Rebecca De Cicco, Digital Node Founder and Director, tells us what inspired her to take up a career in construction and how the global coronavirus outbreak has impacted on her business. For Rebecca, resilience means positivity, and having the ability to evolve and embrace change are the key factors to success and business longevity.
Here we gain insight into Rebecca’s predictions for the year ahead: a preview of what Rebecca will be discussing in her panel debate on resilience during the covid crisis, with four other business leaders spanning the world of architecture, engineering and construction.
Did you always plan to work in the construction industry?
For me I always wanted to be professionally qualified. I wanted to study medicine but was terrible with some of the subjects in school which prevented me from studying those areas, such as chemistry. I found that I was better placed to move into either engineering or architecture. My first selection at university was Civil Engineering but I landed a placement at the University of South Australia Bachelor of Architecture school. I owe my move to construction to my father who always worked in the industry and he encouraged me to explore my passion for Construction.
When did your career in construction begin?
After graduating, I worked in a very small architectural firm in Adelaide designing cellar doors and small renovations to wineries in South Australia. It was exciting and I was always interested in how some of the technologies I used could influence the design of spaces and buildings. For me, my passion in technology seemed to somewhat override my passion for design, and with this in mind I tended to explore new ways of thinking and new ways of using technology to be more productive and alter the way a building could be imagined.
What inspired you to start your own training and consultancy business?
Digital Node as it is today was an evolution of the idea of ‘Conceptual Node’, which was a small consultancy in Australia that I founded offering digital support to construction industry professionals back in 2002 when I lived in Australia. Conceptual Node evolved as a business idea to Digital Node, which was a response to the work I was undertaking in the UK and the growing need industry-wide for knowledge in the implementation of new digital construction methodologies. Having lived and worked in the UK for many years, there was a great opportunity to continue my passion to start my own business and evolve the original business idea into something more mature. I therefore set about creating a business to support industry on three fronts: education in BIM, strategic implementation and project management.
What are currently working on?
We currently have a variety of live projects, some of which are training and education focused and others project based.
We work in three streams which include support on a strategic, technical and project focused front. In our education and training division of the business we offer support and guidance to education providers both tertiary and industry focused as well as develop and create bespoke training for large organisations worldwide. Our work in education is also about supporting businesses in strategically building company wide capacity in BIM and Digital Construction by developing strategies which assess existing skills across a business and how to develop these.
Over the past few months, and as we enter a new year, we are working with clients in multiple regions, supporting both UK and International businesses and groups, such as British Standards Institute (BSI) Asia Pacific and the Chartered institute of Building (CIOB) .
Thinking about the Construction Industry at large, what do you believe has been the biggest change in the past 10 years?
Sadly, as an industry we have traditionally tended to work in silos, and are overly obsessed by lowering costs which in turn can mean projects suffer from poor quality. This, combined with a lack of appreciation on how digital process and technology is changing, makes for one of the most poorly evolved industries. However, this is slowly changing, with pockets of innovation existing across different areas globally we can see a clear path for universal digital adoption.
Given the current situation with the coronavirus crisis worldwide, how has this impacted on your business?
Like so many businesses, the coronavirus crisis has impacted us in different ways. We have seen a hold put in place on some of our training and consultancy work. However, we have also seen some positive benefits to consulting in a digital space, with more acceptance on our involvement on projects regardless of where we physically reside. From our offices in Australia for example, we are delivering projects in the UK, USA and China.
As part of our wider philosophy, as does technology, at Digital Node we are constantly evolving and enhancing our business offering with new digital processes and products. By doing so it enables us to introduce new products and services to our clients and grow our business. This alongside keeping up to date with industry standards, has allowed us to help our clients build on their capability and capacity despite a global pandemic.
What do you predict for the future of the construction industry over the next 12 months in regards to bouncing back from the coronavirus crisis?
2021 will still be challenging for many businesses, but as I mentioned above, working on a global scale will no longer be an issue (if you can be at your desk at the right times!). It’s a global problem, we are all trying to run our businesses and be profitable, and offering our services and evolved services in 2021 will be key to bouncing back from the pandemic.
Rebecca De Cicco was joined by a panel of other global AEC industry specialists for a discussion on resilience and business leadership on Thursday 28 January. To hear more from Rebecca and how to position your business to successfully defeat coronavirus, watch a recording of the panel debate.