BIM consultant, Rob Daniel, joined PCSG in September. He is already an integral part of our team and is currently supporting Sainsbury’s with its digital estates programme.
With over 15 years’ experience of working with manufacturers and contractors to identify objectives for digital processes and develop technical capabilities, Rob brings a wealth of hands-on, practical knowledge. He is also a well-respected trainer in BIM/digital systems implementation.
Welcome Rob, so what are your first impressions of PCSG?
Other than it clearly being a friendly place to work, already I can see the scope and variety of ways that the company supports clients with digital project delivery which is really exciting.
Within a week of starting, I found myself at Sainsbury’s main offices in Coventry where a PCSG digital estates team is on long-term secondment.
My role involves a lot of training of both internal colleagues and external stakeholders.
What interested you about joining us?
You just have to look at the company’s client list to understand the quality of the work that is produced. Plus, our chairman is Mark Bew who has been so instrumental to defining BIM and digital strategies in the UK.
Already, working with Mark Stodgell on Sainsbury’s, I can see that the level of expertise in the business is second to none.
I am also interested in the company’s involvement with significant change, whether it be smart cities or behavioural change that is needed to bring about different cultural ways of working.
What are the main skills that you are bringing to the role?
My technical knowledge and my ability to explain things are my main skills. I have been told that I deliver a clear concise message and that I am good at taking complex material and presenting it in a simple way.
I have worked extensively with digital processes – so I have a fair amount of insight and experience to both advise clients and to illustrate and back up my training.
Offering consultancy and delivering good training both start with understanding your audience – knowing the information they need and how best to tailor it to their way of learning/operating.
You started out in graphic design?
Yes, I took my qualification in graphic design, aged 18. I moved into construction, retraining to do surveying and estimating. It was the early 00s when there was a lot of building work going on and it seemed to the younger me that that was where all the opportunities lay.
You acquired your digital expertise at the coal face so to speak?
Yes, I worked my way from roofing contractor to technical support for façade manufacturers and R&D projects on ancillary cladding materials to developing BIM documentation that included OIRs, AIRs, EIRs and BEPs for the likes of universities and NHS Trusts.
When we talk of technical delivery happening in silos, I have worked my way around many specialist areas and understand where the mentality of shutting oneself away, head down in your own individual field comes from.
It’s tough at the coal face to just switch to collaborative ways of working, changing cultural behaviours and increasing communication.
We all know this shift in our digital processes is needed and it will come– but it does require much training, clear concise explaining, support, patience etc.
You obviously aren’t phased by change or having to adapt and learn new skills?
Not at all, in fact the opposite. I like to be continually learning and developing and welcome a new challenge. One of my first jobs in construction was working at a small material manufacturing company. It was a family run business plus myself as the additional employee. I did everything, from driving the forklift around the warehouse to producing all drawings and surveys plus technical support. I loved it, I learnt so much. However, it was my next move – to roofing and cladding manufacturer Marley Eternit – that fired my real interest in data.
How did your digital role develop?
I turned my logical brain and interest in procedures to the business of information gathering. I was put on some courses and, using the most current data templates available, I developed BIM Objects using Autodesk Revit, which included COBie & IFC. For these objects to be of use it was important to keep current with UK industry BIM standards and tools being developed in relation to level 2 project maturity.
How did you progress from cladding to experienced specialist software trainer – developing a COBie classroom course on database schema for example?
I guess my confidence grew, alongside my understanding of what was critically needed if the industry wanted to move forward. I realised that, by developing my specialist knowledge of the likes of Autodesk Revit, Navisworks, Nemetschek Solibri Model Checker along with the COBie extensions and toolkits, I could then increase general awareness and training among others.
Was becoming a trainer always part of your career plan?
No, not really. I just found myself increasingly being asked to take it on in my previous roles. I started running courses for product installation and specific applications such as cladding.
The feedback was always positive and as I acquired more in-depth technical knowledge and general experience of complying with industry requirements, building regulations etc, I found myself being asked more and more to share and explain. It was never a set objective to get into training, I fell into it really.
So, the learning of software training skills went hand in hand with developing specialist BIM knowledge?
Yes, my early industry involvement with BIM for manufacturing resulted in my being a steering group member of BIM4M2 (BIM for Manufacturers and Manufacturing) while I was working at Marley Eternit.
PCSG’s Steve Thompson was then at Tata Steel and chaired this group that was influential, alongside the CPA, in helping develop toolkits to roadmap digital processes as part of the UK government’s BIM Task Group.
I learnt a lot from what others were doing, challenges they faced – picking up specific experience from the product data templates group about helping define a standard approach for the provision of manufacturer data. I also first started working with COBie requirements.
My recent position at Majenta Solutions gave me so much hands-on experience. I led on the implementation of digital/information led processes, including the delivery of CAD support service and CDEs, monitoring model and clash co-ordination, plus BIM reviews for customers that ranged from university and government-funded clients to multiple contractors.
Who or what has had the most influence over your career and why?
Probably my family. I am a Coventry man, born and bred, and now live here with my wife and two children, plus one on the way. It sounds a bit corny, but I guess my career has always been focused around providing the best for them. I work hard and enjoy what I do and feel that I have a lot to give to this industry, but at the same time, I am led by the work life balance of keeping my family happy too. I think the philosophy at PCSG is in line with this way of thinking.
If you had not chosen this career, what else might you have been?
Maybe something artistic or creative – I do still love to sit and draw with my daughter at the kitchen table.
And finally, what advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise myself to keep pursuing the technical route in construction but to keep an eye out for digital disruption as it has bought about so much change in other industries over the past 20 years; if I could have got into the digital space a little quicker it may of helped, although maybe I learnt more along my slightly zig-zag route.
To learn more about how PCSG supports organisations to develop and implement digital strategies for their built assets and to extract maximum value from built asset data, please contact our Business Development Director, Olly.Thomas@pcsg.co.uk