Analysis

Women of BIM part 4: Adriana Sobral

8 March 2021

Welcome to the final interview in our series marking today, International Women’s Day. Adriana Sobral is a senior BIM coordinator at Bouygues, working on a £240m regeneration scheme in Canning Town, east London. She is also a Women in BIM mentee. Having graduated in architecture in Brazil in 2014, she moved to the UK in 2018. Here she details her passion for BIM and her interest in Hypar and Dana De Filippi.

I developed an interest in new ways of using technology, and adopting BIM appeared to be the game changer for digitalisation of workflows.– Adriana Sobral, Bouygues UK

Why did you choose BIM as a career?

During the first years of my career, I remember having a strong feeling of frustration after spending long hours executing repetitive and dull tasks in AutoCAD to produce drawings and design documentation. After 10 years working with AutoCAD, and being aware of alternative ways to produce parametric 3D models that automatically update drawings, I decided to learn Revit and that was my first step into the BIM world.

I then developed a particular interest in new ways of using technology to increase productivity, and adopting BIM appeared to me to be the game changer for digitalisation of design and construction workflows. Fascinated by the benefits that BIM can bring to the project environment, I became passionate about it, deep dived into the topic and it naturally became a career path.

What's been your biggest professional challenge and how did you overcome it?

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and that was not an exception for me. Starting a new job on a major regeneration scheme at initial phases of construction during the first lockdown meant that I had to hit the ground running without having the opportunity to engage with new colleagues in person.  

On top of the usual new starter challenges, I also had to work on a different way to build relationships. But as teams have had to rely entirely on technology to adapt workflows to a working from home scenario, I have embraced the opportunity to proactively work on BIM improvements for the project and help the design team to collaborate more effectively and efficiently. This not only provided me with the opportunity to have an impact, but also to build meaningful relationships within the team.

Which digital innovation in the past year has caught your eye and why?

The cloud-based platform Hypar drew attention at its launch, and in 2020 it continued to push the boundaries of knowledge sharing in construction, attracting more attention for its ability to quickly generate hundreds of design options based on a collaborative repository of building knowledge and expertise.

It is common knowledge in the industry that starting projects from a blank page is among the toughest tasks. By providing earlier insights for key decision making, Hypar is here to prove to us all that starting a project from scratch can be a much faster process than using the lengthy traditional methods. It is another platform that has a great potential to free our human talent of repetitive tasks, allowing us to focus on problems that require creativity and higher-level thinking.

Name another woman in BIM who you think is doing great work and why.

As an enthusiast of the deployment of automation in design workflows, I really appreciate the work of the Dynamo all-star and the BIMThoughts podcast co-host Dana De Filippi. Dana’s passion for technology and for sharing knowledge is not only very useful, but also very inspiring.

Through podcasts and posts on Twitter and LinkedIn, Dana is always sharing amazing tips and tricks, workflows and promoting exciting BIM contents.

And I think that this is one of the best aspects about the BIM community: the learning and sharing of technology. There is an exciting environment of continuous improvement in which professionals are constantly sharing new workflows, scripts, solutions and tutorials online. And it’s great to see interesting contributions from women like Dana.

I hope that as construction adopts new technologies and new ways of working, old stigmas and labels will be left behind, giving space to a more diverse workforce.– Adriana Sobral, Bouygues UK

In your experience, is BIM more diverse than the wider construction industry and if so, how does this affect the working culture?

From my experience in the UK, what I have noticed is that the BIM field attracts a slightly greater diversity of backgrounds than the wider construction industry. It has taken a long time to reach the current levels of diversity in the wider industry and there is still a long way to go. If I were to list the benefits of having diverse teams, the stimulating working culture that results from the assortment of talents would be at the top.

Diverse environments allow teams and organisations to grow more solidly, creatively and innovate faster, and this is not different for BIM teams. For a sector that relies on innovation and collaboration, there is no better environment than a diverse atmosphere of unique talents that can provide distinctive contributions and insights.

How can the industry attract more women?

I believe that the industry can overcome some of the existing barriers by having more women in high-profile roles, having supportive groups as Women in BIM and by investing in innovation and digitalisation.

By having more women in leadership positions, career paths are promoted to the younger generations of women that will aspire to have such rewarding career paths as well.

Groups like Women in BIM promote diversity and inclusion, can have a big impact on women’s confidence and inspire other women to yearn for growth and successful careers. They help to erode misconceptions and push women, helping them realise that they also have important contributions to make to the industry.

All industries that have gone through digital transformations have proved to be magnets for talents of diverse backgrounds. I hope that as construction digitises and evolves, adopting new technologies and new ways of working, old stigmas and labels will ultimately be left behind to give space to a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Who is the person in BIM that you turn to for inspiration/support and why?

Since my first contact with the Women in BIM group in 2018, I have always admired the work and efforts of one of its core team members, Vicki Reynolds. It is an invaluable opportunity to have been paired with this truly inspiring woman for the Women in BIM mentor scheme last year.

Despite the circumstances of the pandemic, we developed a good connection and I can confidently say that I received a very welcome extra dose of support to navigate through the professional challenges of 2020!

Vicki has an incredible capacity to connect empathetically and has a lot of experience in the industry. Having those qualities puts her in a very good position to provide supportive advice.

Read the previous interviews: