A Journey of Resilience and Innovation in BIM
Shameemah Davids, synonymous with a “Human-centric approach to Technology,” has not only paved her path in digital transformation and BIM but has also emerged as a beacon of inspiration. Her journey through these realms stands as a testament to her capacity to nurture personal growth and empower others. Baker Baynes, with the support of Autodesk, proudly bestows upon her the title of the “Extraordinary Woman in BIM” for 2023, a well-deserved accolade that reflects her outstanding contributions and unwavering commitment to the field.
The “Celebrating Women in BIM and the Digital Built Environment” campaign was established by Baker Baynes to honour individuals who embody the core attributes driving change and innovation in the field of BIM & Digital Construction, have walked their own BIM journey and are recognised for their success in pushing boundaries, overcoming obstacles and inspiring others to embrace, adopt and thrive in BIM.
Baker Baynes wants to celebrate these BIM Champions who are trailblazing and leading the charge with their visionary contributions.
The esteemed panel of judges, consisting of Anien Nauta – Senior BIM Model Coordination Manager at AECOM, Dr. Calayde Davey – BIM Visionary and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Architecture at University of Pretoria, Jani Viljoen, BIM Counsellor and Professional Services Director at Baker Baynes and Lilanie Lotter, BIM Manager at CAPEX Projects, meticulously evaluated nominees based on their prowess in BIM and their ability to inspire. Shameemah Davids emerged as a standout nominee, and here’s why.
Anien Nauta: “Shameemah exemplifies the essence of BIM expertise, serving as a leader, mentor, and trailblazer in the field. Her continuous excellence as a BIM champion makes her a genuine source of inspiration.”
Dr. Calayde Davey: “She exemplifies the full spectrum of the field, from technical to leadership. She is an inspiration. My students are still talking about being inspired by her at speaking engagement from BIMHarambee 2023!”
Lilanie Lotter: “Shameemah Davids is a truly remarkable woman. She is an inspiring leader, mentor and wholehearted friend with a contagious humorous energy and zest for life. She doesn’t know BIM, she is BIM. Her dedication to excellence motivates and sets the standard for the next generation of BIM Leaders.”
Jani Viljoen: “Shameemah encapsulates all aspects of what I think a BIM Guru should have. She’d done the hands-on project work, content creation and model management, and she’s been influential in students’ lives through her training and led the coordination and digital delivery of projects. Her attitude toward problem-solving is something to aspire to and on top of that, she’s just a really nice person.”
A Path of Resilience and Inspiration
Shameemah’s journey is an extraordinary tale of resilience and determination, rooted in her profound passion for architecture. As a student, she encountered distinctive challenges, including the absence of access to a computer for practice in a field where Computer-Aided Design was gaining prominence over traditional drawing boards. However, Shameemah’s indomitable commitment drove her to innovative solutions. She bartered her time and skills for access to her peers’ computers, took additional AutoCAD lessons beyond her regular classes, and worked part-time to save for her first laptop – an antique by contemporary standards but a testament to her determination to rise above and succeed.
During her internship at a forward-thinking architectural practice, Shameemah went above and beyond, being the sole student to volunteer on weekends to map out an informal settlement alongside her project lead. This real-world experience profoundly influenced her career, highlighting her willingness to venture beyond the ordinary.
It was these early experiences that instilled in her a profound understanding of the human factor in technology – recognizing that everyone learns differently and that persistence and perseverance ultimately prevail.
A ‘Poster Child’ for Digital Transformation in BIM
Shameemah Davids is not just an outstanding professional; she is a ‘poster child’ for Digital Transformation in BIM in South Africa. She has harnessed technology, including Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC), to foster collaboration and lead projects on a global scale. Leading projects and a team on a different continent while being based in South Africa would be a daunting challenge for most, but Shameemah’s ability to navigate complex projects, leverage her team’s strengths, and develop BIM Best Practices for significant impact is nothing short of remarkable.
Wise sentiments from Shameemah, “In the world of BIM, collaboration is key. Together, we can push boundaries and drive innovation.”
Nurturing Growth Through Challenges
In the face of adversity, Shameemah’s passion for BIM remained undiminished. Her career is punctuated with milestones that underscore her unwavering commitment to growth and learning. It is her resilience and dedication that have enabled her to transform obstacles into stepping stones along her remarkable journey.
These milestones include:
- Architectural Student: Mastering CAD resourcefully without a computer. Learning from the problems students encountered in learning AutoCAD to teach herself how to use the programme effectively when volunteering as an Assistant to the CAD Lab Tutor.
- Architectural Technologist at 26’10 South Architects & Urban Designers: Successfully managed the Fordsburg Subway project team, comprising of students and artists, through the technical drawing and installation stages of a selected South African heritage artwork. Was a part of the team who managed community engagement and planning exercises for informal settlement improvement initiatives in Johannesburg. Produced timely council, construction, detail, and graphics drawings. Gathered informative technical research, assisted in event management, and handled client management and administration.
- Snr. Architectural Technologist at Peter Cohen Architect: Produced accurate working and council drawings for large-scale residential housing projects. Provided clients with graphic images and models, and liaised with engineers and site managers to ensure timely project delivery.
- Part-time lecturer at University of Johannesburg: Guided first and third-year architecture students through the principles of AutoCAD, Photoshop, SketchUp, and Revit. Developed students’ computer skills and marked portfolios and assignments.
- BIM Manager at Stauch Vorster Architects – SVA International: Implemented efficient Revit Architecture workflows, data management, and staff upskilling. Collaborated on company BIM and collaboration protocols.
- Autodesk Application Engineer at an Autodesk Reseller: Provided technical and business consulting in Building Information Modelling (BIM), including process assessments, training, implementation, mentoring, and support for best practices.
- Part-time Lecturer at University of the Witwatersrand: Taught Revit and BIM Methodologies for three years to university students. This remit included in person teaching and the development of custom online content and datasets to meet the university’s course requirements encompassing informed design decision making underpinned by building performance analysis.
- Discipline BIM Lead at AECOM: Managed the digital delivery teams for large scale complex multidisciplinary projects across various sectors such as retail, healthcare high-rise residential, datacentres, oil & gas (service stations), infrastructure (rail) and sports (Lesotho Sports Stadium).
- Digital Lead at AECOM: Currently leading digital adoption and strategy across Europe and India, emphasising team support and enablement through effective and efficient use of technology, processes, and procedures. To ensure our digital transformation initiatives are aligned from executive leadership to project level.
Shaping the Path Ahead
As Shameemah looks to the future, her vision extends beyond her individual journey. She envisions the evolution of BIM in the industry, particularly in South Africa, and remains committed to driving positive change. Her unwavering dedication to growth and transformation continues to inspire those around her.
Her advice to Emerging BIM Champions is:
- Embrace Challenges: See challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.
- Continuous Learning: Stay curious and updated in the ever-evolving BIM field.
- Human-Centric Approach: Tailor technology to meet diverse needs and enhance the human experience.
- Collaboration Matters: Value teamwork and effective communication for innovative solutions.
- Lead by Example: Demonstrate initiative, strong work ethic, and dedication.
- Commit to Goals: Set clear objectives and persistently work toward achieving them.
- Share Knowledge: Mentor and support fellow professionals to promote industry growth.
- Stay Humble and Grateful: Approach success with humility and acknowledge the support of mentors and colleagues.
Shameemah Davids shares “The journey of growth never ends. My aspiration is to continue learning and sharing knowledge, fostering a community where BIM thrives.”
A Beacon for the Future
In conclusion, Shameemah Davids embodies the spirit of excellence in BIM and the Digital Built Environment. Her journey reflects the power of resilience, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of growth.
“Shameemah Davids, the winner of ‘Extraordinary Woman in BIM’ 2023 embodies the spirit of innovation and excellence that drives our industry forward. Her journey is a beacon of inspiration, reminding us that true leadership and dedication can reshape the future of BIM. We celebrate her remarkable achievements and unwavering commitment to growth.” – Richard Smedley-Williams, CEO of Baker Baynes and Executive Director of BIMComUNITY.Africa