Meet the Insider: Cliff Cole, Director of VDC at the PENTA Building Group

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Digital transformation is no longer optional in today’s construction landscape. Technology has become table stakes for every firm that wants to stay relevant and competitive. Industry data shows that 70% of contractors think advanced technologies can boost productivity; plus, many construction professionals believe that tech can improve scheduling (78%) and enhance safety (75%).

That being said, digital transformation takes more than just downloading a new app; these initiatives require a well-thought-out strategy. 

No one knows this better than Cliff Cole, Director of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) at The PENTA Building Group. As someone who oversees the implementation of construction technology and BIM at his firm, Cole knows firsthand what it takes to plan and execute a digital strategy that enables teams to collaborate smarter, increase productivity, and produce optimal results. 

As a Digital Builder Insider, Cliff will share valuable insights on construction tech strategy and implementation. He’ll recap his own digital transformation journey at PENTA and dole out key lessons you can apply to your own initiatives. 

We caught up with Cliff and asked him to share a bit about himself and what readers can look forward to when reading his articles. Check out what he has to say!

Tell me about yourself and what you specialize in? 

My name is Cliff Cole, and I work for The PENTA Building Group based out of our Las Vegas office. I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, until I went to college in Greensboro, NC. Currently, I am the Director of Virtual Design and Construction at PENTA. My area of expertise is in Construction Management, Building Information Modeling, Construction Technology, Lean Construction and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives.

How did you get into the construction industry?

I wanted to be an architect growing up, but I became interested in construction during my college career. After graduating from North Carolina A&T State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering, I worked for a small structural engineering firm in Ashville, North Carolina as a CAD drafter. Wanting to pursue the construction field, I had an opportunity to work for a small GC in Richmond, VA. After two years, I headed west to Las Vegas to work for The PENTA Building Group, starting as a Project Engineer. After being in that role, I had the opportunity to transition to a new position to lead the company's BIM initiative. Over the years, I have had the chance to grow beyond BIM and advance my career in Virtual Design and Construction.

Why are you passionate about the future of work and digital transformation in construction?

My journey in the construction industry has taken me places that I would have never imagined when I started my career. To see where the industry is today compared to when I started is genuinely remarkable. Two specific items make me passionate about the construction industry's future: (1) the people and (2) the potential for improvement. I have met some tremendous people in this industry who have profoundly impacted my career, and I will do whatever I can to pay that forward. In addition, I enjoy solving problems through innovative solutions and advancements in technology. 

Is there a project or person in the industry that inspires you to build better or differently?

The first would be the people who utilized Building Information Modeling to design an iconic hotel-casino in Downtown Las Vegas. That project and the people I worked with inspired me to see beyond what we are currently doing and challenge the "status quo." Many intelligent and talented folks in this industry inspire me every day, and it is tough to name one. Whether it be through peer groups (like BIMandBIR Slack group), meetups at conferences (like Autodesk University), or industry resources (like webinars or podcasts), I find inspiration every day from all people in our industry. 

What can readers expect to learn from you?

Readers can expect to learn about my digital transformation journey with PENTA, how I believe innovative solutions like technology will improve our industry, and why people and culture are the most critical aspect of the construction industry. 

What's one "tool" you can't live without and why?

I mentioned this in the first episode of the Digital Builder podcast with Eric Thomas and Allison Scott; the one "tool" that has been consistent in my life is determination. Nothing that I have achieved in my life or career has been without perseverance and hard work.

Lauren Ginsberg

Construction Content Marketing Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions