Ivo Zakov is a BIM Manager at KPT Design. Born in Bulgaria, he has been living and working in London for nearly 15 years now. Ivo is an experienced professional with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. Keen BIM advocate with passion for cooking, cycling and running.
Can you share the story of how you chose structural engineering as your professional field?
Certainly. I was inspired to pursue engineering by my mother, who worked part-time for a building and quantity surveying company. She had a technical drawing board at home, and I was fascinated by the craftsmanship required to produce accurate drawings. With the evolution of technology and CAD software, the process has become easier and more efficient. I now have almost 11 years of experience, working in various companies, from small teams to large international groups.
Can you tell us more about the projects you’ve worked on throughout your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects, from a £100k domestic extension to significant undertakings like the £45 million YMCA Wimbledon, £100 million IKEA Greenwich store, and the £600 million One Berkeley Street project in Central London, just opposite the Ritz Hotel.
Could you explain what Building Information Modeling (BIM) is and your responsibilities in this position at KPT Design?
BIM stands for Building Information Modeling, a collaborative approach using digital technologies for efficient design, delivery, and maintenance of built assets. As a BIM Manager here at KPT Design, my role involves driving the implementation of digital information plans and strategies across the company.
What are the benefits and challenges of using BIM for structural and civil engineering design and analysis?
BIM software can automatically detect clashes and interferences between different building elements, allowing for early identification and resolution of conflicts, reducing construction delays and rework. BIM for structural engineers allows us to adjust the design before construction, avoiding costly delays and rework. BIM helps represent a building’s physical and functional characteristics digitally. You can visualise your design in 3D, enabling you to identify potential issues and errors in the design process. BIM can also be used to track progress and manage resources in the construction process.
What are the newest trends in BIM? What do you think about AI and its role in the future?
Sustainability and Net Zero are hot topics in the UK and EMEA currently. This is why carbon tools and embodied carbon calculators are trendy subjects in the BIM world. It is our responsibility as structural engineers and professionals to advise clients and contractors on the use of most sustainable building methods and materials.
BIM and AI are shaking things up in the construction industry. It is still an early stage of implementing AI fully, but the near future seems promising. Automation of manual CAD/BIM processes can only speed up and increase productivity. We as humans still need to be in control, navigate AI and check the tasks given have been completed successfully.
We have already implemented Walkthrough and VR software throughout the company successfully so AI might be the next step.
What are some of the most important skills a BIM engineer should possess?
To become a BIM specialist, one needs to be well-equipped with both relevant technical and soft skills – the same as any other profession. However, the skills required for a BIM specialist are much harder to define as it depends on the niche and responsibilities.
You need good technical and computer skills, which are essential for this job. You also need a good understanding of engineering and architecture processes, as well as good communication skills.
How do you develop your expertise as a BIM Manager?
As a BIM professional you need to be open to learning something new every day. Typical BIM manager’s journey looks something like this:
– BIM Technician
– BIM Coordinator
– BIM Manager
BIM is a team process. Collaborating with designers and architects allows you to get a better understanding of each project. It also helps with making sure the way in which you manage and store information improves your work and helps meet clients’ needs.
What do you like the most about your job?
One of the best parts of being a BIM Manager is getting to work across many disciplines and with different companies. You have the opportunity to meet and work with people from all walks of life, both inside and outside of the construction industry. Structural engineers make the world safer. You get a real sense of achievement when a project is finished, whether it is a skyscraper, a bridge or a house. It is a rush to touch something that you imagined and designed, knowing that your skills were instrumental in bringing it into being.
What moments in your role as a BIM Manager have brought you the most satisfaction, and could you share your greatest professional achievements?
I am satisfied the most when I see complex concepts of buildings turned into reality. I find it rewarding that us AEC professionals are heavily contributing to the development of society and infrastructure.
It is also great to see people I am coaching here at KPT Design are doing well and succeeding in their careers. My greatest professional achievements are the completion of IKEA Greenwich and YMCA Wimbledon (as lead Information Manager to both).
What is your advice for those who have just started working as structural engineers?
My advice to the fresh starters is to be patient. Engineering is a lifelong learning curve and career. Be ready to make mistakes and learn from them. Listen to your seniors and don’t be afraid to ask questions (the right questions). Work on your chartership and personal development. Last but not least, try to find a way to enjoy what you are doing and make your design work fun.