Job spotlight: Melanie Dawson, head of BIM and digital, Graham
The head of BIM and digital construction at UK contractor enjoys meeting the challenges of a fast-evolving role.
Your role is a relatively new concept in construction. Did you have to undertake any extra training/need a certain set of skills?
I earned my degree in architecture and joined Graham in February 2016 as BIM strategy manager. I was promoted to head of BIM the following year and then transitioned to my current role in early 2018. I like to think that my role moves forward as technology does.
“I’m a true believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, which is why I feel the key attributes for someone in my position are passion and vision.”
Melanie Dawson, Graham
With the ongoing advances in technology, I am always learning on the job and finding new tools to improve Graham’s efficiency. We have a growth mindset and are regularly rolling out new digital systems across the business.
I’m a true believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, which is why I feel the key attributes for someone in my position are passion and vision.
Also, being brave enough to put your neck on the line and support a new initiative. There’s always a risk with new technology that it won’t end up being the “next best thing” and then you must be able to think on your feet and adapt.
What is a typical day in your job?
No day is ever the same. I travel between Graham’s offices so knowing that my time is limited while maintaining a good work/life balance is important to me. I focus on productivity and adding value, and find that communicating my main goals to the wider business helps keep me on track.
I also manage an innovative team of likeminded individuals who want to make a difference. Investing in their skills is incredibly important if we want them to drive Graham’s future.
What is the most challenging aspect of this role? And the most rewarding?
As with most industries, adversity in the face of change is always a challenge. You can sometimes feel like you’re chasing a moving target but the challenge is also the most rewarding aspect of my job.
To see an idea materialise into something tangible is the best feeling and means we’re doing it right. I also find communicating with clients very rewarding. You feel very appreciated when contacts you haven’t had very long call you up to ask for your opinion.
The digital world is changing fast – how do you see your job evolving?
I often joke that it won’t be long before I’m managing a team of robots, and while I don’t think this is completely accurate, I do think we will see more automation. We’re already taking cues from industries such as car manufacturing, with advances in modular construction and 3D printing.
For me, in the last 10 years I have always held a role that didn’t exist 10 years previously and I hope that this is still the case in 10 years’ time as I strive to continue evolving, growing and driving impactful transformation.