There’s something special about being able to walk through a space fully understanding the design intent before anything is ever constructed. As someone with an architectural background, I gravitated towards BIM and VDC because I saw the value in helping teams visualize projects and solving problems (using technology) before they arise.
Today, BIM and VDC teams play a crucial role in multiple stages of the project lifecycle—from planning and design to construction and turnover. BIM and VDC roles aren’t just about software anymore; they’re about driving the ways we innovate and engage technology to enable an enhanced, more collaborative process. Plus, these roles are also responsible for developing new and improved methods for executing work.
The most impactful BIM and VDC professionals don’t just set up their models and call it a day. Thanks to more open APIs and cloud platforms, combined with advancements in automation, they recognize themselves as playing a truly vital role during design and construction. They’re striving to offer immense value to stakeholders, which is showcased through quality assurance and finding a single source of truth.
These AEC technology practitioners don't just ensure BIM and VDC deployment and adoption, they also help teams explore making more informed design and construction decisions. Those who are successful in BIM and VDC roles also enable owners to envision what they’re receiving while empowering firms to provide additional value and services, particularly as technology evolves.
As such, BIM and VDC careers can be incredibly rewarding, and they present tremendous possibilities for professionals in design and construction. If you're in this type of role, you have numerous opportunities at your fingertips. My BIM and VDC Master Class will teach you how to spot these opportunities and use them to advance in your career.
What does it take to thrive as a BIM or VDC professional? While specific career journeys may vary, I’ve found that having these four skills and characteristics put you in a better position to succeed.
Formal training is always a plus, but a consistent drive and the desire to learn are crucial for a successful BIM professional, especially since technology is constantly changing. This is something I realized early on in my career. When first starting out in BIM management, I knew I needed to learn new software so I could get ahead of the curve.
The good news is information is more accessible than ever. We’re a Google generation. If you don’t know something, you can quickly find resources, videos, and training materials.
It’s also important to recognize that learning is a continuous process, and the only way to become better at what you do is by showing up consistently and putting in the reps. You’re not going to be a pro on the first day. You may not hit it out of the park on your first, second, or third project. However, by internalizing the knowledge you gain at each stage and applying it to future endeavors, you’ll continue to develop your expertise, hone in on your specializations, and reach new career heights.
So, always have your learning cap on. Find lessons in every project and strive to learn from your team members. And don’t forget to stay on top of the latest software and technology packages.
Curious. Inquisitive. Forward-thinking. These are the words I use to describe the type of person who would excel at BIM and VDC management. Those who go far in this line of work are the ones who don’t settle for an existing tool or process just because that’s the way it’s always been done. Top-performing BIM and VDC pros are constantly searching for ways to do things faster, better, and more cost-effectively. They ask questions, exploring the why's before the how's.
In the context of a construction project, these are the folks who eagerly explore answers that the project team is trying to uncover. They actively participate in the project and collaborate with stakeholders to develop more innovative practices.
To go far in your career, you must be able to articulate the value of technology to the broader strategy of the business. Data is almost always at the center of these conversations. How does the BIM and VDC department connect to the firm's data strategy? How do we incorporate that data to facilitate better decision-making?
One of the ways to do this is to quantify the value that your work brings to the table. You can say something along the lines of, "We saw this before it was built, which led to X amount of dollars in savings.”
Here’s an example. We were working on a grain silo project where we showed the client how the flatbed was going to back up, tilt up the silos in place, and insert them where they needed to go. This may sound simple, but we were working in a tight space, which meant the client needed to use certain types of trucks on the project. We used Autodesk Navisworks to facilitate the simulation, and we were able to predict what type of flatbed truck we needed along with the kind of axis and how the truck needed to back up onto the site.
The result? We saved our client over a hundred thousand dollars in potential mistakes by picking the wrong truck. And we did it with simple modeling, a drone, and a 3D collaboration platform. This is an example of how you can demonstrate the value of your work. When you do this repeatedly, you reinforce what you bring to the table, which ultimately helps you move up in your organization.
The best BIM and VDC managers are generous with their knowledge. On top of establishing their value proposition, they encourage others to do the same. These individuals pave the way for others to move up into their roles. They want to grow the next generation of technologists executing this work.
I tell my employees every day, "Put me out of my job. Do the job better than me. Teach me something new every day. Inspire and excite me!"
You can’t be stingy with what you know. The only way to progress is to share knowledge and empower others to innovate—write articles, present at conferences, and do internal webinars at your organization.
The future is bright for BIM and VDC professionals who repeatedly and consistently learn, deliver value, and empower others to grow. If you’re looking to advance your career in BIM and VDC, my Autodesk Master Class walks you through the steps you can take to build a successful team, get a promotion, and thrive in your role. Learn more about advancing your career in BIM and VDC today!