For the first time in a few years, DIO will soon have a member of staff based in Italy, and it could be you.
The primary role of DIO’s Senior Estate Surveyor Italy is to ensure that the housing requirements for the UK military and civilian personnel and their families assigned to the various NATO locations around Italy are met. It's a role I held until 2015.
Writing this now it’s hard to imagine myself when I applied for my first overseas posting to Gibraltar. I applied thinking I had no chance having not worked overseas previously but I applied anyway and hoped for the best. Three overseas postings, including as Senior Estate Surveyor at Gutersloh Garrison in Germany, and a unique breadth of experience later, I’m so glad I did.
On a day to day basis, my role in Italy as Senior Estate Surveyor was to be responsible for managing the leased buildings - mostly housing - and ensuring that the business relationship between landlords and the MOD remained cordial and professional. My job involved undertaking lease renewals, upgrade negotiations and rent reviews where these are required. It also covered terminating leases and returning properties to landlords as well as talking to them about any damage claims. The Senior Estate Surveyor is also responsible for recording lease and property data on DIO’s Information Management System and ensuring that rent and other contracted payments are made promptly and in accordance with the lease agreements.
The main concentration of MOD-leased housing is in Lago Patria just to the north of Naples but there are other smaller locations including Rome, Ferrara and Varese. DIO leases about 150 properties across Italy including several offices and community centres and the Senior Estate Surveyor is the professional focal point for the customer in all locations.
Living la dolce vita
Once I had got my feet under the desk I started to explore and immerse myself in the Italian lifestyle. I was able to go boating around the Bay of Naples, experience food and wine tasting, explore vineyards and olive picking and visit some of the most beautiful coastline and culturally rich cities in Europe. Occasionally going out with friends for meals embed me into the culture of the country. I really enjoyed the unusual cultural events such as the annual medieval parades and jousting contests as well as more modern sporting events such as the Rugby Six Nations in Rome.
The opportunity during time away from work to jump in the car or hop on a train and travel to some of the most famous and historic places in Italy was without a doubt one of the best parts of working in Italy, alongside just enjoying my job. Living and working in another country does come with its own challenges, not least a different language, but it’s in these instances that I was grateful to be sharing this experience with a fantastic DIO support network. There are also on-site staff with significant experience that I could call on if needed, as well as translators to help with the language barrier.
The broadness of experience I gained from working as a Senior Estate Surveyor overseas, including in Italy, was immeasurable. In previous posts my role was very job specific and I was tasked with one functional area to be knowledgeable in, for example planning and development. In Italy I was the single point of contact in all areas for my customer – both a subject matter expert and a jack of all trades if you like - getting a rounded experience. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to broaden my experience and ability for the future.
I was and remain incredibly proud to be acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. It’s a great responsibility and has built up my network and experience of interactions with senior government officials from the Ministry of Defence and other Government departments as well as our military and civilian customers.
I continue to work on our overseas estates but am now based in RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire. DIO is currently looking for an in-country successor in the post. The trappings of living and working in Italy seem like a distant memory and although my Italian is still questionable, my advice to anyone not sure about taking the plunge is to go for it. In the end, you might just be surprised. Take a look at the job application on Civil Service Jobs and if you have the relevant skills and experience, I urge you to apply.