Andy Powell, UK Head of BIM at Ramboll, offers his expert career tips
With almost 25 years’ experience in the industry, Andy has progressed from an Architect into a multi-disciplinary BIM Lead with Ramboll. His sustained, advanced and broad BIM experience provides an excellent insight into what matters most in your BIM career.
Here are Andy’s top 5 career tips:
TIP 1: DO WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
For a long time my passion has been technology in construction. I trained and qualified as an Architect, but I have always specialised in the technical delivery of projects with a focus on making good use of technology. Even in the early days of CAD and Visualisation, I could see how technology had the potential to make a huge impact on construction. I just had to wait for 15 years before the industry understood what I was on about, and I could make a career out of it.
TIP 2: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AND KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
It takes time to learn things, two years using Revit doesn’t make you a BIM Expert, it makes you someone who should be OK with Revit. If you don’t know, then don’t bluff it either. Someone will know more – stop and listen and use it as an opportunity to learn.
You need to have a sound and appropriate foundation for what you’re dealing with but that doesn’t mean knowing absolutely everything but it does mean understanding where your limits are. My degree was from a combined Architecture and Engineering course and at the time I didn’t realise how important that broad grounding was going to be. Looking back, I’ve found having a multi-disciplinary overview vital in coordination and managing complex projects.
TIP 3: BE DIFFERENT FROM THE CROWD
If everyone can do what you can, why should someone want you? As I said, I’m an Architect by training but I have spent the last decade working predominantly in an engineering environment. I’m amazed at how narrow people’s perspectives can be, having a different viewpoint is often very useful.
There are other areas where it pays to be different; I see a lot of people pushing services onto clients and projects. Don’t sell, instead add value. It’s the difference between push and pull. If you genuinely have something that will benefit a project or client and you can explain it to them clearly, then they will want it.
TIP 4: IF IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT, THEN IT PROBABLY ISN’T
This works on a number of levels. When pursuing career goals, it can be hard to gauge where an organisation really is and what their aspirations truly are. Most of them say the right things, but the reality is that the drive might not be there at the right level. That can be a very steep hill to climb and if the situation isn’t good for you, don’t expect it to get better by itself, do something or start looking.
This can also be true at a project level; don’t do things for the sake of it or because someone is asking for something they don’t really understand. Plan out what is important, challenge where appropriate and deliver value.
TIP 5: KEEP IT FUN
Do what you do because you enjoy it. We all spend a very large proportion of our time in our working environments so it needs to be somewhere you like being. If you dread going to work, you’re probably working in the wrong place or wrong environment and you need to fix that. It helps if you can maintain a sense of humour – yes what we are dealing with is important but it’s rarely life and death so keep it light. It really isn’t worth arguing if the “M” is a verb or a noun!
And try to finish with a joke:
How many architects does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Does it really have to be a lightbulb?