November 17, 2023 | 4 min read
At BIM Academy we are fortunate to have fascinating conversations with many insightful people around the world, and in our Digital Climate podcast series, we invite people to give us their predictions on where the construction industry is headed, particularly when it comes to fighting climate change.
In our current series, “Don’t fear the future”, Dr Graham Kelly host and BIM Academy Managing Director, focuses on future-thinking, and looking ahead to technology solutions that will help combat the climate change crisis. In Graham’s words, we must always consider the human element – people are driving the future of technology, not the other way round – and our next guest is certainly ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative technology.
In the most recent episode of the series, Graham talks with Sam Stacey, former Challenger Director of Transforming Construction and current CEO of Stacx International. Graham asks Sam about his captivating career history and delves into his specialisms in innovation.
Sam said that he has always had a real enthusiasm for the built environment, going way back to his childhood, which followed him into his studies: “I studied architecture – combined with philosophy – at Cambridge. And coming out of that, rather than going ahead and wanting to practice architecture, I wanted to learn more about other facets of how we make buildings. So that took me to Imperial College to study civil engineering.
“I went on to work with Buro Happold for a few years, working on some really exciting projects in the Middle East and across Europe. Then I ran my own business for a few years, building and developing – getting a real sense of the other end of the spectrum, the entrepreneurial end! And honestly, I don’t think I got the formula quite right at that time, so I went to work at Wates, really getting deeper into design management and seeing the potential of joining the dots within the construction industry, addressing this sort of silo phenomenon within the industry, and bringing that together, a good blend of contracting and consulting.
“Wates very generously put me through an MBA course at Henley Business School and that’s when I got really inspired about innovation in construction.
“A few years on in 2018, the opportunity came up to lead the transforming construction challenge for the UK government. That was the implementation of the sector deal for construction as part of the UK’s industrial strategy, which was just a fantastic opportunity, an opportunity to bring together, I would say, so many of the strands of what I’d been interested in and what I’d learned from my career thus far.
“That was a four year project and coming out of it (in 2022), I was really excited about the opportunities that we’d revealed and tested, and I was on a mission to propagate those ideas around the world. So, I set up Stacx International through which I have been working with a number of overseas organisations and governments, particularly in Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Middle Eastern.”
Graham then steers the conversation to what are the drivers for technology and innovation, and how are these helping our industry to become more sustainable? Sam said: “I think humans like to see things in terms of narrative. What’s the story here? What’s the goal? What’s the mission? What can we really get emotionally involved in? And you see climate related disasters on TV and on the news and it resonates. And what I find exciting is that we can get involved in addressing that. We can get involved in doing something about that. One of the weird things I notice is you get some sort of naysayers out there say, oh, we musn’t upset the young people and give them a gloomy outlook on the future by telling them about climate change. I mean, it’s completely the opposite, as far as I’m concerned. We’re here in the world. We’ve got a responsibility to look after our planet, so let’s get to it.
“I think the future involves different players coming into the construction space. I think that we should attract entrepreneurs from other sectors, and we should attract new investors – innovation has the power to be transformative, but we need to act now. Time for talking is over.”
To hear more from Sam and how he is successfully embedding sustainability into construction, listen to the full podcast.
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