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Industry Focus – with David Humphreys

Industry Focus – with David Humphreys

Focus on… career steps with Group Director, Building Conservation Accredited Surveyor and CABE Building Engineer of the Year 2024 David Humphreys FCABE FRICS FSCSI IHBC CEnv

Q. What is your current role and how long have you been in the position?

A. Having worked in the global built environment sector for over 30 years, I am the founding director of ACP Group, which is an international, award-winning multi-disciplinary built heritage consultancy, with extensive experience in the conservation and management of ancient structures and buildings in Ireland, England, Newfoundland and Asia.  ACP have worked on over 1,000 projects since we were established in 2000 for private clients, charitable organisations, government departments and public authorities. We have offices in Ireland and Singapore.

Q. What route did you take to your current role?

A. I took a varied route. Starting as an apprentice, I went on through university and now have three postgraduate qualifications, all of which were helpful as I progressed in my career. (David has a first-class honours degree from University College Dublin in landscape architecture, a postgraduate diploma in project management from Henley Business School and an RICS postgraduate diploma in building conservation from the University College of Estate Management, which is part of Reading University).

I started out in private practice in Ireland, took a university teaching job in Australia for a few years and then joined English Heritage, where my love of old buildings was ignited. I returned to Ireland in the late 1990s and set up ACP Group because I believed there was a market in Ireland for the type of consultancy services we now provide. I enjoy running the company but more importantly, I absolutely love the work we do and collaborating with our team of committed professionals in Ireland and Singapore. 

Q. Was this role a career aim for you from the outset?               

A. I have always been happier working for myself and when I got the opportunity to set up the business in 2000, I jumped at it, knowing that it was going to be an wonderful but challenging journey.

Q. Did/do you have a mentor?

A. I didn’t have a mentor as such, but along the way I met some really good people who gave me the right advice and encouragement at key stages in my career.  My grandfather gave me probably the best piece of advice of all when he said to me at a young age starting out: “To always do the right thing, and be honourable in all your dealings with life and people”.   

We interviewed a young graduate recently who had fantastic qualifications at postgraduate level but no experience – in reality they have to start off from the bottom but have an opportunity to grow into a career that will be very rewarding. I would advise young people to stay away from the university system until they really know what they want to do in life and then decide on a path forward which is based on practical skills.

Our best engineers started out as apprentices and after qualifying in a trade, they went on to university to qualify as engineers.

Q. Are there any other positions in the built environment sector that you would like to try one day?

A. Not really. I certainly would not change anything if I had to do it all over again. My plan going forward is to build the overseas business with the team and continue to enjoy the journey. One of the things I really relish is the challenge of giving back to the profession in a meaningful way and passing on some useful experience. I do this through my involvement in CABE as Republic of Ireland Region Chair, and various roles within the RICS and SCSI dealing with building conservation.

Further guidance:

• The National Careers Service ( defines a building surveyor as the person who “advises clients about the design, construction, maintenance and repair of buildings”, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors breaks that down even further to state “building surveyors are responsible for assessing the quality of buildings” (

• David is an advocate for apprenticeships; a good place for students to start investigating this option is The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service website hosts search functions, podcasts, career quizzes, and reams of useful guidance for both undergraduates and postgraduates. David’s journey also proves that you never stop learning, as long as you remain open to it!

• University College of Estate Management is just one of several institutions that are CABE Academic Partners, and as such run courses that have achieved CABE accreditation. If you are thinking of embarking upon further education at any stage of your career, find out more at