BILT ANZ 2017 Chairman’s Wrap

Only two weeks ago, I had the privilege of chairing the first ever BILT ANZ 2017. It has been something of a whirlwind, in that despite it being a three-day event, it came and went so quickly. From the feedback we have received so far, it was well-received and ran very smoothly.

While there’s plenty of room for growth in the new streams (being construction and estimation), numbers were a definite improvement on last year at our last-ever RTC AUS in NSW Hunter Valley.  It’s been interesting looking back at what we’d set out to achieve (as flagged in the RTC AUS 2016 event wrap-up), compared to what we did achieve.  Overall numbers were good, and it was great to finally host the event in Adelaide, at the Adelaide Convention Centre.  Apart from a few issues with the A/C, the venue performed well; the first time we’ve held the event at a Convention Centre rather than a hotel.  There was a difference to past events that many remarked upon, despite it being early days for the change from RTC to BILT.

I really enjoyed the Speaker/Sponsor function at the Adelaide Oval on the eve of the event. The Phil Ridings room looks over the ground, and those attending were buzzing with excitement. I’d like to thank all the speakers and sponsors for their support, as they are an integral part of the event.


Day 1: Thursday

Historically, RTC has struggled to start on time, but BILT managed this on the first attempt! After a brief intro and welcome from yours truly, our keynote speaker, Dr. Louise Mahler proved both educational and entertaining, sharing with us about how important it was for us to be effective communicators and the importance of vocal intelligence. There was evidence aplenty that old habits are hard to break. Thanks to all those who volunteered, helping to provide us with some truly ‘memorable moments’.  Who could forget the ‘John Wayne’, the ‘Flashing figleaf’ and other key terms?  It’s the first time I think we’ve ever had a plenary audience singing, let alone in chorus and in tune!

We had eight concurrent sessions for the rest of the day, evidencing our growth and commitment to providing valuable content for a broader audience demographic. We ran two computer labs using VDI, courtesy of HVE Connections – which ran like clockwork. I must thank the wider team who contributed to this success.

Other session highlights and popular sessions  for day 1 included Educating the Educators presented by Glenn Jowett, Modelling for Linear Infrastructure presented by Dale Harrison, Your BIM is only as good as your content – manage it presented by Mark Abrahams, Modern Methods of Construction by Damien Crough, and a panel discussion Is BIM dead?

In the afternoon we heard from Autodesk with their view of BIM in the future, and in a move away from tradition, we did not have a Glorious Gadgets plenary session.  Instead we heard from Daniel Davis, Director of Product Research at WeWork – on Building at Scale.  WeWork’s ability to leverage good data to drive great commercial and design decisions was a lesson to all about how businesses can thrive in the digital age.

Our exhibition hall hosted the first night’s social event.  To quote one of our exhibitors:  “the Sponsors hall was well set-out, never squashed but not so spacious that it left everybody wondering where the real party was at”.  Apparently, for the event’s sponsor, dRofus, it was just spacious enough for a ‘golf tournament’.


Day 2: Friday

Day 2 saw the formal kick-off of our Estimation Stream, assembled to help give the quantity surveyors and estimators a voice; and a seat at the (event) table. For a good while they’ve been absent from the event but often also from the project team table when BIM is under discussion. Historically, this is an opportunity missed, and we want to play a part in changing this. A good number of sessions shed light on related challenges and solutions in relation to this. Stay tuned for more from us and the AIQS on this front.

Other session highlights and popular sessions  for day 2 included BIM Project Delivery and Procurement Strategy presented by Lucy Guerin, proving there is a huge appetite for project management focused classes (even at 8.30am), Revit Macros, Dynamo or the API presented by Mark Cronin (where extra chairs had to be brought it) and Fluxilicious presented by Paul Wintour.

Friday evening saw us visit the South Australia Museum, and it was enjoyed by all. By coincidence, it was also National Sorry Day, and it was highly appropriate to hear from Haydyn Bromley who addressed us, and provided a personal tour of the aboriginal exhibition currently on, at the Museum.


Day 3: Saturday

Saturday classes didn’t slow down and it was great to see classes busy all day.  Popular classes for Day 3 included Building an Amusement Park presented by Graham Allan and the double session Busting Change Management Myths presented by Mark Jeffrey (with a video cameo from Dan Jurgens).

The Gala Dinner was an opportunity for everyone to let their perms and mullets down and don their best 1980s outfits.  The lighting and decorations really added to the theming, and everyone I saw enjoyed the night.  Movies, music and fashion were the main inspirations for those who dressed up.  If you’re keen to look back at yourself or check out the outfits on display, head to our image gallery for the event.

For those interested in the Autodesk Revit certification exams (sponsored by CADLearning), we had a total of 49 people who sat the exams, and a pass rate of 65.3%.  Last year we had a slightly higher pass rate, but fewer people who attempted.  Spending time reading the preparatory material does increase your chances of passing.



In  all, we had 88 speakers and co-speakers across the 96 sessions – higher than usual, but in many cases reflecting complementary perspectives on topics, and testament to the fact that we can be more effective when working with others.

Feedback survey links have been sent out to all BILT ANZ attendees, and as always, we welcome honest feedback on all manner of topics about the event.  We have a AU$1,000 voucher up for grabs for one lucky respondent, so please do make the effort – it’s important to us.

While we’re less than 12 months out from next  year, so now is an opportune time to start thinking up ideas for abstracts to submit.  I’ve already heard from several people about their great ideas – and how they can play a part in growing this community and positively impacting industry.  Many were focused on active evidence of collaboration and outcomes between designers and downstream parties.  We’ll be expecting more abstracts for sessions focused on construction, and cost management.  We’ll also be looking at what other new content is needed to support industry.

I’d like to publicly thank Harriet Cottam, Mili Goswami, Camilla Connolly and the rest of the ‘HQ’ team at RTC Events Management.  They work tirelessly and are an integral part of the event’s success.  The BILT ANZ committee (and the visiting international committee) have again been fantastic this year, and  the entire team was back at it the day after the event debriefing and commencing preparations for next year’s event.


Next year

BILT ANZ 2018 will be held at RICC in Brisbane. I’m genuinely excited about it already, given the momentum building in our new streams, and the various industry initiatives and client-led changes that will be able to be showcased by this time.  Stay tuned for further announcements in the coming months in relation to invitations to submit abstracts.

On reflection, I’m rapt that our change to BILT has been received so well. Many people came up to me personally to tell me so, which was both humbling and validating.

The composition of our community is changing, but the enthusiasm and passion of those within it remains. The earnestness of those who contribute to it is evident, and the team who put it together remain committed to supporting and positively impacting industry.

I sincerely thank all those who attended and/or supported BILT ANZ 2017.  I look forward to seeing you and many others in Brisbane next year, May 26-28.


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