William Baker-Jones is a senior Building Information Modelling (BIM) co-ordinator within our Kier Regional Building Western & Wales business. Here, William explains how he is proud to be playing a part in the digital revolution taking place within the construction industry and why he is determined to inspire others to join it.

“I am from generation Y, a millennial, who has grown up in a world where technology is all around me, it’s aided and enriched the way I have lived my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve grown up with evolving technologies, I’ve actively embraced it and always wanted to use it in all that I do.

From a young age, I always knew I wanted to have a career within the built environment, I dreamt of being an architect constructing new buildings. Midway through completing my Architectural Degree, I had two spinal operations which gave me time to try new things and I took the opportunity to learn about new types of software and technology being used within the industry. I took this knowledge into my third year and once I recovered, I managed to achieve the highest technical mark in the school of architecture.

After qualifying from the University of Plymouth with an Architectural Degree, I landed a role within an architects’ firm where I learnt the ins-and-outs of researching and designing a building and how to effectively manage a range of stakeholders. I really wanted to bring my love of technology into my work and I felt there had to be other roles that would support this more, and I wanted more complex  challenges, so I started to look for other opportunities.    

That’s when I discovered Kier. I applied for a BIM co-ordinator position within the Western & Wales business as I felt it would seamlessly combine my interests in technology and buildings. Since starting in Kier nearly two and a half years ago, there really has been no looking back. My passions have been welcomed and embraced by many colleagues and I know a technology-led approach to projects truly matters.

It’s hugely exciting to see the impact a BIM and technology-led approach is having on our projects and the benefits it is offering to our clients. Through BIM, we are providing our clients with vital details that allow them to make informed choices, be it at a pre-construction or delivery stage or even years later when a building needs to evolve or adapt.

We can work collaboratively with our clients to create Asset Information Models, whereby we construct a building virtually first to analyse and approve before a physical and identical building follows.  A case in point is St Sidwell’s Point, set to be the UK’s first Passivhaus leisure centre, this is a project where all involved have understood the importance of BIM and digital processes since the start, this includes our progressive client, Exeter City Council through to our supply chain who have proactively looked to understand our new ways of working and have upskilled, and two businesses have even hired BIM specific positions to support, as a result.     

The outbreak of COVID-19 has also shone a light on how BIM and other forms of technology now plays a key part in the delivery of our projects. Clients were able to view progress through digital libraries and make decisions from their homes – by providing this visibility, it has meant we have been able to carry on delivering vital projects for local communities.

One of these projects was the delivery of NHS Nightingale Bristol, where we supported the NHS to deliver a new healthcare facility in a matter of weeks to potentially treat patients with COVID-19.  Situated at UWE Bristol, time was of the essence and we had to understand what had been installed on site as the project was moving at such pace so we utilised Holobuilder to capture 360 degree stills throughout the day – this was pivotal to some of the decision being made, and that needed to be done quickly.

We’ve all had to embrace change in response to COVID-19 and it has shown that we can do things differently, and better. I sit on the UK BIM Alliance executive board and it really feels like there has been a fundamental shift across the industry to be more focused on how BIM and other technologies can support our work.

In 2016, the Harvard Business Review ranked construction as one of the least digitised sectors, four years on and there is a movement for change, we must continue to build on this momentum that technology is fundamental to delivering quality projects.

Key to this is inspiring the generation after me, gen Z and future generations, to consider joining our industry is through showcasing how technology and BIM are fast becoming vital to project forecasting and delivery.

I regularly talk to schoolchildren about what I do through our schools engagement programmes and I quite often by explaining that it all started with an X-box – ears usually prick up at this point and it then allows me to explain how my love for technology has helped and supported my career within construction – I then highlight some of the local buildings it has helped to deliver and it plants the seed that maybe the construction isn’t quite as current perceptions would suggest.

I am excited by what technology will continue to bring to this industry and I am determined to showcase this to others.”