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Disruption not slowing down warns Aurecon CEO

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Aurecon Global CEO Giam Swiegers

15 February 2017 - As the ‘speed’ of change accelerates, the sheer velocity of disruption facing engineering, property, construction and infrastructure organisations is only increasing, according to Giam Swiegers, Aurecon’s Global CEO, as he continues the firm’s investment focus on leadership, innovation and change. And with the global engineering and infrastructure advisory firm’s performance climbing year on year, the Aurecon Board is in full agreement, extending Swiegers’ term as Global CEO until February 2019.

In announcing the extension, Global Chairman Teddy Daka stated: “We have seen an incredible amount of change within the organisation over the past two years while Giam has been helping us to build a strong and sustainable business with a real focus on the future. Having Giam extend his term will provide us with the stability we need to continue embedding these changes and improvements into our business.”

Swiegers, a big fan of multidisciplinary diversity, has made significant changes to the leadership cohort at Aurecon and two recent internationally recognised appointments will further boost Aurecon’s leadership gene pool.

Starting on 30 January, Aurecon appointed energy guru Dr Alex Wonhas as Aurecon’s new Managing Director, Energy & Resources. Dr Wonhas was previously Executive Director for CSIRO’s environment, energy and resources sector where he oversaw research, development and demonstration activities, as well as the commercialisation of a range of fossil, renewable and demand side energy technologies. He was also a key member of the Government’s Expert Panel for its Energy White Papers.

In a major boost to its Advisory practice, Dr Abe Nezamian – a globally recognised authority on infrastructure rehabilitation, asset integrity management and asset management in the mining, infrastructure and transport industries across Australia, the Middle East, UK, US, SE Asia and West Africa – was recently appointed Aurecon’s Global Leader in Asset Management, seen as a major growth area for Aurecon’s advisory business.

“Smart businesses in the energy, property and infrastructure sectors understand our world is changing and with it, the need to change leadership priorities, capabilities and work practices,” says Swiegers.

“For Aurecon, this has meant focusing our workforce on quickly adapting and using smart technology or ‘infra tech’, exploring new ways of delivering mega projects, better managing the life cycle of existing major assets and of course upskilling our leadership and our talent across the globe as we prepare for a very different future.

“The current wave of disruption is either a catalyst for a company’s downfall, or a clear call to harness its greatest brains to solve some of the biggest problems the world has ever seen. In future, those able to mobilise the creativity of a cross-disciplinary and cross-culturally diverse workforce in order to deliver competitive advantage will succeed in building globally successful and sustainable businesses.

“Aurecon will continue to invest in strong leaders who provide not only eminence in their space, but have the leadership style, global mind-set and courage to lead amidst ongoing disruption,” says Swiegers. “These experts bring subject matter expertise and advisory capability to major growth markets for Aurecon and play an important role in developing our global teams to meet clients’ most significant and changing challenges.”

A key advisor on energy security issues, Dr Wonhas, previously a member of the executive team of CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, was instrumental in expanding the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance nationally and bringing in AGL, Origin and Santos as additional industry partners. He chaired the energy theme at the 2014 G20 Global Café in Brisbane, was a key member of the Federal Government’s expert panel of the 2012 and 2015 Energy White Papers, and also conceived the Future Grid Forum that brought together over 100 participants from across the whole electricity value chain to define its possible future, focus technology developments and inform regulatory processes.

Similarly, eminent Dr Abe Nezamian, who held the ASME International Petroleum Technology Institute Award for global excellence consecutively from 2011-2016, is renowned for helping companies navigate industry change over the past decade, advising clients in mining, transport and infrastructure across the globe on asset integrity management and asset management. He is a widely published authority on asset condition assessment/management and life extension, management strategy, decision support tools, OPEX/CAPEX optimisation and best in practice asset management programmes. He is also a task group (Strategy) Co-Chair for development of OGP (ISO SIM Global Standard), a member of ISOPE scientific and technical committees and Chairman of the Global FPSO Integrity Management community. 

Giam Swiegers believes these appointments reflect Aurecon’s commitment to building the kind of cross-cultural, multidisciplinary and gender-equal workforce that will see smart businesses like Aurecon become future ready.

The success of this strategy was highlighted late last year, when the firm was presented with the 2016 Australian Human Resources Institute Inclusive Workplace Award less than a week after also winning Engineers Australia’s highest honour possible: The Sir William Hudson Award for its revolutionary Brisbane's Flood Recovery Ferry Terminals, clearly linking the two achievements.

The Sir William Hudson Award recognises the most outstanding engineering project and is the highest accolade for a project-based award that Engineers Australia confers. The award follows further recognition for Aurecon’s creativity at the Consult Australia Awards for Excellence, where it won Gold in Design Innovation for 5 Martin Place, Sydney.

“Both projects include ground breaking innovations and can be linked to an enhanced focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, diversity of ideas and inclusive work practices,” says Swiegers.

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