BILT ANZ 2019 Chairman’s Wrap

Well, we’ve now completed our BILT ANZ 2019 event, and as much as this sounds like a cliché, I can honestly say it was a resounding success.  I was confident we’d have a good number attending, being in Melbourne, and indeed we did, with a record total of 626 registrations over the 3 days, and some of Melbourne’s finer weather (for this time of year, anyway).

The Crown Conference Centre was a great venue, if spread a little too much for our liking.  We did attempt to mitigate this with some changes to our traditional wayfinding (thanks to Leica for their point-cloud scanning of the venue), but there’s opportunities for us to do better with any future venues where we face similar challenges.  Next year’s venue will be easier to navigate – but more about that later.

Our event opened with a packed house in the main plenary hall, and we heard a sensational keynote message from Dr. Jordan Nguyen (sponsored by Newforma) about using technology to serve humanity, rather than the other way around.  He certainly made quite the impression, sparking many conversations for the remainder of the event.

One of the things I was very pleased to note about this event was that we had more women join us this year.  We’ve been making more of an effort (along with others) to attract more female delegates and speakers, and we saw a noticeable increase in the overall attendance figures as well as the proportion.  You can read more about my take on the gender diversity subject here: []

We had some very encouraging feedback on the event programme, with a broad variety of subjects, including a broader Business, Strategy and Leadership stream that has proven very popular in its growth over the last couple of years, and which complements the more traditional technical streams.  It’s part of our community learning to be more influential, and not just technically brilliant.

The street party on Thursday night worked well, and except for a little breeze, we enjoyed a pleasant night under the lights at South Wharf, courtesy of sponsor Veris.

We had a second keynote on Friday morning – the energetic and relatable Mark ‘Dobbo’ Dobson. Sponsored by Cloud A2K, his message focused on ‘Influence for Implementation’, providing simple and effective ways for each of those present to increase their influence in both their personal and professional lives.  Mark presented two other ‘regular’ sessions at this event, and in his first year has had quite the impact on the program.

2019 was our first year with Katherine Mair (of M.A.D Mindworks) as our speaker coach, taking seven speakers under her wing and helping them with material and delivery.  Feedback on this as a concept from those speakers was all extremely positive, and 2020 will be even better again.  It seemed fitting that Katherine was rated the top speaker spot for BILT ANZ 2019, and I’m pleased to confirm she’ll be coaching speakers again in 2020.

It seems that the change to BILT (from RTC before it), evidenced by the changes to the program (not just the event name) is proving fruitful.  Our audience is growing in breadth as well as in overall size, and we had better representation from those downstream of architects and engineers within the project lifecycle.  To that end, it’s great to have them involved in the presentations and discussions that follow – allowing more rounded appreciation of problems and determination of best practice and solutions.

Friday evening’s networking function once again provided a great many conversations, and Saturday night (sponsored by NBS) was an absolute hit; bringing some Casino Royale/James Bond-themed glitz and glamour to culminate the event.  A couple of us even managed to have a sing-along with the band!  😉

Among the constructive feedback from attendees was the need for more seating and an easier time of getting food.  We’ve traditionally had a sit-down gala dinner on the Saturday evening, and we will take this feedback into consideration for next year’s event.

I didn’t get to many presentations myself this year, but I did see some of the modelling from point cloud scans from the Sagrada Familia.  I also saw Joe Banks and Willis Lim present their ‘BIM Geeks’ session – a far cry more professional than my old Glorious Gadgets format… also much funnier, I’m delighted to report!

We had a small army of supporters in the form of volunteers (thank you) as well as overseas BILT event committee members (and you!), and comments about the event operations were all very flattering.

I would like to give a thank you to all our sponsors and supporting organisations, as well as all the speakers and all those who attended.

My personal takeaways

I was privileged to host a panel session on the role of government within Australia – assisted by five illustrious State government representatives.  I had some good dialog with them afterwards as well about what we might seek to arrange for next year, having uncovered some things they weren’t already tackling but that they felt they could or should be.

Where to for next year?

As you may have heard by now, BILT ANZ 2020 will be held in Sydney at the ICC.  I’m already looking forward to our committee workshop later in the year to review abstracts and assemble version 1 of the event programme. 

What to expect next year?

  • Business, Strategy and Leadership stream returning, among many others
  • More female speakers
  • More professionally coached speakers (including sponsors)
  • Our largest-ever exhibition (half our booths are already sold out!)
  • More opportunities to shape your industry
  • More engaged owners and operators – including government
  • An opportunity to visit Sydney!
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