Member Spotlight - Building A Great Example For Women In Construction

6 min 30 sec read

Our Members are an integral part of the Autodesk Research Community and each one of them has an amazing story to tell. Our “Member Spotlight” features will allow us to showcase some of our passionate and active members in our community.


We recently spoke to Silvia Gioja, a BIM Lead in Mobility (Infrastructure), who shares how she's building a great example for Women in Construction.


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Q: Hi, thank you so much for your time today. We are really excited to learn more about what you do in your world of construction. Please start by telling us your name, and a little about the work you do/types of projects you work on.

A: My name is Silvia Gioja, I’m the BIM Lead Mobility for Arcadis, Belgium.

I’m Italian and bring international expertise and insights to my role having worked in Rome, Qatar, and now Belgium since 2017.

My career started in architecture, and as I gained more and more experience through projects focussing on bridges, corridors, and especially tunnels, now specialize in Mobility (Infrastructure).

Last year in 2021, I was awarded as the Best Woman in Tunnelling and Underground Construction in Europe by Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE). I was also recognized as having made an impact in my field and voted one of the Top Three Women in Construction by The Belgian Construction Awards.

I’m also an ISO standards 19650 information practitioner and I’m actively involved in several organizations to inspire women.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

A: Usually, my diary is fully booked due to my role as BIM Lead for the Infrastructural sector and BIM manager on major projects within the company.

It’s a very busy day, so the first thing I must do in the morning, being Italian, is drink a tasty espresso! After dropping my baby at daycare, I start my working day at 9 am.

As BIM Lead, I’m the bridge between the global and regional BIM agreements, responsible for the day-to-day implementation, management and delivery of my own projects as well as other projects within the company. I also set the annual BIM objectives for the Mobility sector within the company.

I work towards building an innovative working environment and promoting the use of BIM. I have to evaluate the BIM process from a wider perspective taking input from regional and international teams, not only within my office but also in other worldwide offices and have to check compliance and standards as well as looking for new technical applications.

I split my activity as BIM Manager between big-size projects like the renovation of the Ring North of Brussels to delivering high-level standardization to solve issues from desktop connector, to the right version of software or add-ins.

I work in the city and after work I like doing sports and am sure to prioritize a work-life balance.

Evenings are fully dedicated to family and love watching movies with my husband and baby, although the sofa is now smaller with the second son having recently arrived!

During the weekend I enjoy spending the time with family, running and painting.

Q: What Autodesk products do you use and for how long?

A: I belong to the generation of people who lived through the transition of handmade drawings to AutoCAD, which was a revolution for me.


I've been an AutoCAD user since 2003 and then progressed to Revit, Civil 3D, and Navisworks.


I’ve been using the BIM 360 platform since 2017. These tools, along with InfraWorks and Dynamo are the main components to our company’s eco-system.


Q: What have been your biggest opportunities or challenges in your work? What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of?


My degree was highly complex, and I learned the interoperability between different software systems and seismic studies which was quite specific, and I am very proud of the result.


However, it was when I entered the workplace, I was really able to make an impact with my projects with BIM and especially Revit. The opportunity to work in Qatar for the Doha metro stations project was also notable for me, both professionally and personally.


In my career, I’ve progressed through all the steps of BIM Management. I started as a BIM Modeler working with different software, to BIM Coordinator and Manager carrying out quality checks to ensure the client delivery meets their high standard requirements.


In Belgium, there are two main projects I’m really proud of and for both projects, we used Autodesk software.

One was the project renovation of the old and unsafe tunnel network here in Flanders, Belgium. We were given so much information, from both BIM and GIS sources, and we had to combine from PDF information to point clouds, which was challenging in managing multiple aspects for structures, systems, roads, sewers, and workflows.


The second project was Knoop Zuid (the South Connection) – a complex traffic junction in the southern area of Antwerp with roads and bridges to be reinforced or rebuilt, along with new ones added.


That was complex from a graphical and informational viewpoint and included BIM and GIS integration and covered over 150 hectares and 15km of corridors. We needed Dynamo scripts to align some bridges that were drawn from old pdfs to the real actual situation, surveyed thanks to point clouds.


The more challenging, the more interesting they say!


Q: How often do you participate in research within the Autodesk Research Community? What types of research do you prefer?


A: I used to participate more frequently but now I’m BIM Lead I have a direct connection to Autodesk and can share challenges directly.


However, I did find a forum (" I wish there was a plugin to do...”) particularly interesting recently and looked through what others had shared.


Q: What do you enjoy most about being part of the Autodesk Research Community?


A: I mostly like the fact that it’s an open point of contact. Somewhere to share inputs to develop and improve Autodesk services and products, even for those who don’t have a direct connection to Autodesk.


I have been working with Autodesk products for 20 years and in some versions, improvements are more tangible than others. Sometimes big steps are made, and sometimes issues are still open. In the community, you can discuss improvements and compare your needs with other colleagues, get inspired by some posts, and investigate solutions proposed.


In my experience, I’ve learned to accept that there will be improvements in the future, and not to stress but always try and find solutions within a couple of weeks to work around in the meantime.


Q: On a personal note, what are your career aspirations and goals soon in this field? 


A: I’ve received many opportunities from working abroad to thought leadership opportunities. I’m looking forward to continuing to promote BIM, being an effective and qualitative manager, and working to support other professionals.


Every time there is a good opportunity I go for it – I like challenges. My life’s aim is to continually grow and develop, whatever the goal I may have at the time.


I aim to be recognized as one of Autodesk’s best 40 under 40 professionals and would like to see more women in senior roles in the BIM field.


Q: If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?


A: I would make the same mistakes again and follow my instincts again.


If you would like to join the Autodesk Research Community and influence your Autodesk experience by joining our research, engaging with team members and seeing your impact, please click here to be part of our community.

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