Meet Dana Erdman, CD-BIM, and Director of Technology and Innovation at Bulley & Andrews (B&A). While the company uses Matterport in their day-to-day operations, she shares the innovative way they leveraged the technology to help prepare employees to return to work in a post-COVID world. Dana also tells us about her surprising journey to B&A, and gives advice to women who are interested in breaking into the construction industry. Follow her on LinkedIn.
You’re the Director of Technology and Innovation at Bulley & Andrews. Tell us about your work and how you got into this field.
Typically, I think most people would point to their college degree as the explanation here, but my degree is in Theatre Arts Management. I never once pictured myself working for a construction company. I had a variety of really odd jobs once I graduated college; I sold mattresses and worked as a scout for a talent agency. I was trying to figure out the theatre scene, but it was really hard to feel settled and find purpose.
I was always into technology. I was one of the first kids in school to get a computer at home. I started downloading music off of Napster and Limewire. I figured out how to get around the AOL dial-up loop. I was interested in learning more about computers, about how they work, and what they could do.
I ended up at a temp agency after my foray in odd jobs and was hired for an administrative position at Bulley & Andrews (B&A). I worked my way up from there.
I wanted to learn as much as I could from anyone who was willing to give me the time of day. I didn’t know construction, but I knew technology and I knew hard work, and I used that to help not only push myself forward, but the company forward as well.
How did Bulley & Andrews use Matterport for their office re-opening. Are there any other ways the company uses our platform that you would like to share?
During the shelter in place orders, our company communication was a top priority. It was important that people felt engaged to each other and the company they work for. Once the orders were lifted, B&A began to formulate a plan to reintroduce our employees back to the office.
Our leadership team knew we had to be transparent and over communicate the changes people would experience. Matterport helped us do just that by illustrating the health and safety protocols we put in place, including new room capacities, flow protocols and furniture reconfiguration to enable employees to social distance.
What successes have you realized as a result of the deployment?
Having a complete scan of our space is useful for so many reasons - from onboarding new employees, documenting changes and learning new ways we can be helpful to others in the industry and beyond. We’ve also implemented best practices for scanning (our building was challenging given the number of windows). For example, by sharing our knowledge with Mattertags, we can share our lessons learned from our own building scan to help our clients and partners find success in their own projects.
What advice would you give to women trying to break into this industry? What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I recognize there are challenges for women in any industry. But as a traditionally, male-dominated one, construction is particularly difficult. However, it’s important to note that within the last few years, support and encouragement for women to become involved in this industry has been stronger than ever and leadership positions haven’t looked as diverse as they do now.
In order to be successful in the industry at large, construction firms recognize that they have to be diverse and inclusive.
If you’re trying to break into the industry, know your voice matters and you are needed. Don’t be discouraged by your gender. Be an advocate for yourself. Be confident in your work. Ask for help when you need it. Ask for more responsibility when you crave it. Speak up when you aren’t being treated fairly. And find mentors throughout your career that will fight for you. Find groups that’ll support you, inspire you and listen to you - ones that you can also learn from. I’ve found this sense of encouragement and community through NAWIC and B&A’s own Women’s Group.
Anything else you would like to add?
The construction industry is going to change because of partners like Matterport that are willing to listen to their clients. We have to remain agile and ready to move, to change and react to our client’s needs, solve what keeps them up at night and drive their goals.
We have to remain open to new ideas and find inspiration everywhere. We must be willing to fail, and then learn. We must keep moving forward.
Enjoy walking through The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, courtesy of Bulley & Andrews.