Careers

This much I know: ‘We’re in a perfect storm’

The rapid advance of technology offers positive challenges for Tim Carey, chief product director of Willmott Dixon’s integrated construction platform, Collida.

What made you go into construction?

I was bought Lego every Christmas as a child (I never did get that Castle Grayskull…). I‘d build the design properly and then use the same parts to put together something new. What Lego taught me was that – even while using standard blocks – the only limit to what you can create is your imagination.

What do you remember from your first project?

When I first graduated, in 1997, I produced logistic renders to support Mace Group’s construction of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Financial Centre, which is near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

To do this, I had to first build every element of the building in 3D using only AutoCAD R14 – looking back, I wish Revit had been invented at that time!

What was the best advice you were given?

“Buildings always get built.” This is a saying by Ip Wong, an architect I used to work with early on. I think that’s very true – as construction projects are often challenging, but I have great faith in our industry’s ability to overcome any obstacle and find innovative ways to respond.

Which project that you worked on are you most proud of?

I genuinely think the Collida Living prototype homes we are now building at the BRE are real proof that you can deliver affordable, highly sustainable housing using MMC. Achieving an airtightness of under 0.2 and delivering to the Passivhaus Plus standard was a really validating moment.

“What Lego taught me was that – even while using standard blocks – the only limit to what you can create is your imagination.”

Tim Carey, Collida

Producing a standard house faster than traditional approaches while only using 60% of traditional labour requirements is a real success story for Collida, which has implications for the wider industry.

I’m genuinely proud of its success and to play such a pivotal role as its chief product director.

What has changed the most about construction since you’ve been working in it?

I think the pace of change, which is no bad thing. It really feels like a perfect storm of rapidly evolving technology, demand – and the ongoing capacity crisis will ensure that we permanently change for the better.

What’s the most valuable training you’ve received and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to receive lots of training during my time at Willmott Dixon – both internally and externally. A highlight was our LEAD course at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, particularly its key message of “serve to lead”.

What advice would you give to someone starting in construction today?

Go for it. Construction is an amazing space in which to build a really rewarding career and, with the opportunity to really modernise our approaches through product thinking, digital solutions and factory-based manufacturing, I can’t think of a better time to join.

Do you have a motto that applies to your work and if so, what is it?

I’m a Spurs fan, so I guess I’ll appropriate theirs – “To Dare is to Do”!

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