How to Become a Director of Preconstruction

C-Suite. Top of the food chain. The Boss. The final rung on the corporate ladder.

You can see it. You want it. But how do you get there?

clip are of a figure climbing a staircase Always keep reaching for the next level.

We sat down with DESTINI Estimator champion and Beck Tech friend, Taimoor Khan, to ask him about his journey from junior estimator to director so aspiring junior estimators can map out their hike to the top.

Taimoor points out six major ways you can grow your career in precon:

  • Be career-focused, not job-focused
  • Never settle
  • Ask for help. There are no stupid questions.
  • Always be innovating. Allow yourself to fail.
  • Learn how to bring people together.
  • Lead, not manage.

It all begins with drive. You can’t get to Manager, Director, or Vice President without wanting to get there.

Develop a Strategy of How You Will Grow

Taimoor told us that when he entered the industry, he was job-focused for the first 8-10 years of his career. Being job-focused means you get by with what you need to do to keep your job. And though we all need to do what we need to do to keep our jobs, it is not a way to grow. Instead, be career-focused and intentional about your growth.

Set your sights on where you want to be in two years, five years, and ten years. Then develop a strategy of how you will get there.

Keep Stretching Your Limits

Once you’ve reached a milestone in your career path—don’t settle. Taimoor says, “Don’t make anything a permanent stop,” because once you do, it is easy to get stuck there. The sky’s the limit! Always have the mindset to keep growing.

Quote of Scott Gould, "It is drive that makes a person not accept the status quo. It is drive that makes someone to not want to be mediocre."Ask for Help

“When you become intentional about your growth, you need to reach out to people who can help,” says Taimoor. Seek out good people you can learn from. Whether that be a leader in your company you look up to or someone you find outside through a networking or industry organization. “When you are thirsty, you go to the well. The well doesn’t come to you,” says Taimoor.

A lot of people are afraid to ask for help because they worry about looking stupid. But you’ve heard the phrase, ‘there are no stupid questions,’ right? You won’t learn unless you ask questions. And “if you look like an idiot, so what?” Taimoor says. Taimoor tells us he’s pretty sure he seemed stupid many times throughout his career. Yet, he’s held many senior-level positions with some of the country’s top general contractors.

Remember that when you ask questions to listen. Taimoor wisely says, “When you listen more, you learn more.”

Embrace a Spirit of Innovation

To become a leader in preconstruction, you can’t keep doing it the same way you’ve always done it. There are multiple ways of doing things. Never settle on just one. Therefore, always be searching for ways to do things better and more efficiently. This requires creativity. Taimoor suggests, “Break out of your comfort zone. Have the courage to try new ways of doing things. If you don’t fail, you aren’t learning anything.”

Develop Your People Skills

Beck Technology employees at Advancing Preconstruction conference Taimoor (in the front on the far right) isn't just a business associate of Beck Tech. He is also a friend.

Traditionally, estimating is a lone-wolf job. You spend a lot of time alone, crunching numbers, and allowing someone else to present your work. However, the winds are shifting. Highly successful preconstruction teams are finding that they have better project outcomes when they collaborate not only with each other, but also with designers, owners, and subs earlier on in the process.

This means you can’t hide in your cubicle for weeks and months and then just pass over what you think might be right to someone else to present to owners.

Be a problem solver. Come up with solutions and be comfortable presenting them to clients. Before any ground is broken, take the initiative to meet with architects and owners to understand exactly what they want. You’ll gain trust in your company and with owners by asking the right questions and maintaining communication throughout the project. Taimoor stresses the importance of building relationships. He says, “if you fail to do so, you won’t get repeat work.”

People skills are not something everyone has naturally, but it is something you can develop. Get everyone working together collaboratively, though—subs, owners, designers—and you’ll be the star of the show. “You have to have all these people working together collaboratively. That’s where you not only build strong relationships with them, but also a successful project.”

When you create a great experience for an owner, they will become a repeat customer. If winning more work won’t get you promoted, we’re not sure what will!

Learn What Makes a Great Leader

Those who excel at technical skills get promoted. And, absolutely, yes, you need to know how to create estimates but those with just technical skills alone become only managers, not leaders. Those who are great leaders will rise to the top.

You don’t necessarily need to hold an official title to demonstrate your leadership ability. Display the traits listed here and senior-level precon team members will notice.

Once you make it above junior estimator, Taimoor provides two pieces of advice:

  1. Mentor others. Teach them your role so they can step in your place when you get promoted. You can combat any hesitation to promote you due to the need to backfill your position when you tell them you’ve already prepared a junior estimator to fill your (soon to be) old role.
  2. Know the strengths of your team members and grow them in those strengths. When you insist someone do something they aren’t great at, they can lose confidence and confidence can play a big part in productivity. Build up your team. Be the person you always wanted to work for.

Keep Pushing

Taimoor told us that even in his current position, he feels there are many more levels up he can reach. He says, “If you think about retiring at the position you are at today, you lose all drive.” One of our favorite pieces of advice from him is, “In order to keep growing, you have to aim high. You have to think big. You have to dream big. And that will keep driving you.”

For more resources on how to grow your career in precon, click here.

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