Connect with Emerging Technology: Meet Graham Condit
Skanska’s Director of Emerging Technology Graham Condit has always been passionate about building, even from an early age. As a child, he built plaster Dungeons and Dragons castles, and he now helps our project teams on the West Coast solve construction problems with technology. In this Q&A blog, Graham discusses how his love for building began and why thinking outside of the box is key to innovation.
How did you get into the construction industry? Did you always know you would end up here?
My dad used to dabble in carpentry, so as a kid, I became fascinated by construction. I even assisted him with small fixes around the house. I spent my free time designing and building scale models out of LEGOs.
In high school, I was involved in a starter program that taught students about engineering and drafting, which sparked my appeal to architecture.
I began college studying architecture, but quickly realized I was more drawn towards construction.
I pursued my construction management degree, all while having this fascination and engagement for detailing, drawing and creating digital models.
The more I got into the construction field, the more I saw how technology could be applied to processes. I love how there's never a dull day.
My interests and passions just helped reveal the direction when it came to a career.
What drew you to your current position at Skanska?
I originally went into the construction industry in the operations side as an engineer and worked my way through the ranks into project management.
I had a set of skills—like my experience with virtual design and construction (VDC)—that I would rely on while I was an engineer that quickly propelled me when I first started in the industry.
When I joined Skanska, I learned about all the technology that we're pursuing, using and promoting with our project teams. I was excited about the opportunities to not only work with these teams, but also shape the industry.
I’ve found real value in the friendships and teamwork that I've seen here at Skanska.
What are you most excited about that's coming up in the emerging technology and construction worlds?
It’s hard to pick out one thing, but the evolution of light detection and ranging (LiDAR), a way to measure space that you're engaged in, is exciting to me.
LiDAR is now microsized, which means it can be added to our everyday devices. For example, phones and headsets are now getting LiDAR scanners and sensors built into them.
When types of technology are microscaled and added onto different devices, that's when you start seeing a lot of innovation happen. I get to work with people on our teams to do that, and we’re propelling the industry forward.
I think of the news from Apple on their new headset they launched recently. There is more momentum and development in this space. We’re in an industry where the imagined world and the built world collide.
I'm just hoping that continues, as the scale of adoption raises the opportunities for reimagining how we approach planning, visualizing, problem solving and tracking work.
I do see technology evolving to a state where you can easily superimpose content on various displays and interact with it—like you see in Hollywood science fiction.
What do you want people to know about Skanska’s emerging technology team?
I think we're just in the beginning. We've got a lot of lofty goals and it’s all starting to come together.
Other business units in Skanska, beyond USA Building, are also pursuing technology and we’re beginning to get better connected. I think these communities will allow us to test each other and thrive.
I really enjoy where we're going as a company and hope that more people connect with our communities because it’s great to work with others who are passionate about the same topics.
What is a typical day like in your role?
There’s no typical day. We're always working with multiple teams and doing everything from talking about certain challenges on projects to getting jobsites set up with different technologies.
I spend a lot of time engaging with different project teams on the West Coast. There's always someone out there looking for help, and I sometimes feel like a support desk in that regard.
Whether I’m helping someone get the appropriate entitlements to do something or connecting them to certain technology, I'm constantly getting calls and then working through problems, which I love.
It's not the punch-the-clock 9-5 job that my parents had.
What is the best part of your job?
My team is the best part of my job. When you're around people in a role like this, you see the passion and interest for the field. Nothing bonds people together like solving problems or building something, and we do both.
My colleagues are always stepping up to help me. They prop me up and help me pursue things I’m interested in. They make me feel motivated.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
For me, it’s turning off the clock. I've always had a “get it done” mindset, and when I hop into something, my blinders turn on. I love to get immersed in tasks and hobbies.
When I was younger, I'd sit down to play a video game and then suddenly realize it was 4 a.m.
I try to take advantage of technology to warn me about how much time is passing. For example, I set timers on my watch to help me be deliberate. I also use "Do not disturb” outside business hours so I can have a nice work-life balance.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I’m a maker. I like drawing, painting, 3D printing, carpentry and cooking—whatever can be made that you can share with others.
For Father's Day, I laser etched some coasters for my dad. He won’t stop messaging me about how much he likes them, and that makes me so happy. Seeing something I made be enjoyed by someone close to me is what really drives me.
What else do you want people to know?
The challenge we have around technology is that sometimes when something is implemented, we think it will be like driving straight on a freeway, not having to take any ramps or change course.
There is an idea that we must do everything one way and never change it.
Even if it's not emerging technology, the methods and ways that you interact with technology can be emerging and evolving.
Sometimes you can use things differently than they’re intended to be used, and you can get good value from it.
One thing that’s always in the back of my mind is the old ad slogan from Apple: “Think different.”
It's easy to get locked into our process—we think once people teach us how to do things, that's the only way how to do it.
But you don't necessarily always have to approach things one way. The destination can be reached by taking various routes.
Thinking outside of the box can lead to outcomes you never expected, especially when it comes to innovation.
Like hearing from our Emerging Technology team? Read our last story with Albert Zulps where he discusses how he got into the construction industry, the best part of his role and what he’s most excited for in the field of emerging technology.