Ed Goksal, our new data analyst, began his career at Carillion and spent two years at BIMobject, the digital marketplace for construction products. He talks to us about technology, Toronto software projects…and growing tomatoes in lockdown.
Q. When did technology come into your life?
A. In Primary school – playing on a Windows 95 system, especially on paint, creating a dot painting. Not forgetting, around the age of 8, we had a family computer which was the infamous Packard Bell PC with 256mb ram running Windows XP. I would always take off the face plate and just stare for hours on end to analyse how each part was connected to one another. I will always remember playing snake on my dad’s Nokia 6110 mobile too.
Q.How was your love of tech deepened during your early years?
A.My ICT teacher had a great impact, by making the class more engaging and delving into areas of technology which were out of the curriculum.
Q. You attended a Performing Arts College?
A. It was a high school which was also a Performing Arts College school. I had to take a subject in that curriculum so I took Drama thinking I could be the next Iron Man actor – but my strongest subjects were STEM subjects.
I reached a crossroads at A-level time when I had to choose between carrying on ICT at A levels, with other subjects thrown into the mix or find another route into the IT career path. I was fortunate enough to be accepted in a BTEC National Diploma course for IT Practitioners which was a perfect stepping stone before university.
Q. You are an active STEM ambassador. Do you think the pandemic – with data and science dominating the headlines – will prompt a big influx of students to university STEM courses and careers in this area?
A. 100%! I think this generation of students who faced the experience of the pandemic first-hand, understands the challenges which were faced across the globe. STEM has been at the heart of keeping communications / the world moving during the pandemic. We will see a huge demand of students getting into STEM courses and careers which ultimately will help to meet the skills gap which the UK is currently facing.
Q. Your first role was with Carillion – had you envisaged applying your technology skills within the construction sector? What appealed about this sector to you – did you consider other sectors?
A. My father was an electrical engineer within the railway industry. I had the opportunity to work with him from a young age in construction and found out the importance of using technology within buildings from concept to maintenance. It was a natural progression for me to apply my skill sets in the most amazing industry.
Q. That role saw you based in Canada – an exciting start to your career?
A. My young career at Carillion was an eventful one. I had the opportunity to travel around the world implementing solutions within all aspects of the built environment – from delivering software projects in Toronto-Canada, to providing maintenance to prison cells in HMP Winchester, not forgetting inspecting HVAC units on the top of Princess Tower in Dubai.
Q. After Carillion you moved to BIMobject – what prompted this move? What did you learn there? What knowledge and skills did this period equip you with?
A. The opportunity to join BIMobject was very exciting as I was coming from a corporate environment and joining a start-up / SME. Being around leaders in the industry of BIM was a huge learning curve for me. I had the opportunity to drive industry processes and standards / workflows across the spectrum to clients such as data insights, APIs, VR/AR, BIM 3D models, Digital Twins and private cloud solutions. I also supported business units with all aspects of sales and marketing.
Q. What attracted you to PCSG?
A. The opportunity to partake in industry leading programmes with respected and knowledgeable people. In addition, the flexibility to manage where you work and how you approach it – and the supportive culture which PCSG has.
Q. Data is the “new oil” the Economist tells us – is this the case?
A. Yes, for sure. Raw data is just like crude oil. It gets processed with algorithms; crude oil is processed in refineries. Processing crude oil can be transformed into very valuable products. Processing raw data can be transformed into very valuable, and scalable services.
Q. Were you initially surprised about how behind other sectors construction is in terms of its digital journey?
A. This was shocking to me when I first started my career, I remember hearing a statistic about how the Agriculture industry had more technology implemented than Construction at one point. However, with the drive from Government and leaders in the industry, this is today becoming the opposite.
Q. What will more widespread adoption of digital techniques bring to this sector?
A. Transparency. In order for people / systems to work leaner and in a more efficient way. I believe transparency is key and this can come from new ways of adopting digital techniques /strategies.
Q. Outside of work you spend a lot of time fund-raising and playing football – how do you build all this in with a career to manage too?
A. From my graduate placement I had the opportunity to be with ex-military officers as line managers / mentors. The way they embedded time management and resource/personal development planning has stuck with me since.
Q. How have you coped through the pandemic? Are you keen to get back into office life?
A. My wife and I have managed to take advantage of the time together to learn new skills. The most adventurous one I would say is growing tasty cherry tomatoes (which takes a lot of time and care!). I had the opportunity to work from home before the pandemic, so it was an easier transition for me. I’m very keen to get back into the office as it will be lovely to meet my new colleagues in person.
Q. What are graduates and young people looking for in an employer today? What keeps them there?
A. The values and mission of a company is a key factor as well as a future for them to grow within the company. The opportunities which a company can offer from career progressions to benefits in your personal life are also all factors.