Leading in a Technology-Driven Global Field: 2023 Industry CEOs Forum Overview

The BuiltWorlds Industry CEOs Forum is an annual exclusive gathering where high-level peers can interact and exchange ideas. Since this event's inception in 2016, the AEC industry has undergone a massive technological shift, changing the trajectory of the industry environment altogether. No longer confined to IT departments, industry players now recognize the critical role that technology plays within every facet of their business–including talent acquisition and retention, confronting productivity and supply chain challenges, positioning for new business opportunities, mitigating and managing risk, and creating effective growth strategies. The ever-growing presence of mobile, cloud computing, and IoT technology, which is driven by a surge of venture capital investment and increased M&A activity, has made it vital for CEOs to comprehend the technological landscape and develop strategies to adapt their organizations effectively.

The forum began with a pre-session dinner on April 18 at the Four Seasons. Here, attendees were given the opportunity to connect with one another in an intimate setting before diving into industry discussion within the event. The night concluded with a keynote presentation led by David Schonthal, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Faculty Director of the Zell Fellows Program, and award-winning Professor of Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management. He discussed his Wall Street Journal Bestselling book, “The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas”, highlighting the need to eliminate frictions that limit innovation. Below is an excerpt from Schonthal and Loran Nordgren’s 2022 book.


“This book explores the four Frictions that operate against innovation and change. Like drag on a bullet, the four Frictions push back against the ideas and initiatives we want to bring into the world. When a physical object is set in motion, the value or importance of the object has nothing to do with the Friction it faces. Coating a bullet in gold increases its value but doesn’t reduce its drag. Unfortunately for the innovator, the same is true for new ideas.” David Schonthal and Loran Nordgren, “The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas”

The second day of the event began with introductions between all of the attendees along with the opportunity to address their key areas of interest they wanted to explore throughout the day.

The first speaker of the day was Peter Holt, CEO & General Manager of Holt Cat. Holt discussed the last decade’s evolution of technology within the market and noted the importance of aligning people and organizations with these technology initiatives. He also shared his journey about coming into both the strategic and fund investing sector and the quick and multifaceted pace that the space has.

Darren Bechtel, Founder and Managing Director of Brick & Mortar Ventures, spoke about the industry’s venture sector and the recent surge of investments placed into technology, modular, materials, and other areas of innovation. He shared the importance of looking at venture from a globalized perspective, as the dispersion of startups has shifted to different areas around the world with new innovation and technology trends.

Following the discussion on venture within the industry, BuiltWorlds’ own Tyler Sewall and Dan Laboe educated the attendees on our company-specific research pertaining to tech adoption. They spoke on the significance of emerging technologies and the need for experts to adopt these resources and technologies as they begin to surface within the industry at large.

Dan Koloski, Professor of the Practice and Head of Learning Programs, Roux Institute at Northeastern University and Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace.ai, then called a discussion centered around AI Machine Learning and the field implementing technology into digital workflow management. Koloski talked about what AEC players should expect as this technology continues to advance.

The event closed with a chat led by Peter Beck, Executive Chairman of The Beck Group; and Rik Kunnath, President at Charles Pankow Foundation. The two discussed the cultural and technological changes that are reshaping the industry and what these changes mean for the c-suite.

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