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News & opinion

17 FEB 2021

Advancing a more ethnically diverse built environment

Amos Simbo, Founder of BPIC Network, an independent organisation that connects minority communities within the built environment, talks to us about how BPIC Network has grown so quickly since its launch in September 2019 and their plans for 2021 and beyond.

What first attracted you to a career in the built environment?

Following on from my Graduation at Loughborough university in 2011, I managed to land my first role in the built environment with a mechanical services contractor. This wasn’t because of industry attraction but just the first job offer I received. However, this turned out to be the best thing to have happened to me, I was not aware of the vast number of opportunities within the industry. Previously I had tried a few internships and was beginning to think picking up my engineering degree was not the best choice as I did not enjoy any of the intern roles. I was beginning to consider a career within the banking industry until I secured my first role. I have gone on to be a technical services manager from my early years to now having my own technical services consultancy, Winway Consultants. A career in the built environment has been one of the best decisions which I did not make!

Tell us all about BPIC Network

BPIC Network is an independent organisation dedicated to connecting minority communities with the built environment, providing careers opportunities, training and networking events tailored to those currently working in the construction industry. In addition, we are a platform for the youth and those seeking to join the extremely exciting world of construction. The vision is to be a bridge between ethnic minority communities and the built environment. 

Since our launch in September 2019, BPIC has gathered momentum and has managed to partner and work with some of the leading organisations within the built environment. We cover all sectors of the built environment from real estate, on site construction and industry consultancy. Some of our partners in the UK include Balfour Beatty, Gleeds, Volker Wessel, Higgins Partnerships, Foster and Partners and many more. We have managed to partner with over 20 organisations in our 1st year and 2021 will see us build and scale our organisation. We have also formed relations with major infrastructure projects such as HS2 and we are also working with governing bodies such as Department of Business, CBI, Parliament, and local councils. This has enabled us to build a good foundation which we are now looking to build on in what promises to be a ground-breaking 2021.

Growing our network is also central to our growth. Our platform is built for people with an aim to increase the participation of black and ethnic minorities in the industry. We are glad to see that in short space of time, we have managed to grow our network to over 3,000 professionals in the space of a year that are signed up as members, placed 18 network members into professionals’ roles and managed to hold 15 events ranging from networking, mentoring and career awareness. Our social media presence has also grown with a steady rise of over 10,000 people across all platforms in a year. The goal is continued growth to facilitate ethnic minority groups into the built environment across the country

What inspired you to create BPIC Network?

BPIC Network started as result of needing a network of minority professionals across the built environment who could meet, discuss ideas and ways to progress in the industry amongst each other as well as get to meet role models and mentors. With black and ethnic minorities not represented in most areas, they often find themselves being the only ones in different spaces and BPIC Network provided a solution for this, which quickly gravitated with the industry members. This became a way to solve some of the issues minorities face in terms of networking and knowing the best ways to navigate the industry. Connecting with different professionals across the industry will also enable greater knowledge of the industry and bring about more role models. Being able to do all this and being part of the industry change is what inspired me to stick with the network and ensure we can grow.

With black and ethnic minorities not represented in most areas, they often find themselves being the only ones in different spaces and BPIC Network provided a solution for this, which quickly gravitated with the industry members

How has the network grown so quickly?

BPIC Network has managed to grow quickly mostly because of our approach to the industry as well as the need for a network encompassing the whole industry. Our focus has always been and will always be about our network members being central to our message. Our network is our net worth. This along with the need for minorities to connect with each other as well and the industry needing an organisation that can be part of the solution has been instrumental to our growth.

What are the goals for BPIC Network?

Our main goal is to bring tangible action to our industry, making it more inclusive by helping to acquire, retain and promote talent within the industry. We started off in London and are looking to expand our initiative across the country. We have already achieved having a network membership of more than 3000 as well as 30 corporate partners in our first year.

Did you notice a rise in engagement following the murder of George Floyd and the BLM Protests?

Since our launch we have been well received across the industry and were already in discussion with quite several organisations. However, BLM Protests brought the conversation to the top of the agenda for most organisations who perhaps did not realise the need to change and be more community focused. We noticed an increase in engagement and enquiries following the BLM protests which shows how people reacted to it within the organisations. Most organisations were also pushed by their employees to speak up.

What would you say to inspire young people to become black professionals in the built environment?

The built environment is one of the most exciting industries to work in, with so much flexibility, rewards and career options, a career in the built environment almost guarantees success. I have always enjoyed the feeling of building something you can see and appreciate for a lifetime as well as having a feeling of progress once you finish. The built environment also builds our communities and getting young people involved means they are also involved in the process of building our future cities and communities. A career in the built environment is very exciting and worth serious consideration.

You can find out more about the work of BPIC Network on their website.

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