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[INTERVIEW] "BIM Professionals need to have a certain degree of enthusiasm, but also pragmatism and endurance"

We interviewed Mark Baldwin, author of the book 'The BIM Manager'

Published: 18/04/2018

Country: United Kingdom
In our “Book’s day” and, particularly, “BIM books” tribute, a Twitter contest has been organised by BIM Community. This has been achieved thanks to internationally renowned authors such as Viero Hernández, Luisa Santamaría, Stefan Mordue and Mark Baldwin. Find out more about the initiative here!

We wanted to know more about our BIM experts, that in addition of participating as juries, will give one book as a gift to their prefered participant.. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to ask them a few questions. The second member of the jury is Mark Baldwin, author of  'The BIM Manager', who will introduce the content that readers of the book will find in its pages and reveal the secrets of this new profile called BIM Manager. 

BC: Who is Mark Baldwin?

MB: I am an Australian architect and have been heavily involved with building information modelling since 2005. As an architect, BIM-Manager and now as a consultant, I have worked on major BIMprojects around the world. Although BIM is now the main focus of my work, I wouldn’t call myself a technology enthusiast! I like technologies that are smart, simple and user-friendly, but I am not someone who likes to tinker and get lost in the detail. My approach is to work swiftly and pragmatically, always keeping the project in focus. I am passionate about BIM - but as a means to an end, not an end to itself! 

Currently I am based in Switzerland, working primarily with design and construction firms, to support them in implementing BIM in their organizations. I am also very involved with buildingSMART and I am leading the buildingSMART international program for Professional Certification.

BC: Who is the target audience off The BIM-Manager’ and what will the readers find in the pages?

MB: The BIM Manager is written for construction industry professional who are engaged with BIM implementation at all levels. This is relevant both for implementing BIM within an organization, but also for initiating BIM in a project. There is also a lot of content in the book for people who have already been working for some years in the area. 

The intention of the book is to remove much of the misconception and misunderstanding around BIM and present a concrete and structured way of working. This is based on the latest international standards and best practices. I think the book will also find an audience in students who are looking for a general introduction to BIM. The book contains ten case study projects and several guest contributions.

BC: We hear a lot about the BIM Manager, but what are the main features of this role and what can we expect from it?

MB: The role of the BIM Manager is not universally agreed upon. Generally, the term is used to refer to the individual who leads the process within an organization. However, a BIM Manager can also be a project role. Sometimes it is used to refer to the person managing the entire BIM process within a project (BIM Project Management. Other times it is used to refer to the ‘BIM Representative’ from each organization within the project. In either case, the BIM Manager must be a generalist. He or she must have technical competencies, management and leadership skills and have a strong construction background.

BC: How is the role of a BIM Manager changing while the BIM methodology is conquering the AEC industry?

MB: In the early years, the BIM Manager was thought of simply as the ‘CAD Manager 2.0’. Around 5- 8 years ago, as BIM was sold to as the silver bullet for the construction industry, the BIM Manager had to be a magician – able to do everything… and immediately. More recently, as the understanding of BIM has normalised, the industry recognises that BIM is just an added competency to our existing skill set. Currently we are seeing various BIM roles emerging; Information Manager, BIM Coordinator. In the long term, most of these roles will just disappear. I don’t see BIM being a long-term specialist job. For the short term we need ‘BIM Professionals’, but in the long term it will be just business as usual.

BC: What do you think are the most important skills or knowledge for the professionals that want to start with BIM?

MB: The necessary skills change as the industries matures. At the moment I think BIM Professionals need to have a certain degree of enthusiasm, but also pragmatism and endurance. Right now, BIM is hard work. It will get easier as the market develops. But at the moment BIM professionals need to be both inspired (and inspiring) and to have perseverance to handle difficulties as they arise.

BC: In your opinion, what are the key points of a successful BIM implementation?

VW: The most critical factor to determine success is, without a doubt, strategic planning. There is an old saying: If I had one hour to cut a tree down, I would spend the first three-quarters of an hour sharpening my axe. So, sharpen your BIM axe, before you start! This involves engaging all levels of an organisation, from senior management down to operations. It is also important to have realistic and measurable goals and to set mini-milestones. This means focussing on short- term goals and enjoying little successes to report back to the organisation.

BC: The digitalization has provided the AEC sector a lot of challenges, which ones do you think can be the most important ones and how can we face them correctly?

MB: It sounds a bit cliché, but I really think the greatest challenge that we face with digitalisation is the human factor. In the first instance, this relates to the mental shift needed to actuate change. We are our greatest hindrance. Technology is already well developed and as we move forward technology will continue to develop. However, at the same time the human factor is essential for healthy growth. We cannot sit passively. We need to remain active in driving technological development and we must remain mindful of the consequences that these developments may have.

The BIM Manager

The BIM Manager is published by Beuth Verlag (Berlin) in association with buildingSMART Germany and Man and Machine. The Germany version is now available for order, with an English version to be published in August. A Spanish and Japanese version are also planned for later this year. More information can be found at

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