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Two Decades Later

Two decades ago, I was offered a lifeline by this company which has come to mean so much to me. I had been in Zimbabwe for 23 years, a fantastic experience but one that turned sour with hyperinflation and rampant corruption.

I came to Godwin Austen Johnson on a three-month trial when there were just two dozen employees in a first-floor office close to Lamcy Plaza. Coming from Africa, everything about Dubai was a bit of a challenge. A complete change of pace, living apart from my family and my beautiful shady garden.

My first project was a spa extension at JA The Resort. I took it from concept to completion using Autocad and Sketchup. How times have changed. That first three months sped by. Brian offered me a permanent job and the firm witnessed a period of rapid expansion. A number of new architects joined the firm, and we were working on the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, and we also had The Business Village under design.

In 2005 we got our first Revit licenses. It was love at first sight for me. Version 7 and very few adopters in the UAE at that stage but Brian let me run with it and gradually we built a team.

The Revit team moved to Sharjah for a while. Then we moved to the new office in The Iridium building which saw a team of almost 200 at its peak, including interior design and MEP teams. 

The Revit team took on Jumeirah Golf Estates with several new team members. We grew together, developing our skills project by project. I started to attend Revit conferences and got to know some of the international figures. We were starting to talk about BIM, a broader concept of collaborative work in the digital age.

In 2011 I submitted an entry for the Parametric Pumpkin Competition, a lighthearted event created by Autodesk and my entries won awards four years in a row.

After that came Project Soane, a digital reconstruction of the Bank of England as it was 200 years ago. That took me to Autodesk University and to speaking at many local events, flying the flag for Godwin Austen Johnson, for Revit and for BIM 

Probably the peak of my online profile was Project Notre Dame. A collaborative effort in the cloud that grew spontaneously from one of my weekend explorations. That was 2018. Then came Covid of course and the adaptations that working from home brought. 

At 73 years old, I am moving towards retirement. Slowly and somewhat reluctantly, but it will come.