BIM Brunch: Katy Harris

Credit: Project Five
Credit: Project Five

BIM Brunch is the perfect accompaniment to your dinner break. Featuring some major players from the #GlobalBIMCrew, BIM Brunch is an interview segment where BIM specialists talk about their passion for Building Information Modelling. In the first edition of 2015, Project Five Consulting Associate Director, Katy Harris divulges what she loves about architecture and her work at Project Five.

What is your favourite career related website/blog?

Designing Buildings Wiki is a great initiative and is full of useful info.

Do you have a favourite industry book, magazine or publication?

It’s not specific to construction but I am big fan self-improvement books! One of my favourites that I always come back to is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The top industry event you have recently been to is?

Last year was a short year for me having returned to work after maternity leave so I wasn’t able to make it to many events. This year I am looking forward to getting to a lot more!

Favourite Twitter handles to follow?

We are lucky in our industry to have some great personalities on Twitter. @lizmale and @subutcher are both great. I also like @davidgcant – he keeps me amused with his posts about H&S fails across the world.

What is your all-time favourite building?

One of my favourite buildings is the Toast Rack in Manchester. It’s not to everyone’s taste with its unusual concrete frame, but I think it’s really distinctive and the ‘Fried Egg’ restaurant inside was put to perfect use as a catering college by Manchester Met Uni. I got to know it quite well as my family’s company worked on in the late 1990’s. The Toast Rack became a major part of my sales spiel with potential clients when I was selling the merits of concrete repair – and I grew quite fond of it.

What is your favourite project you have worked on?

I don’t work on construction projects any more in the traditional sense of the question, however have been involved in a huge number of projects to deliver improvement activities, bid for work and so on. I’m not sure I can pick one as the projects have been so varied, and good (or bad) for very different reasons.

What is the best thing about the team at Project Five?

I’m sure everyone says this but our team are fantastic! We all share the same passion for going the extra mile for our clients, and have great enthusiasm for improving the industry.

What was the first BIM related project you have been a part of and what did you learn from the experience?

Our biggest project is with the National Federation of Builders and their BIM programme. A major part of the project has been the BIM Champion Programme, providing training and support to individuals within NFB member companies to enable them to drive their BIM strategy through the business. We’ve done this through a series of training interventions supported by action learning sets attended by up to about eight people. It’s been a huge learning curve for everyone involved – and being part of the journey has allowed us to develop a more strategic and focussed programme.

The most exciting possibilities Building Information Modelling can offer are?

I think BIM is a vehicle that, if used by an enlightened client, provides a real opportunity for early contractor involvement and collaborative working in construction. This is something we have been unable to achieve for a long time, but that everyone seems to agree will create a more efficient, less confrontational and generally better industry.

Who or what made you want to work within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction sector?

It was a bit of a curve ball for me. My family has been in construction for generations, however I had never intended to go into the business. It started after helping out with a temporary role in the accounts department of my dad’s concrete repair company (when I was between marketing jobs) where my original six month placement turned into a three year job. It was my brother that inspired me to stay. It was early in 2000 and he made me read the Latham report after I moved into helping him in Sales and Marketing, and I got really interested in the improvement agenda. He also encouraged me constantly helping me to establish myself in the industry and giving me a lot of confidence – as a young female I was certainly a minority figure in the world of concrete repair! I came to love the industry the people involved, an can’t see myself anywhere else these days!

What is your proudest career highlight?

It’s hard to say, many of my highlights are linked to working with my clients on successful bids. Hearing from someone recently I provided bid coaching for five years ago, who told me the training had changed the way they bid and inspired them to improve their business was a bit of a highlight. Sometimes you get bogged down in the here and now and forget the impact you may have on the people you work with. It really refreshed my enthusiasm for the job.

What is the best part about your job?

My role is hugely varied with a focus on providing bid support, however I also work with companies looking to understand how they can improve – for example become ‘BIM’ ready, and provide training in a variety of topics. This means I get to work with lots of different companies and their teams. This is great for me as I love to meet new people and help them to find solutions to their various issues. The best part of all of this is sharing the success of my customers, it’s a great feeling to know you have been part of a positive change or a winning bid team.

Make sure to follow Katy Harris and Project Five on Twitter by clicking here and here.

Check back on Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 for the next edition of BIM Brunch.

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