BIM People – Suzanne Purcell, General Manager, CitA Ltd.


Suzanne Purcell is General Manager of CitA. Suzanne is responsible to the CitA Board for managing the CitA Network.

This network was set up to encourage the greater use of tailor-made technology within the small and medium enterprises that predominately operate within the Irish Construction Sector. Her responsibilities include: Project Planning – Complete management of the CitA program; Continuous liasion with SME member companies to identify their needs and to ensure their needs are addressed by the programme; Research – Identifying leading solutions and technologies internationally and managing contracted research consultants; Organising BIM Conferences, Member Meetings, and R&D Workshops.

Suzanne talks to about CitA and the upcoming 2015 CitA BIM Gathering, 12th – 13th November, Gibson Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.                                                                                                                          

Please give a brief summary of your career?

I obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Studies from the Michael Smurfit Business School in 2002. Prior to joining CitA, I spent two years as a Senior Account Manager in Ovation Ltd., Ireland’s Largest Event Management Company and prior to that, three years as Event Manager in the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin.
When did you join CitA, and how has your role developed over the years?
I joined CitA in 2008 as CitA Skillnet Network Manager. I became the CitA EIN Project Manager in April 2009 and the CitA General Manager in 2012.

Why and for what purpose was CitA founded?

CitA was established as a research project in Dublin Institute of Technology in association with the Waterford Institute of Technology in May 2001, with the vision of harnessing the potential of ICT in the Irish construction sector.

CitA was formally incorporated into a company limited by guarantee with no share capital in November 2005. CitA is a not for profit organisation.

Membership of CitA is open to all stakeholders in the Irish construction sector (Architecture-Engineering-Construction-Operations – AECO) who all share the CITA vision and want to participate in fulfilling CitA’s objectives.

CitA is determined to lead the Irish AECO sector in advancing its use of ICT and to direct its funding towards supporting members to implement more efficient work practices into the future.

What are CitA’s main functions?

CitA transmits the latest information on technology trends through monthly events and annual conferences with experts in key areas whilst providing networking opportunities with peers.

The CitA BIM Gathering Conference was held in November 2013 and the CitA Smart Collaboration Challenge Conference was held in November 2014.

Since 2008, CitA has provided training grants from Skillnets Ltd. for Construction specific courses for both the employed and unemployed. Since 2008, an average of 300 employed and 100 unemployed trainees are trained each year, totalling approximately 2,400 trainees (1,800 employed and 600 unemployed).

Impact on Jobs – A survey carried out by CitA in July 2014 showed that 50% of unemployed participants who undertook training in 2012 and 2013 with CitA Skillnet are now employed.

The Alliance has robust links with the professional bodies and representative organisations of the AECO Sector.  These include ACEI, CIAT, CIBSE, CIF, CIOB, DIT, Engineers Ireland, GMIT, ICES, IPFMA, IStructE, Law Society, LYIT, NDFA, OPW, RIAI, SCSI, University of Limerick, and University of Ulster. All of the above are closely involved in the design of the monthly events and each body chairs an event.

CitA BIM LinkedIn Group which is a major focal point for debate on BIM related matters at home and overseas has in excess of 5,000 members.

CitA BIM Education Forum was setup in January 2014 with the aim that together with other relevant industry partners on CitA BIM Group, CitA could develop the conversation around BIM in Education in a consistent and joined-up way, and the Forum could provide an opportunity for them to express their views/opinions, and find out what other organisations are doing with regards to education in BIM Pilot Projects.

CitA carried out a CitA Pilot Project in 2013. “The pilot project offered the opportunity to experience and disseminate practical lessons on proof of concept and the potential benefits/risks involved. The pilot team could see first-hand that by shifting project focus from design and construction to Facilities Management permitted a greater understanding of how a more rewarding building could be realised.”

Regional Events – CitA held a national BIM roadshow covering 9 counties between 2014 and 2015 highlighting the urgent requirement for the setting up of regional BIM hubs.

Research – CitA is extremely active in the production and publication of research through Dr Alan Hore, Dr Ken Thomas and Mr Barry McAuley. This is evidenced by the significant number of papers presented at international conferences and downloaded from research paper repositories.

Could you tell us about CitA’s management structure, and its founders?

The CitA Board is comprised of members who are representative of the construction bodies, the commercial side of the industry and education.

CitA has two main founders, Dr Alan Hore and Dr Ken Thomas. Dr Alan Hore is Assistant Head of School in the School of Surveying and Construction Management in Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street. Dr Ken Thomas is Head of the Department of Building Technology in Waterford Institute of Technology.

CitA has a General Manager, a Research Assistant, an Administrator and a Financial Executive.

Could you please describe the upcoming CitA BIM Gathering 2015, and the programme of events?

This international conference will include some of the world’s most respected authorities in the field of BIM and will provide delegates the opportunity to hear from businesses from both at home and abroad, as they continue to take advantage of BIM.

The conference has a three-fold function. Its primary purpose is to present Ireland is a place where BIM will succeed. The second is to emphasize BIM’s importance in making the Irish construction sector more efficient and cost-effective. The third is to discuss new BIM innovations and developments with the global BIM community. 

The overview of events:

Welcome Drinks Reception in Gibson Hotel on 11th November in the executive lounge 7-10pm.

2 Day Conference on 12th and 13th November in Gibson Hotel. One main conference room and 4 breakout rooms. 8 Keynote Speakers, 60 Presentations, 20 Exhibitors.

Conference Dinner taking place on 12th November in Old Jameson Distillery with David Philp as the After Dinner Speaker.

The past Gathering event was very popular, what is at the core of the success of the Gathering event?

The success of the BIM Gathering in 2013 was as a result of bringing together BIM Experts, BIM Educators, BIM Vendors and Irish Construction sector practitioners under one roof for 2 days to present, discuss and brainstorm about BIM. CitA is hoping to build on the 2013 success in 2015.

What are the key additions to this year’s event?

The line-up of Keynote speakers has been increased from 6 to 9. The number of exhibitors has been increased from 15 to 20. The number of Irish companies presenting has increased by 15%.

This year’s event covers a host of topics relevant to the building industry, what do you think attendees most want from these events? 

The 5 breakout rooms provide delegates with a large cross section of presentations to choose from and with a 5 minute break between each presentation delegates have the opportunity to move between the various breakout rooms which enables them to view presentations from each topic through the breakout sessions quite easily.
What percentage of the attendees comes from abroad?

20% of Attendees come from abroad. These include Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Scotland, UK and USA.

You have had many high profile speakers from the construction industry. What were your criteria for selecting speakers?

To invite key international experts from the field to present their experiences and vision from the viewpoint of the various disciplines in the construction sector including education whilst being aware of the gender balance.

The 2015 Gathering will be held at the Gibson Hotel, Dublin. Are some tickets still available, how can people book and attend, what’s involved? 

Full capacity is 300 delegates. We have sold 200 to date. To register and download the conference programme go to

CitA is influencing the future of Irish construction with its programmes. It merges sustainability, green construction, lean and other construction topics with technology. Has the Gathering influenced your course development and training courses over the past few years?

CitA carries out a training needs analysis of its member companies each year to assist in the design and development of future training courses. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Gathering shapes the training. But the Gathering definitely displays and demonstrates the various skills required to excel in the world of BIM which thus highlights to delegates where their skill gaps exist.

What are CitA’s future plans for the BIM Events? 

Once the Gathering is over the CitA Board and steering committees will sit down to plan and design the roadmap for CitA’s Event programme in 2016. At this point all I can confirm is that CitA will be delivering at least 15 nationwide BIM events next year and a large 1 day conference.

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