Introducing Poonam Nischal – a day in the life of a Monitoring Officer
Poonam shares an insight into her life, and a typical day as a Monitoring Officer at Vercity, working across several UK projects.
What is your role and journey at Vercity so far?
My first position at Vercity was Monitoring Officer within the compliance team. I moved into Operations as an Operations Officer for a couple of years before to returning to another Monitoring Officer role, covering more projects in the compliance team. I really enjoy the team aspect of it and had missed it. I work with 10 other Monitoring Officers, doing the same job at different projects. If you’re dealing with something difficult, it’s likely someone else in the team has already dealt with it and can offer support. It’s nice to be able to discuss ideas on how they were able to rectify any issues.
My time in the Operations role helped me understand what was happening with those teams and what they must deal with. That awareness informs how I work as a Monitoring Officer now, and how I collaborate effectively with Operations teams, adding value in more places.
What projects do you work on?
I have the Home Office, Leyton Schools, Broomfield Hospital, Swanscombe Schools and Taunton in Somerset.
Visiting a project is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. It depends on what’s coming up for review. We take a bespoke approach to suit. If it’s a project that needs extra attention, I’ll make the time to go there more frequently.
How long have you worked at Vercity?
I joined in November 2019, before that I was working part-time in car sales.
I was so grateful to be able to come back to the asset management world. Before I had kids, I was in that environment and wanted to get back to it. It was a good restart for me as I had experience in that setting. My kids were at the right age, and I was ready to get back into full time work. It was perfect timing.
We’ve got a good team. We’ve got good people around us and when you communicate with Operations, they communicate back. It’s a great place to be and I’m happy to be here.
Have you been involved in ESG at Vercity?
Last year I organised Operation Christmas Child with Holly Bunning.
We invited colleagues to get involved throughout Vercity on our intranet and in the monthly operations update. Operation Christmas Child involves packing a shoe box, with toys and useful things like toiletries, then wrap in as a present to be donated to countries around the world where children are in need or people need extra support.
We spent half the day in the office putting together boxes and we also got a donation from two of our projects for a generous amount of money to go to Operation Christmas child directly.
We had interest from other colleagues who could either send their boxes to Swanley office or drop them at a local drop off point with the Vercity QR code on. So it could be scanned and all donations collated as one. We intend to do it again this year and shout even louder this year to offer as much support as possible.
Do you have any advice for new people coming into the business?
Talk to as many people as you can and be as honest as you can. If you’re struggling, speak out. Talk to your manager and your peers to get guidance if you need it. I think that if you’re not sat beside somebody, it’s important to just ask. Talk to people openly and be transparent about what you may be struggling with, and what you are enjoying at work. And you want to do more of something, talk about it, other people will then hear about it and you might find an opportunity to work on more of what you enjoy.
What would you say differentiates Vercity from other organisations that you’ve worked in?
I’ve noticed the human element, being treated as a whole person who has needs outside of work. And this is the first, the only place where I’ve felt like I can be open about being a mother and having a family.
My manager showed me that it’s OK and it’s encouraged me to be open and ask for what I need in my life and at work. If I needed something different, then I know that there’s someone I can speak to. There are challenges outside, so it’s nice to know that my employer is aware and engaged with that.
A day in the life of a Monitoring Officer
“First I review evidence via the RBM which is the Vercity risk-based monitoring system. On the system we have all the activities which have been risk assessed. Monitoring Officers analyse these to determine if service providers are doing these activities as they should be.
I might look at one of my projects to confirm if they’ve completed their water sampling or if they have completed their lift insurance inspections. From here I would go to a site and speak to my compliance contacts within the service provider teams. I would ask them for the relevant information relating to an activity and review it.
Monitoring Officers receive training on what to look out for on compliance certificates and whether we need to do additional checks. For example, if we were looking at gas safety certificates, we should confirm the registration of the person doing the gas safety check, to know that they are registered and have the appropriate accreditations to undertake the work.
I gather the evidence so I can then review it, and then once I’ve done that, I go back onto our RBM system and update it with the current status. If an activity has not been completed for example, I would mark this on the RBM as non-compliant and inform the operations team.
I complete and submit my notes with as much detail as possible, such as dates for completion, who has completed the activity I am monitoring and whether there are any remediations required.
I also report defects on the RBM and update the general manager when there’s been a remedial so they are aware and can follow up if they need to. It’s a good way for us to understand what assets and what activities are having regular remedials. The system gives us the story of an asset and what’s going on with it.
If I hear that there are works going on at a project, then I’ll find out if they are removing or replacing any assets. This ensures we’ve got an up-to-date system and ongoing updates of any changes.”