We need leadership to celebrate the successes and achievements of the construction industry and show the world what needs to change to ensure that this is an industry fit for the future. At the centre of so much change, we need to rethink the way that we do things.

Robert Toon, BIM Coordinator, in our Regional Building North West business tells us here about why he set up ‘This is Change’, how he wants to see the construction industry grow and adapt, and what it means to have held the first This is Change event.

When I look around the industry for leadership, I see some great work trying to tackle the issues of skills shortages, diversity in the industry as well as mental health. There are also pockets of great work in driving the adoption of new technologies and BIM but we need to see much more of this.

Rather than appreciating these little pockets of success, we need to work together to truly transform the industry and inspire change.

I’ve always had an interest in the future of the industry and where it is heading and, towards the end of 2018, I decided I was going to take action and find a way to play a bigger part in transforming the sector. By bringing together leaders from across the construction industry to share best practice, innovation and thought leadership, I felt we could have a chance at joining up all the areas where great work is happening.

Earlier this year I developed This is Change with the idea of creating a series of short, sharp talks, for people to find out more easily what is great about our industry.

With the support of Kier Regional Building North West, the CIOB, the UK BIM Alliance, Edison365 and WeWork, we held the first event in Manchester on 25th September 2019.

The event, which was held in Manchester, aimed to provide attendees with a broad view of the challenges the industry faces whilst celebrating the work we do on a daily basis.

The content we covered on the night was hard-hitting and relevant for the current challenges facing the industry with topics ranging from diversity and inclusion to innovation and entrepreneurship. It was great to hear from different speakers including:

• Jack Selman, Innovation Manager at J Murphy & Sons, who talked about innovation in the industry
• Becky Lodge, Sky News 100 women finalist, an author, B2B influencer and founder of Little Kanga, Hampshire Meet the Buyer and Start-up Disruptors. Becky spoke about her journey to finding acceptance as a woman in a male dominated industry
• Mike Banton, Founder and MD of Artez Group. Mike talked about his journey to forming one of the fastest growing construction companies in the North West and how his ‘non-conventional’ approach to tendering and work winning has led to his success
• Luke Ives, Founder and Chair of the North West’s Building Equality Group. Luke spoke about his battles with gender and sexual orientation stereotypes and the challenges with setting up a group such as Building Equality
• Chrissi McCarthy, founder of Constructing Equality and The Duck Project spoke about her businesses and how she aims to target fairness within organisations.

By highlighting the areas we need to change, and celebrating the amazing work we do, we hope to change the perception of the industry and show some leadership to help improve the industry.

This was very much a trial run with the format, venue and content untested. But, the first This is Change event went well and the response before and after the event was incredibly humbling. With over 160 people signing up to be a part of this first event, it shows that with the right message and enough enthusiasm, you can start to have an impact on an industry.

The aim of This is Change is to continue to hold these events, inviting amazing thought leaders from across the industry to talk about topics they are subject matter experts in.

To encourage the sharing of best practice in our industry, the talks will continue to be filmed and shared via social media following the event to allow anyone to view and discuss the topics covered. We are also in the process of building a website where the videos and content can be shared, we hope that this website can become a hub for lessons learnt, innovation and best practice from across the industry.

The next steps are to hold another event early in the new year to keep the momentum up and keep the conversation going.

There are a couple of simple ways you can get involved:

• Follow us on social media
• Contact us to speak at an event
• Contact us if you would like to contribute a blog
• Look out for future events and attend

It is amazing to see how a little idea to try and transform the industry can make such an impact in such a short space of time. I am so excited to get started on launching the next event in the New Year. Watch this space!


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