By Elaine Lewis, Managing Director at Cadventure / WIB Mentor

On Thursday 20th October we held the Women in BIM (WIB) 10th Anniversary London celebrations.

Taking place at Foster + Partners’ offices (one of WIB Gold sponsors) we were hosted by Megan Sobczyk, Associate Partner, BIM Management.

We welcomed friends and supporters from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and career stages, from students to Directors, each with their own reason for being there either as Members, Allies, current and future Mentors, or Mentees for the WIB Mentoring programme.

Giulia Pustorino BIM Manager at Weston Williamson + Partners, and WIB Core Team Member, kicked off proceedings with a warm welcome and an introduction to the evening’s agenda. She gave us a brief resume of the inauguration of WIB a decade ago, our growth and global successes over the last ten years.

Rebecca De Cicco FCIOB, Principal, Digital Enablement at Aurecon and Global Chair and founder of WIB then joined the event with a pre-recorded address. She reminded us of the purpose of WIB as a global community with a vision to support, empower and celebrate female BIM and digital construction professionals.

We learned that back in 2012, Rebecca was already established as a leading expert in BIM. Having worked across the globe with many different organisations, she witnessed first-hand a lack of female professionals as role models in senior BIM positions. This powered Rebecca’s drive and ambition to create a new supportive environment to share skills, knowledge, insight, and best practice. As a result, WIB was formed to create a dedicated network for women working in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital construction.

She reported that today we are a global organisation of 2000 members in over 60 countries. Rebecca celebrated the organisations that support WIB as sponsors and the extensive network of regional leads, allies and mentors who work alongside the members.

We were treated to an illuminating presentation by May Winfield, Global Director of Commercial, Legal and Digital Risks, Buro Happold. She discussed the legal framework for BIM and shared some fascinating insights with real examples of contractual terms that she has come across in legal agreements where a client is requesting or mandating BIM on their projects.

She urged us to recognise and challenge some of the misuse of terminology and misunderstanding of what BIM is. This is to ensure expectations and obligations between the client and their consultants are clear and well-understood at the start of the project. Otherwise, this could result in expensive litigation downstream.

Finally, the panel discussion highlighted the importance of mentoring, upskilling, and supporting Women in our industry.

This session was Chaired by me, and our panellists were Emilia Cardamone, Associate Director – Digital, Turner & Townsend, Mairead Gallagher Morgan, Associate, Specialist UK BIM Lead, Buro Happold and Theresa Pan, Project Director at Pascall+Watson.

We discussed the importance of mentoring and how it can support career growth and a focused career pathway. We also talked about how this can bridge the skills gap and aid retention of female talent in the AEC sector which is a significant issue for us all. The panel then underlined the importance of keeping up with the new trends in the market to ensure we can be ready to mentor/upskill our people who are already in industry.

Together we explored what is mentoring, how that differs from training or managing a team. There was a lively discussion about what it takes to be a mentor and who should consider putting themselves forward for the role.

We also talked about the benefits of mentoring both for the mentor and the mentee and outlined the different types of mentoring including peer to peer mentoring and reverse mentoring, so anyone has the potential to a mentor Each panel member comes with different experiences and was able to highlight how they worked as mentors and role models both within their organisations and as part of the WIB mentoring programme.

Questions from the audience challenged the panel to uncover and answer some of the myths about mentoring that it could be time-consuming, and you need to be senior in your role and a technical practitioner to be considered. You don’t!

We concluded by encouraging audience members to spread the word about WIB and to sign up for the WIB Mentoring Scheme as mentors or mentees that opens to new applicants in January 2023.

As one of several global WIB 10th Anniversary events, the London event was a wonderful celebration of the WIB community, Rebecca’s original vision for WIB and how far we have progressed in ten years.

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