VIATechnik COO Sees D&I as a Force Multiplier
VIATechnik COO Sees D&I as a Force Multiplier
August 31, 2021 • 5 min read
We hope you can join us on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 2:30 p.m. EST (11:30 p.m. PST) for a virtual panel discussion titled “Transformational Change Through Diversity and Inclusion.” It’s one of more than 200 such educational sessions being conducted as part of Autodesk University 2021.
Register (no cost) and be sure to join us for the event, where we’ll dig into the value of D&I in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) workplace and share some interesting findings on D&I research conducted by our panelists.
In the runup to the session, which will include ProNovos founder Bruce Orr, we’re highlighting the backgrounds and perspectives of the panelists. Thanks so much to panelist Anton Dy Buncio, COO of VIATechnik, for speaking with us for the first article in the series.
Anton Dy Buncio prioritizes D&I in his role as COO of VIATechnik, a leading digital-transformation company in the AEC industry. To explain why, he cites two experiences that highlighted to him the benefits of putting people with different backgrounds on the same team.
The first was in 2000, when Dy Buncio traveled from his home in Manila, Philippines, to Pretoria, South Africa, for an environmental conference for recent high school graduates. The organizers wanted to expose these future leaders to peers with diverse life experiences, and the attendees hailed from 20 different countries.
As part of the majority ethnic group back home, Dy Buncio had never seen anything like it.
“It was quite shattering from my perspective,” he said. “A lot of what I had been taught, I found was wrong. I was like, ‘So this is what is real—people with different views, religions and ethnicities just learning from each other.’ It was eye-opening. I knew there was something interesting there.”
With a view toward eventually becoming a tech entrepreneur, Dy Buncio moved to the United States in 2000. He earned a degree in management science and engineering from Stanford University in 2004, then took a job at the global management consultancy Bain & Co., where he developed growth strategies for a leader in the waste-management industry, ramped up efficiencies at a semiconductor manufacturer, and streamlined operations at an Australian telecom, among other assignments.
Along the way, Dy Buncio once again watched diverse teammates tackle huge challenges and complement each other’s strengths. “Bain & Co. was best-in-class around diversity. For example, the partners I worked with in San Francisco were extremely diverse,” Dy Buncio said. “The company also understood how to create environments that support and encourage diverse teams, which is part of what we’re now trying to accomplish at VIATechnik.”
Visualizing the Future
With eight offices and more than 170 employees, VIATechnik aims to transform the analog world of design and construction into a digital platform. The company’s tools and services for AEC clients include the likes of digital twins, BIM, VR, AR, prefabrication, software development and digital construction management. VIATechnik has worked on more than 2,000 projects, including Apple’s new headquarters, the Tesla Gigafactory, LaGuardia Airport, Hudson Yards, the Atlanta Falcons Stadium and Chase Arena.
Such efforts require a steady stream of top talent, and D&I gives VIATechnik some advantages on that front, Dy Buncio says. Start with the company’s founder and CEO Danielle Dy Buncio, a Stanford graduate and AEC tech veteran who happens to be Dy Buncio’s spouse. “She is female and Hispanic, and so we have had talented jobseekers—especially those who are female—mention that they submitted their resume to us because they were awed by a female CEO.”
Since launching in 2012, VIATechnik has made good progress in creating an inclusive environment, Dy Buncio notes. “We have lots of people who are passionate about it. For example, we hired an amazing HR leader, Leia Henry-Camille, who cares about it from both a personal and professional standpoint. If your leadership team is aligned on D&I, it’s much easier to make progress.”
However, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is an ongoing effort that requires continual questioning. Recently, Dy Buncio sent out a survey to better determine how VIATechnik employees view their workplace. He plans to share the results during the Autodesk University presentation.
“I told the team I wanted to put our money where our mouth is and do our own internal survey,” he said. “We may think we are doing well, but let’s gather the data, see how we can improve, and try to move the needle further.”
That intentional approach—defining problems and carefully listening to stakeholders rather than charging in with a predetermined solution—is fully consistent with VIATechnik’s methodology for benefiting its AEC clients, the COO notes. He also sees parallels between one of the hallmarks of honest inquiry on D&I—a willingness to embrace discomfort in the spirit of learning from and better connecting with one another—and VIATechnik’s company culture around valuing differing points of view, even if they clash.
“At VIATechnik, one of the things we really discourage is any kind of ‘yes person’ dynamic,” he explains. “When you’re solving hard problems, you get to a better outcome when you have diverse points of view and challenge each other.”
The executive also encourages his teams to embrace difficult challenges, an approach that stands to yield dividends on D&I as well. “D&I is a struggle in many directions, but that’s what keeps me going. I love struggles.”