Tom, who studied in his home country of Scotland at the Robert Gordon University (RGU) Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, to check on his progress and how he’s enjoyed adapting to and working in Vietnam.
“I had graduated from University and initially wanted to spend time in Asia,” Tom tells us. “Then my course leader shared the advert from BSB Group and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to travel and work overseas.”
Tom fought off tough competition from across the world to secure his internship, and was hired by BSB Group’s Lead Chartered Architectural Technologist, Mark Vaughan (MCIAT). Throughout the course of his internship, Tom displayed all the characteristics BSB Group looks for in recruiting the right people, aligned with the company vision: “To set the highest standard of design and delivery internationally”. BSB Group takes great care in recognising and rewarding talent, and so once the six-month term was up, Tom was offered a position on a full time basis as a Junior Architectural Technologist – an opportunity that few graduates find themselves presented with.
“It was great to be offered a position with BSB Group in Vietnam as they are such a well-respected firm with a great portfolio of projects,” Tom says. “Even in the first few months of my internship I felt as though I would like to stay with the company beyond the six months. I really like the people and realised quickly there was so much I could learn here. Also, Vietnam is a great base to take trips around the rest of Asia, which is something I am keen to continue to do during my time off!”The view from the BSB Group Vietnam office in HCMC
During his internship, Tom became a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT); the qualifying body for Architectural Technologists, and an organisation BSB Group enjoys a close relationship with. He also played a role in some significant international projects, while learning how a large company like BSB Group operates. He tells us it’s been a steep learning curve, but that all he learned at university has certainly helped him – including some tips he didn’t really understand at the time. “I’ve realised the importance of communication and coordination. This was something lecturers talked about a lot during university, but I never really understood why. Now I see that without consistent and clear communication across the company, it can cause many problems and waste a lot of time and effort. I spend much more time now making sure I understand the direction of a task before starting work on it. Working within BSB Group you see how efficient they are, and you understand the standards, which I think have been built up over the last four decades. They don’t compromise on quality, and there is no room for poor communication.”
To finish, we ask Tom about his experience of living so far away from home, and what his biggest challenges have been in adapting. Tom’s mother is originally from Vietnam, so whereas for most Scots the culture shock might prove to be more of a stumbling block, he was already familiar with many aspects of the Vietnamese way of life, and was able to adapt quite quickly to his new surrounds, even though, as he says, “It’s a long way from the Highlands…”Motorcycles are the most convenient method of transport in Ho Cho Minh City
“The lifestyle is much more social than in Scotland,” Tom continues. “I like living in a big city because it has so much to offer and you can never get bored, and the overall vibe of Vietnam is really positive and optimistic. Tackling the traffic every morning can be difficult, but it’s fun to drive around on a motorbike like everyone else. I go riding with Loc Do, a Job Captain in the Vietnam office, which we really enjoy. I try to embrace the food too, by trying new things and always using lunchtime to find new places to eat. But now and again it’s nice to get some good western food. The social life is great, I’ve made many friends within the Vietnamese community and European expats also. Everyone is always keen to go and hang out, and it’s surprisingly easy to make friends here which is good.”
As for the highlight of his time with BSB Group from a social point of view, there’s one memory that stands out for Tom: “Witnessing the voice of (BSB Group Senior Chartered Architectural Technologist) Alan McIntyre singing at Karaoke. Amazing.”
For more information on CIAT, click here.
Learn more about Robert Gordon University (RGU) Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment