DADO recently welcomed Emily Heppard to our team as our Strategic Development Manager. Before entering the construction world, Emily worked in higher education at Northwestern University outside of Chicago. She then pivoted to a position as an Academic Manager for Bluebeam where she developed her acumen for construction and passion for skilled trades education and advocacy.
How did you get started in the construction and/or technology industry?
About four years ago, I saw this Bluebeam job posting and was like, “This job looks really exciting but I’m never going to get it. I’m not qualified. I have no background in building.” However, my dad is in the construction industry and has been for many years. I asked him for some advice, and talking with him made me really excited about all the possibilities that existed to help the industry move forward in terms of technology, adoption and advancement, especially at the education level, which was what I was familiar with from my previous roles. I’m grateful to Bluebeam for taking a chance on me and launching my career in construction.
Through this role, I learned a lot from my colleagues, our customers, and especially our educators. I worked with professors, along with the directors and trainers at skilled trade training centers, on all sorts of professional skill development programs.
There’s something really exciting and ambitious about building in general; the ability to take a design and bring it to life. I have so much admiration for construction professionals. It’s made me really excited to be in this industry and to now be a part of the DADO team, working with a new bunch of innovative team members and exceptional clients.
What do you like most about working with the skilled trades and has that been your focus?
Before joining the construction industry, I’d worked with professors, faculty and university programs, so that part came very naturally. But, I didn’t even know where to get started with skilled trades.
To learn about how an apprenticeship actually works, I went on an education campaign and reached out to different training directors, asking them a ton of questions. Ron McGuire from iTi even generously drove me around to different sheet metal JATCs in the Chicago suburbs to help me see what a training facility looked like.
The tours of the training centers were very interesting and they really got me hooked on this whole other aspect of education that I think is extremely underserved and underrepresented in the United States’ educational environment. Most people leaving high school are not presented with a trade school or apprenticeship as a viable option, or just not given kind of a full understanding of what an apprenticeship program looks like in practice.
I got this urge to really help drive that awareness. With DADO, I am able to continue that work, especially as trades struggle with low enrollment in apprenticeship training programs. Tech companies can serve a really exciting role in helping to elevate the importance of the trades and add to that voice and that message that the trades are so valuable. There’s so much opportunity there.
How important is it that our trades have access to technology in the same way as the larger companies and General Contractors do?
It is so important and this goes back to my, in some ways, desire to “fight for the underdog” because most technology solutions are built from the specific perspective and pain points of General Contractors. In some cases, they’re built for very large national or multinational GCs that are not representative of the way that the vast majority of construction companies in this country run their projects.
With DADO, we have a technology solution that looks at the challenges of collaborating with different GCs. Pulling information from various decentralized sources, needing to track that information in an organized way, and receiving information that could be formatted completely differently depending on the source.
What makes DADO extremely unique is that it was built with trade contractors in mind. DADO was developed through the lens of a trade contractor, creating a field-ready solution that is built to serve their specific needs. We really turned the conventional tech perspective on its head.
How do you work with your clients to ensure successful onboarding and implementation?
The most important part of onboarding is learning that one size does not fit all. Some customers want to be highly involved while others find that kind of burdensome. Also, we want to make sure that they have a plan to roll DADO out to their colleagues within the company effectively and be able to support them during the process.
It is essential to listen to your customer and not try to force them into a really complex onboarding process if they don’t want it, but supporting them where they are and helping them get where they want to go.
What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned since joining the DADO team?
Something that I’ve learned to stop doing is make assumptions about what our trade contractor customers need! Every shop, large and small, local and national, and each individual trade has really unique considerations. That could be due to the timing of their work on their projects, the municipalities they work in, the designers and engineers they receive drawings from- it’s so important to take time to get to know a customer and their business individually, and I think that’s where DADO really shines- we dedicate time to that personalization, and want to help our customers do their best work possible.