There is a speculation regarding courses providing certified professional specialization. The speculation is based on the rightful, quantified data, that not all skills can be taught through even the most rigorous curricula in the most respected universities. Since the world around us is constantly in flux, ‘cause and effect’ or ‘action and actor’ that do not retain their status for a prolonged period. There are, however, many theories about the metaskills required to achieve professional success in the millennial age.
This is also applicable to education for building construction executives who are responsible for large multidisciplinary teams involved in the building process. There exist a number of traditional roles which may be befitting as the origin of the contemporary building project team lead. The stapathi or master craftsman, who was responsible for designing, supervising and coordinating any major building activity in India, especially temples, comes close. The contemporary profession is similarly all-encompassing where one individual is responsible for coordinating construction project activities including finances, drawings, material, and workforce.
The following are the principal skills required to become an effective building executive:
ONE: ‘Theory of mind’ or ‘perspective taking’ is perhaps the most critical skill which is essential in most professions. This helps to mentor multidisciplinary teams with varied education, personal and knowledge proficiencies. This trait of cognitive capacity forges effective interpersonal relationships, critical for smooth functioning teams.
TWO: Seeing or the art of ‘spotting the issue’ is another key and a tough skill to acquire. This is the first step to the discovery of a plug in the machine. Acknowledging the issue gives an opportunity to address a calamity before its advent. This skill can be honed over a period of time with in-depth knowledge about industry’s processes and practices.
THREE: The skill of ‘making’ helps engage a learner’s mind to shape a theoretical concept into a physical product. This skill should be reflected in the curriculum as one of the knowledge transfer methods.
FOUR: The ability to dream drives innovation in any field. In education, the aptitude to dream can be brought about through exercises of creative thinking. Being legends, slaying dragons and scoring world records does not rely only on hard work and command on tools of the trade or practice. It requires a burning quest for originality, risk-taking or making a difference by challenging existing practice.
FIVE: Learning is an indispensable skill necessary to survive in any profession. This extends to building project execution where constant up gradation of building knowledge, training, and research ensures response to a crisis. This translates into instilling the ability to question and critique through academic exercises.
Any university’s education which equips graduates to question, think critically and analyze issues, besides delivering all technical knowledge, can help shape the future building executives. In a rapidly developing country like India, there is a need for educated construction leaders to steer Government funded infrastructure and other large scaled commercial or cultural projects. This will bring in professional approach to the otherwise ad-hoc, self-learning and temporary occupation. Coordinating construction of a public building requires mentoring experts for scheduling, safety, cost estimating, design, quality assurance, value engineering, commissioning and risk management. Formal education hands individuals with necessary tools, confidence, and acumen to tackle boardroom or site language with ease. The curriculum for such a course must also address opportunities for higher education.
Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University offers a three-year graduate programme BSc. Building Projects which is designed to fill the need for informed, educated and aware executives in the building construction industry. The curriculum is designed to ensure the graduates have all the technical know-how of coordinating a construction project, good communication or people skills, deep knowledge of building processes, and impeccable problem-solving ability. The lesser known building executive is a profession critical for conversion of a designer’s intent into a tangible physical realm.