by Marie Grieve, Global Vice Chair, Women in BIM
November was a monumental month for Women in BIM (WIB), with not just one, but two conferences taking place at opposite ends of the world!
First, we celebrated the achievements of incredibly talented women across Australia and New Zealand and then our trusted voices took to the stage in the UK.
On Wednesday 8 November, almost 200 people gathered in Sydney to showcase, highlight and exchange new knowledge on digital developments and transformation taking place across the built environment. This sentiment was echoed in London on Wednesday 22 November throughout another 200 strong audience.
At WIB we strive to celebrate women all over the world who achieve great things and make tremendous wins. WIB was established in 2012, fuelled by a passion to give women a voice in a noisy, male dominated industry. Today, we have moved beyond simply giving women a voice, we have made our voices ones to be trusted.
Speaking about the need to support women in this way, WIB Founder and Global Chair, Rebecca De Cicco opened the Sydney conference with the importance of diversity in the digital built environment and the impact of the work undertaken by WIB globally to support the construction industry in retaining talent and fostering a gender equal future for our industry.
At WIB, we have almost 3,000 Members, with 102 Regional Leads in 52 countries. Our work is critical to the success of a diverse, inclusive industry where everyone has a sense of belonging.
And it was this sentiment that influenced the theme of these two conferences, a theme of “confidence”, and having the confidence to be the best version of yourself. Our values make us who we are, and our standards define what we are willing to accept in life. At WIB, we encourage everyone to never accept being anything less than their authentic, incredible, powerful self!
This theme ran true in every session, but none more so than in the WIB Mentoring panel session in London led by WIB Global Executive Team Member, Willow Willams: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent!” and the Building Confidence, Skill & Leadership talk in Sydney by Cathy Hayes, Head of Client and Strategy for CPD Contractors.
Willow led a panel of WIB Mentors and Mentees and began by saying: “Mentoring is about empowerment, confidence building and full of emotional wins. Typically people will forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Cathy also spoke about how finding your sense of purpose is a never-ending road of discovery and it is this sense of purpose that creates the building blocks for confidence, setting you on a search for new knowledge and learning: “We should never be afraid to fail, recognition of failure is a necessary part of growth and our confidence building journey.” Wise words from Cathy, confidence is not a panacea, but rather an enabler to make you, and others around you feel certain of success.
Across both conferences we heard from three outstanding Keynote speakers. First in Sydney was Sarah Walsh, Head of Women’s Football, Football Australia and former Australian international athlete with 70 caps and 35 international goals for the Matilda’s, who shared the incredible story that has led to today’s record breaking Matilda’s team success and what has change now in society because of Australia falling in love with a women’s sport team. Sarah’s words were not only empowering and uplifting but resonated with the sense of community, collaboration and communication. Whether we are a sports team or a construction project team, these areas are essential to successful outcomes.
In London, former CIA Field Agent and Founder and CEO of Entreprenora, Rupal Patel was the opening Keynote – like Sarah, Rupal’s words also lifted the room with her Think Bigger, Lead Better and Be Bolder message, that we are all wonderful human beings and should celebrate our uniqueness, even if we are a little weird at times. The quote of the day from Rupal was: “Own your weird”.
The London closing Keynote came from Alison Watson MBE, Fonder and CEO of Class Or Your Own and the award winning Design, Engineer Construct programme for schools, who quoted Helen Keller: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” And Alison certainly gave us that hope and confidence.
All three Keynotes were incredible, their powerful energy spread throughout the conference. But this is only half the story, our conferences were also a hive of digital activity and talent.
There were presentations and talks on technology and innovation, leadership and sustainability. All focusing on digital enablement and transformation. Over the two conferences, there were 24 sessions and over 60 speakers who united the audiences with their passion for protecting the future of our industry through innovation, invention and collaboration.
With so many highlights, too many to list them all, we reflect on the generous abundance of genius thinking. Which was bountiful in the “Future technology trends” panel led by WIB Regional Lead for New South Wales, Jenny Tseng and the “Pushing the boundaries of technical innovation” panel let by BIM4Water Chair, Clare Taylor – both sessions were explosive, and challenged our thinking on technology, particularly the current use, uptake, curiosity and caution on the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Are we driving technology or is technology driving us?
Our two conference chairs, Emily Rice, Television Journalist, 9News and David Philp, Chief Value Officer at Cohesive expertly led us through a content programme overflowing with unforgettable moments of joy, laughter, brilliance and valuable takeaways. These two conferences have been described by many as ground-breaking, Elaine Lewis, Managing Director for Cadventure and a WIB Mentor told us: “I have had more invitations to connect on LinkedIn from attendees and more positive comments for the mentoring session than I have for anything I have ever done before. Several people also messaged me to say that they are going to volunteer as mentors. I know that was not the specific agenda but, if it is measure of people finding their voice, I would say that you have really lit a fire in the WIB community.”
And one final word of thanks to our generous sponsors, without their support events such as this could not take place. At WIB we are fortunate to have the support of industry leading organisations as sponsors and partners, to allow us to host events to showcase talent, share insights and give us a voice.