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Leadership Profiles

Leadership Profiles

The Infrastructure Leadership Profile Series is designed to give you an inside look at what matters to today's industry leaders. The series will feature a variety of high-level professionals from across sectors, including Forum Sponsors, project presenters, public sector representatives, and other members of the CG/LA and Leadership Forum community.  

If you are interested in appearing in The Infrastructure Leadership Profile Series, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Paul Becker, Global Industry Leader, Construction, Willis Towers Watson

 

1. How do you see the global infrastructure market evolving in 2017? Over the next 5 years?


We obviously feel that the need for infrastructure is rapidly reaching a critical point where there needs to be dramatically increased investment on every continent. Clearly with the recent elections in several key countries, there is a renewed emphasis on addressing the significant backlog of needs but we also are not convinced that in the near term that traditional government spending will accelerate to even stabilize the situation. In 2017, we hope that there will be a renewed emphasis on streamlining processes so projects can start much quicker than historically has been the case and that includes: the contracting process itself, permitting, balancing environmental needs, and fast tracking funding in a number of areas. We are also following investments which are impacting infrastructure both within Asia and coming from Asia, particularly China. China is very interested in investing in this area and has made it known that they will be looking to take an even greater role in infrastructure globally. This is very interesting to us as we have a significant presence in China and across Asia and we think that over the next several years that the impact of Chinese investment will be significant and could accelerate infrastructure growth.


Beyond those observations, we also are finding a renewed emphasis on basic infrastructure by which we mean water, power, and internet/communications. Those types of investments can have life changing impacts on developing parts of the world and we see them as also being at the forefront of innovation as to how those services will be delivered. While we all hope technology will drive down costs and shorten schedules in big infrastructure, using better design tools, LEAN technologies, and common scheduling platforms such as BIM and the like, truly exciting things are happening around alternative power sources and storage ability, enhanced internet capability and local water systems which will change people's lives for the better (which is the entire premise of smart infrastructure investment in the first place).

2. In this context, how do you see the Canadian and US P3 markets evolving?


In Canada and the US, recent elections brought infrastructure to the forefront as everyone knows. While the Canadian and US models are in different in many ways, we do expect an increase in funding for infrastructure from traditional government funding models to alternatives including P3, unsolicited bidding in many jurisdictions, more use of tolls and user financed models, and hopefully a more predictable contracting process particularly in the US. The lack of consistency around contracts in the US (most infrastructure is either state managed or by governmental entities such as transit or port authorities each of whom have different contracting requirements) is not typical of much of the rest of the world and creates uncertainty and delays in getting jobs out of the ground. We think this would be a good place to focus for the US and would be very helpful in moving jobs forward. Beyond that, the basic questions of funding jobs has not been resolved and we feel that there are a number of significant battles ahead on that front as governments have been reluctant to fund large infrastructure work given continuing budget deficits. So summing up our thoughts, we think that its likely more infrastructure spending will start in 2017 but we also think that this will be a multi-year process given the hole that we have dug by not maintaining pace with infrastructure needs.

3. Are there lessons from them for the rest of the world?


Certainly as I stated, other countries have developed models particularly around P3 which apply to all projects done under that method. That would be a very good start. Secondly, we need to really look at what infrastructure needs are given the changes in work we are seeing which we feel are accelerating and other countries are ahead of us in recognizing that. By that I mean, people are not willing to commute long distances to get to work any longer. Work hours and accommodations are changing in many parts of the world to allow more flexibility in where people work (home for example). Many countries are focusing not on highway systems but on mass transit where they have a major head start on the US and Canada in many respects. Other parts of the world have long histories of alternative approaches to infrastructure by privatizing things like highways and transit and are accustomed to user fees and tools which are not things much of the US in particular has demonstrated a tolerance for. At some point, we expect that the US needs will be critical enough that alternative funding sources will be more acceptable.

4. What are the risk management strategies or tools that would bring more private capital to projects where early stage risk like construction and demand have traditionally attracted less private investment?


Regardless of territory, investors view construction risk as key. Strategically, Willis Towers Watson engages with investors at all stages of projects but we are acutely aware that there are areas of construction risks which are not addressed by traditional insurance products including: cost overrun, project delays, and interface risks. To that end, we work to expand the bounds of traditional insurance and provide more innovative solutions. We feel that innovation is necessary because demand risk is difficult and again, is something not traditionally addressed by the insurance market. An example of innovation within Willis Towers Watson is our parametric trigger footfall product. But innovation also needs to occur in how we understand risk. We'd have to point to advances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mapping services, drones and sensors that are providing the optics necessary to better understand exposures in some of the more remote areas of the world. Our approach is to leverage our own internal models in addition to the best models in the market in order to provide the best perspective on these exposures. Today, we have many more tools to better assess these risks.


We know that emerging markets face specific challenges with attracting investment. We referred earlier to the need for consistency in models. However, in emerging countries specifically, the availability of political commitment, viable legal and political frameworks, and local expertise to support PPP's will be key. Through our broad network of offices, Willis Towers Watson can provide both the specialist advice based on international experience together with the local commitment which is necessary to support projects.
Overall, we would say that accessing risk as the first approach is key and that this is the perspective that provides a framework to evaluate any project. Our approach is to understand the project risks as completely as possible (including the use of tools such as analytics, risk engineering, and contract risk analysis) and to ensure that the most appropriate risk allocation is achieved. The insurance market has limitations and ultimately, uncertainty costs money regardless of whether the risk is passed to the insurance market or retained. Therefore, full due diligence and analysis of project risks is one of the key factors to getting the private sector engaged.

5. What book are you currently reading?


Actually, I am reading two books. American Lion by Jon Meachem which is the terrific biography of Andrew Jackson and has a number of parallels to our current political climate.
The other book is River of Doubt, the story of Theodore Roosevelt leading an expedition into the interior of the Amazon into truly uncharted parts of Brazil after he lost his bid to be elected president in 1912 leading a third party movement called the Bull Moose Party. Incredible story of his willing himself to finish the journey despite nearly losing his life.

  

BRUCE GABRIEL, Partner and Co-Chair of the Global Infrastructure Group,

Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

 

1.     What do you see as THE key challenge for the Trump Administration in unleashing private investment in infrastructure?

Education as to need and gaining popular support to pay for the proposed investments, which go to obtaining the cooperation and support of state and local government officials who will be responsible, in many instances, for execution of projects, The issue is willingness to pay for – through taxes and availability or user charges -- the investments for which money is raised. Execution is extraordinarily difficult given our federal system of government and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by our 50 states and the thousands of local governments that comprise the United States and own much of our infrastructure.  That Infrastructure is fragmented and often below scale for the investments that need to be made and is subject to multi-layer federal, state and local regulation that overlaps and delays projects.

2.     Given that the Global Forum is in Canada, and you are a Platinum sponsor, do you see a role for Canadian pension funds in the US infrastructure market?  What is that role?

As knowledgeable, experienced investors in infrastructure procured using P3 models, the Canadian pension funds have a significant role to play. The terrain is different, however, in the U.S. than other parts of the world. We have a very long history of state and local procurement, ownership, financing and operation of much of our infrastructure. Tax-exempt municipal finance is not going away and, in fact, its availability to play a role in P3-type procurements has been expanded by a recent IRS revenue procedure. The traditional, international P3 model may make great sense in many circumstances, but there are others in which the availability of tax-exempt finance could lead to a hybrid model in which financing is provided primarily via tax-exempt finance. It will be useful to identify early whether this is a significant possibility, so as to avoid wasting effort.

3.     Law firms - are you market makers, or market facilitators, in the infrastructure market?

Squire Patton Boggs is different than most law firms. Most are facilitators that help execute transactions brought to them by other market participants, and we certainly do that. We do more, however, in at least two very specific ways. Our unique public policy capabilities enable us to be very directly involved in the making of policy and, thereby, markets. One example is the WIFIA program for which a colleague was one of the principal authors. In addition, we engage regularly in thought leadership activities such as explaining to the market the significance of IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-44 issued last August. Many P3 market participants misinterpreted certain of its provisions. This was due, in significant part, to lack of familiarity of typical P3 market participants with the complex and voluminous tax rules and regulations that govern U.S. tax-exempt municipal finance. We have had a nationally recognized practice in the U.S. municipal finance market for more than a century, which, combined with our P3 expertise, enabled us to place the provisions of the Revenue Procedure in context and speak to its practical application.

4.     What's the most interesting book you read in 2016?

I would highly recommend Eric Sevareid’s “Not So Wild a Dream,” an extraordinarily well written autobiography first published in the 1940’s by this prominent journalist, which took him from his roots in small town North Dakota around the world and through World War II.  He then, of course, was a national broadcast journalist for many years.  I also would recommend, for some perspective on our current challenges, Felix Rohatyn’s “Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now,” which was published following the onset of the Great Recession in support of the federal stimulus program and profiles many major infrastructure projects undertaken with federal government support.

 

January 24, 2017 simon-pierre Monette, principal, the Boston consulting group

 

1. Ahead of your presentation at the 2017 Global Forum - always a BIG highlight - what are the main trends in global infrastructure for 2017? What do you see as potential surprises?


The main trend globally is relatively slow, tepid growth in developed markets due in part to lower oil and gas capex at low oil prices. Emerging markets are still growing at the mid-single digits vs 0-2 percent in developed markets and select markets have outperformed the UK with the 2020 vision and Japan post Fukishima.

Biggest surprise likely to be a major boost in the United States as infrastructure is made a priority of the new administration, to the point where we could see an additional $1 trillion of investment over next 5 years.

Also expect major investments in autonomous vehicles and mobility in urban centers that could lead the way for an infrastructure technology boom.

2. One of the reasons we are holding the 10th Global Forum in Montreal is the dynamism of the Canadian infrastructure market, what are the key opportunities in the Canadian - and Quebec - markets for 2017?

The Canadian infrastructure gap is thought to be on the order of US$90B. In order to bridge this gap, the federal government is planning to finance major infrastructure projects via PPPs. In particular, in the coming years, major investments into Canada's urban and inter-urban transportation infrastructure are planned to address aging infrastructure and increased urbanization. For example, in Quebec, a $6B, 67km light rail integrated network to link Montreal and its suburbs is expected to be awarded this year. The project is sponsored by CDPQ Infra, the infrastructure arm of the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec. CDPQ Infra`s mandate is to pursue greenfield projects for the province of Quebec. Those types of projects are expected to create opportunities for global players to build, operate, act as capital providers or bring expertise in managing large capital projects.

In addition to greenfield projects, large infrastructure investment opportunities may arise in the coming years if the Government decided to move ahead with the privatization of Canadian ports and large airports – this is currently being contemplated and assessed by the federal government.

3. Another reason for holding the event in Canada is the sophisticated participation of Canadian pension funds in global infrastructure markets. Projects around the world are interested in developing relationships with Canadian funds. What were the key developments in 2016? Do you have any ideas of what we are likely to see in 2017?

Large Canadian pension funds made substantial investments in transportation infrastructure projects globally. Last year, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) - Canada's largest pension fund - invested ~US$560M in the Chicago Skyway, a 12.5 kilometer toll road that forms a critical link between downtown Chicago and its south-eastern suburbs. The Public Sector Pension Investment Board invested acquired a portfolio of 1,644 km of roads spread across 9 concessions located in Brazil, India, Mexico, the US, and Spain. The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) acquired a 20 percent stake in one of the largest federal toll road concessions in Mexico. As Canada emphasizes infrastructure development, we expect Canadian pension funds to maintain a high level of participation in funding Canadian infrastructure.

4. Canada's National Infrastructure Bank - how is that proceeding? Is that going to change the market? What kinds of opportunities are likely to be created?


The infrastructure bank is expected to be set-up in 2017. With the platform, the government is hoping to attract private capital to fund infrastructure. The plan contemplates seed funding of C$35B by the government, with the hope to attract 4-5x the initial investment from the private sector.

The bank has the potential to act as a center of expertise to structure and deliver financially viable projects, while facilitating and catalyzing co-investment by the private sector. As it is expected to treat infrastructure as a form of investment, it might favor funding infrastructure that has access to user fees (e.g. tools). It will have to be seen how the bank will deal with investments that may offer lower returns, but are important in the Canadian context, e.g. some arctic or rural projects and will balance interests of investors and the general public.

 

 

December 12, 2016 -Terry Bennett, Senior Industry Strategist, Civil Infrastructure, Autodesk

1. The quote on your web page 'the world is changing, are you ready?' suggests a number of specific changes that are coming - how does Autodesk help people to deal with those opportunities?

Technology is dramatically disrupting the way buildings and infrastructure are designed, built, and operated. Things like the transformative power of technologies like the generative design, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, additive manufacturing and more. The implications for building and infrastructure design and construction professionals and their clients are significant, and Autodesk is uniquely positioned to guide designers, engineers, builders, and their clients into the future. Now is the time to embrace the tech evolution and put the project and information at the center of the design, build, operate lifecycle. Companies have a choice: adapt to and embrace the tech evolution in the AEC industry, or be overcome by those competitors who do.

We as Autodesk are aggressively transforming ourselves amassing the technology, partners, and talent to simplify and propel forward from a legacy company to disruptor than can democratize this capability and make it available to all infrastructure professionals. Additionally now in its 24th year, the Autodesk University (AU) conferences bring together more than 25,000 participants at live events in 15 countries through classes, forums, and keynotes with product experts and thought leaders. Over 2 million more engage through AU online, which offers free year-round access to learning content and inspirational industry talks from the AU conference events that help keep our customers informed and up to date on how to leverage technology to their business's advantage.

2. What are the biggest changes in your business over the five year period between 2011 and 2016?

Design - all we have known about it and how to leverage it, is being disrupted. I see three major threads that have many contributors underneath.

Changes in 1) the means of production - both intellectual and physical in how we design and deliver products such as infrastructure (ex. use of reality capture via UAS/Drones, generative design and 3D printing); 2) the products themselves - what engineers are being asked to deliver (think sustainable, resilient infrastructure that minimizes lifecycle costs while increasing lifecycle returns) is occurring and 3) Production and the future of work, - software is being built that enables computers and machines to collaborate with people to design and build in new ways is starting to occur. Artificial intelligence and robotics are going to create entirely new careers we haven't even imagined yet within the infrastructure & construction industries.

In the industry itself, we see that these emerging technologies can and most likely will change infrastructure needs in the future that could render some infrastructure types obsolete, or create entirely new needs never thought of 10 years ago. For example, think about the infrastructure design and construction implications of the broad adoption of autonomous vehicles. This could significantly shift traffic from public transit back to cars, reducing it while increasing road traffic and altering traffic flow patterns everywhere. Self-driving vehicles could also increase road capacity as vehicle-to-vehicle communications enables tighter vehicle spacing, while at the same time making more use of the existing assets we have and then actually causing a reduction in road and highway spend traditionally used for increasing capacity that is now accomplished by autonomous spacing. So much to think about. But to be prepared firms have to change. Ultimately, the digitalization of the infrastructure workflow and ecosystem will transform the way infrastructure is planned, designed, built and used and while it may reduce some traditional business needs, it will open much more in its place for firms willing to change with the times.

3. In terms of BIM, Autodesk is a world leader - what are the most exciting new uses of BIM, and what you will drive to increase productivity in the infrastructure sector in 2017

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the nexus of designing, building, and operating. Embraced and adopted by governments and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms across the globe for its capabilities to reduce cost and improve quality, BIM is now at what the late Andy Grove of Intel would call "a strategic inflection point." BIM mandates, standards, and guidelines are occurring all over the globe within different federal agencies, state and local governments as well as infrastructure owners requirements. New connected BIM workflows can make it easier than ever to get the job done and to innovate and capitalize on new business opportunities, via:

  • Connecting Insight – Capture, create, and compute enormous amounts of data and evaluate alternatives in a real world context. Insight early in the design phase supports "best possible" vs. "best practical" performance of completed projects. Enabled by the cloud and mobility and generative design, virtual and augmented reality technologies, software is becoming an advisor in the design and engineering process, optimizing designs and aiding teams in making informed decisions before breaking ground in a fraction of the time.
  •  Connecting Delivery – Integrate design to fabrication to the construction process more seamlessly. Extend digitalization to the construction site, with sensors, drones, intelligent machines and mobile devices enabled by a BIM-connected cloud platform. Seamless integration of the design-build processes translates intent to execution, further saving time and money.
  •  Connecting Assets – Huge amounts of data are now available and connected technology helps to make the data useful across the lifecycle of the project. Learn from operational data gathered across the life cycle for continuous improvement of decision making. Gather data through sensors and connected devices (IoT) to inform maintenance decisions, more efficient and adaptive operations, and future design or process improvements.
  •  Connecting Teams – Put the project in the center from the start. Stay up to date in the office and on the project job site, using the cloud, connected data, and systems to unlock capabilities to share and collaborate across the lifecycle in real time without barriers. And as joint ventures become more prevalent in the industry, Autodesk helps connect teams whether they are on different city blocks or in different cities.

4. For your professional success, what is the most interesting book that you have read? Why?

Generally, I read a lot of books from military leaders especially those in our special forces and all are interesting and inspiring. Not for the stories of the engagements and battles themselves, but the thought process that goes into planning and execution of these very complex actions that require a multitude of contingency plans and an even more intense level of attention to detail. Things will go wrong but comprehensive planning includes actions for when it happens not if it happens.

The leadership lessons from those leaders are very valuable, such as:

  • Leaders make the decisions, shoulder the burden and live with the results if all insights were valued in making that decision.
  • Certain isn't the same as right, where sticking stubbornly to your own opinion is a sure way to make unnecessary mistakes.
  • Leaders set achievable goals – then achieve them by narrowing focus and the field of vision as this often makes you end up seeing more.
  • Leaders think strategically about the impact they're having not on those that are forced to follow but on those they aspire to lead.

Many of the things that make good leaders for these team's parallel business to a certain extent and can make good business leaders there as well.

 

August 23, 2016 - Nicolas Theberge, Senior vice president, Hatch

NicolasHatch

1. Tell us about Hatch - now that you have split from Mott McDonald, what are you objectives in the North American market?

Hatch was created in 1955 and since then has been working in Canada, USA, Australia, South Africa and many other countries. Since 1996, the projects related to infrastructure were delivered through a consortium called Hatch Mott MacDonald for Canada and the United States, but Hatch was still involved in mines, metals, and energy projects in North America in the meantime. Since March, both parent companies, Hatch and Mott MacDonald, agreed to continue their growth individually. So since then, both Hatch and Mott MacDonald have continued their development in Canada and the US. The plan for Hatch now is to continue its growth in transportation & logistics, urban solutions, and water & environment. We will continue to be one of the best solutions for our clients.

2. You seem to have a wide variety of experience, can you tell us a little about your background and career?

After I finished my degree in civil engineering, I joined a small firm based in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu that was specialized in municipal engineering. After many years there, plus completing my master's degree in urban hydrology, I became Director General of a city called East Angus, then Acton Vale, and finally Victoriaville in Qc. So for 12 years, I was on the client side, understanding their needs and their reality. I then joined HMM in Montreal in 2006. As bizarre as it sounds, since Hatch was created in Québec and Hatch had more than 800 staff in MTL, HMM was almost nonexistent in that market. So my role for the following 6 years was to grow that office, and now Hatch in MTL is considered in the top 3 firms for transportation & logistics. I also had the charge of looking after our Canada Atlantic division and bringing back the profitability of that region. Now, I'm looking after the transportation & logistics segment of our infrastructure group for North America.

3. What is the most interesting project on which you have worked? Why?

Probably the most interesting project that I've worked on was the retrofit of an existing 3 mile long rail tunnel under the Mont-Royal mountain in Downtown Montreal. This project was challenging since this tunnel was more than 100 years old and there was no NFPA standard back then. So we had to work with many different stakeholders with different interests to find a suitable solution to make sure that we would bring an innovative solution that will make this tunnel safer with a minimal cost. The aspect that I appreciated the most was the interaction with many groups and understanding their position and helping them understand that we were all looking for the same result at the end.

4. What's the most important thing for you in keeping your employees motivated?

Empowerment, of course. But I feel that this word has been used too much with too much variation that today is a buzz word with little meaning in some cases. But I really think that we have to agree that others do things differently than us and that is OK. From there, we have to let our employees do their best and agree that at the end, the result will be good. It takes a bit of ''abandon'' to be able to do that, but the reward of keeping your team motivated and focused is much bigger.

5. What's the last book you read?

I'm actually reading ''Bold – How to Go Bid, Create Wealth and Impact the World'', by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. I really recommend it to everyone. Those guys are real inspirations. And I always keep a copy of ''Art of War'' from Sun Tzu. I read a couple of pages from time to time, just to remind me of what I should do. I've read it probably more than 20 times since 1996.

 

May 24, 2016 - Vincent ruddy, vice president, emerging markets, enterprise growth solutions chief growth officer for latin america

VinceRuddy
Ruddy´s role in AECOM is to grow the firm´s business in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to developing the firm´s recently launched LATAM growth strategy, Ruddy has led the creation of a new Joint Venture in Brazil (AECOM-KNJ), and has spearheaded other key partnerships, including new strategic alliances with regional and global financial services companies.

Questions and Answers (Spanish below)

1. You have been with AECOM for several years. How did you get to AECOM and how have you seen the company change?

My entry into AECOM goes back to 1995, when I first joined The Services Group (TSG), a firm specialized in International Development consulting. TSG was acquired by AECOM eight years ago, as part of its growth strategy targeting emerging market regions. I had left TSG prior to the acquisition, but by maintaining good relations with its principles who stayed on, I was able to re-connect. This happened back in October of 2013, when I re-joined the much larger company called AECOM, and began my present position.

The biggest change I have seen at AECOM took place toward the end of 2014, when AECOM acquired another large engineering and construction firm, URS, along with Hunt Construction.This process more than doubled our size, and catapulted AECOM to a new level as a fully integrated, one-stop-shop for infrastructure development. Now we have a full range of specialists, ranging from planners, designers, and architects, to environmental specialists, engineers, and construction experts, across virtually all sectors and end markets. Combining these firms together, and building on other strategic acquisitions over the firm´s exciting history, has transformed AECOM into a major global player,"built to deliver a better world."

2. What has been the most interesting / gratifying event in your career?

It is hard to place one above all the others, but I definitely enjoyed negotiating, and then leading implementation of the $460 million Compact financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation in the Northern Zone of El Salvador, Central America. This was an ambitious, multi-faceted 5-year initiative aimed at reducing poverty via strategic investments in a variety of infrastructure, education, and productive development projects. Among other things, the team I worked with successfully designed and built the Longitudinal del Norte, a transnational highway with 3 major bridges and several interesting engineering and construction challenges. We also built and expanded some 23 schools, installed some 81 water and sanitation systems, built a large number of rural feeder roads, and supported small farmers with training programs and a variety of technical and financial assistance. I was particularly proud of the Public Private Partnership we achieved with U.S. energy giant AES—this was the first PPP executed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, connecting over 23,000 families to the grid, who previously did not have access to electricity. When it was over, the Salvadorans opened a new chapter of opportunity, and the program has become a symbol of collaborative success and friendship between our countries.

3. AECOM brings a very strong program management focus to its work. What does that mean for the projects you are involved with?

It means that projects get done on time, under budget, with high quality standards that bring satisfaction to our clients, and confidence to the investors, lenders, and underwriters who help to raise capital necessary for projects to become a reality. Program management is a vital tool and discipline when it comes to larger infrastructure projects with several separate but interlocking pieces. AECOM uses it for the turn-key projects we design and build using our own teams. We also deploy Program Management teams on behalf of clients where other firms perform construction and other services. Applications can be quite diverse, ranging from Program Management Offices set up to support disaster recovery and reconstruction exercises, to large port projects, hydroelectric plants, and construction and management of entire cities.

4. Tell us about AECOM's history in Latin America. Are there any AECOM projects that stand out?

AECOM has a long history in Latin America, spanning several decades. AECOM had a number of offices in a set of regional countries, while URS had its own collection of offices and specialized teams. After our merger, we combined them and achieved quite an extensive footprint in the region—at present, permanent offices in nine regional countries, and project offices in another ten. Our service offering is particularly strong in program and construction management, environmental services, water and wastewater systems, transportation infrastructure, and energy.

While our most famous, iconic projects can be found in the U.S. and other more developed markets (e.g., the new World Trade Center building in New York City whose construction was led by AECOM subsidiary Tishman Construction), we also have a growing portfolio of noteworthy projects in Latin America. AECOM has supported the Panama Canal Authority with design and engineering services associated with expansion of the canal. Our work on Latin America´s first Fluvial Transport Concession (Rio Magdalena, Colombia) has been recognized as a pioneering undertaking. And among our most recent regional projects, there is one that will receive particular attention this coming August: the Olympic Park in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. AECOM produced the master plan and performed other services for this major undertaking, bolstered by our industry leading sports facilities and major events teams.

5. How do you see the Latin American infrastructure market these days? What should people know about AECOM's capabilities in the region?

When it comes to private investment in infrastructure, Latin America remains the leader among emerging market regions. Over the past 2 decades, many regional governments invested in legal and regulatory reform aimed at opening up infrastructure to private investment in various forms. The benefits of this are now apparent, as many countries are experiencing great fiscal challenges owing to falling prices of oil, gas, and other commodities. Unable to cover infrastructure investment needs with public funds, governments are increasingly looking to the private sector to come into the picture. Those that undertook reforms in past years, are generally far ahead of others who did not, when it comes to the present situation.

What people should know about AECOM´s regional capabilities, is that we offer a comprehensive rane of services, and are able to provide whatever is required in an integrated fashion, helping projects move from conceptualization to completion quickly, economically, and with great success. With almost 100,000 employees working in 150 countries around the world, our network is vast, and it allows us to provide best-in-class services. We consistently rank among the top design and engineering firms world-wide, and are seen as one of the most admired companies, as well ethical.

6. What kinds of changes do you anticipate in the infrastructure market in the years ahead?

There will be a shift in the market favoring companies that can successfully combine and integrate a wide variety of both technical and financial disciplines. Clients are realizing that it is complicated and time consuming to divide up projects, procure services in a piecemeal fashion, and expect all the elements to come together on time and under budget. Infrastructure developers must now address complex issues such as climate change, along with other environmental and social challenges. And since clients often lack the full amount of resources required to design and build projects on their own, they will increasingly need to structure tenders so that financing is included. Developing bankable projects, including all of the requisite planning, feasibility, social and environmental impact studies, is the name of the game.

The most competitive players in this new market, will be those that anticipate and understand these trends, and shape their companies so that they can provide a full range of technical and financial services. They will make Public Private Partnerships a strategic priority, targeting concessions, "iniciativas privadas," and other forms of privately developed and/or managed infrastructure assets. Engineering and construction companies will need expanded capabilities, including social, environmental, financial, and risk management specialists. Perhaps most importantly, they will need robust Program Management and Construction Management capabilities, as this service offering will effectively become the core tool for integrating and delivering the various pieces of the puzzle in an efficient and effective manner.

7. Tell us about a book that you enjoyed recently.

The Path Between the Seas, by David McCullough. For me, this is the quintessential narrative history of one of the most significant infrastructure projects of all times: the Panama Canal. It tells the full history of this amazing project, including the colorful politics and international intrigues that accompanied the project from its early days under French leadership, to the later stages after the U.S. came in. I also enjoyed this due to the lessons one might draw from this monumental challenge, and their likely relevance to major infrastructure projects of today. I find it particularly illuminating when considering recent proposals to develop new canals across Central America—including the one proposed for Nicaragua, and a competing idea for a Dry Canal through Costa Rica.

____

El rol de Ruddy en AECOM, es hacer crecer los negocios de la firma en la region de América Latina y el Caribe. Además de haber desarrollado la nueva estrategia de crecimiento en Latinoamérica, Ruddy lideró la creación del consorcio AECOM-KNJ en Brasil, y ha encabezado otras sociedades clave, incluyendo nuevas alianzas estratégicas con compañías de servicios financieros, tanto globales como de la región.

Entrevista

1. Usted ha estado trabajando para AECOM por muchos años. ¿Cómo entró a AECOM y qué cambios ha visto los cambios en la compañía?

Ingresé a AECOM en 1995, cuando formaba parte de The Services Group (TSG), una firma especializada en consultoría de desarrollo internacional. TSG fue adquirida por AECOM ocho años atrás, como parte de la estrategia de la compañía de apuntar a regiones con mercados emergentes. Si bien había dejado TSG antes de esta adquisición, logré re-conectarme gracias a la buena relación que mantuve con los profesionales de la compañía. Esto sucedió en Octubre de 2013, cuando volví a unirme a la compañía, ahora devenida en una firma de gran escala - AECOM - y comencé a trabajar en mi actual puesto.

El mayor cambio que he visto en AECOM fue a fines del año 2014, cuando AECOM adquirió otra compañía importante de ingeniería y construcción, URS, junto con Hunt Construcciones. Este proceso duplicó el tamaño de la firma, y disparó a AECOM hacia un nuevo nivel, como empresa totalmente integrada, ofreciendo todo el rango de servicios para el desarrollo de infraestructura. Ahora, tenemos un rango completo de profesionales, desde planificadores, diseñadores y arquitectos, hasta especialistas ambientales, ingenieros y expertos en la construcción, abarcando todos los sectores y mercados del negocio. La combinación e integración de estas firmas, junto con otras adquisiciones estratégicas sucedidas a lo largo de la apasionante historia de la compañía, han transformado a AECOM en una de las protagonistas a nivel mundial, "construida para brindar un mundo mejor".

2. ¿Cuál ha sido el evento más gratificante de su carrera?

Resulta difícil dar importancia a un evento sobre otros, pero definitivamente, disfruté mucho de la negociación, y luego de liderar la implementación del Compact (pacto) del Millennium Challenge Corporation en la zona norte de El Salvador, una iniciativa de US$ 460 Millones. Ésta fue una multifacética y ambiciosa iniciativa de 5 años de duración, tendiente a reducir la pobreza a partir de la inversión estratégica en infraestructura, educación y proyectos de desarrollo de la productividad. Entre otras cosas, el equipo con el que trabajé, diseñó y construyó exitosamente el proyecto Longitudinal del Norte, una autopista transnacional, con 3 puentes importantes, y varios e interesantes desafíos de ingeniería y construcción. Adicionalmente, edificamos y ampliamos alrededor de 23 escuelas, instalamos 81 sistemas de agua y saneamiento, construimos gran número de caminos rurales, y le dimos soporte a pequeños productores agropecuarios a partir de programas de entrenamiento y asistencia técnica y financiera. Particularmente, estuve muy orgulloso de la Asociación Público Privada (PPP) que logramos con AES, el gigante del sector energético de EEUU. Esta fue la primer PPP ejecutada por Millennium Challenge Corporation, conectando a la red a más de 23.000 familias que antes no tenían acceso a la electricidad. Una vez culminado este proyecto, los salvadoreños comenzaron un nuevo capítulo de oportunidades en sus vidas, y el programa se convirtió en símbolo de éxito colaborativo y amistad entre dos países.

3. AECOM pone en su trabajo un sólido enfoque de gestion de programas. ¿Qué implica esto en los proyectos en los que usted está involucrado?

Implica que los proyectos se ejecutan a tiempo, en presupuesto y con altos estándares de calidad, dando satisfacción a nuestros clientes y confianza a inversores, organismos de financiamiento y aseguradoras que hacen posible obtener el capital necesario para hacer de los proyectos una realidad. La Gestión de Programas (Program Management) es una herramienta y disciplina vital, especialmente en grandes proyectos de infraestructura compuestos de muchas partes separadas, pero a su vez, interconectadas. AECOM emplea esta práctica en proyectos llave en mano, que diseñamos y construimos con nuestros propios equipos. También desplegamos esta práctica en representación de clientes, cuando otras empresas realizan la construcción y otros servicios. Las aplicaciones son muy diversas, teniendo desde Oficinas de
Gestión de Programa establecidas para dar apoyo a la recuperación y reconstrucción posterior a catástrofes, hasta grandes proyectos de puertos, plantas hidroeléctricas y construcción y gerenciamiento de ciudades enteras.

4. ¿Podría contarnos acerca de la historia de AECOM en América Latina? ¿Hay algún proyecto de AECOM que se destaque?

AECOM tiene una larga historia en América Latina,a lo largo de varias décadas. AECOM ha tenido oficinas en un conjunto de países de la región, mientras que URS tuvo su propio grupo de oficinas y equipos especializados. Luego de la fusión de estas empresas, combinamos estos grupos de oficinas y profesionales, cubriendo extensivamente la región. Actualmente, tenemos oficinas permanentes en nueve países de la región, y oficinas de proyectos en otros diez países. Nuestra oferta de servicios es particularmente fuerte en gerenciamiento de programas y proyectos de construcción, servicios ambientales, de agua y saneamiento, infraestructura de transporte, y energía.

Mientras que nuestros proyectos más famosos e icónicos se encuentran localizados en Estados Unidos y otros mercados más desarrollados (por ejemplo, el nuevo edificio del World Trade Center en Nueva York, cuya construcción fue liderada por Tishman Construction, subsidiaria de AECOM), también tenemos un creciente portfolio de notables proyectos en América Latina. AECOM dio apoyo a la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá con el diseño y prestación de servicios de ingeniería asociados a la expansión del canal. Nuestra labor en la primer Concesión de Transporte Fluvial de América Latina (Río Magdalena, Colombia), fue reconocida como una iniciativa pionera. Entre nuestros proyectos regionales más recientes, la Villa Olímpica de Río de Janeiro, Brasil, recibirá particular atención durante el próximo mes de agosto. AECOM realizó el plan maestro y prestó otros servicios para la ejecución de este gran proyecto; servicios reforzados gracias a nuestras instalaciones deportivas líderes en la industria y los equipos de grandes eventos.

5. ¿Cómo ve al actual mercado Latinoamericano de infraestructura? ¿Qué debería conocer la gente acerca de las capacidades y prestaciones de AECOM en la región?

En cuanto a la inversión privada en infraestructura, América Latina sigue siendo el líder entre las regiones de mercados emergentes. Durante las últimas dos décadas, muchos gobiernos regionales invirtieron en la reforma del marco legal y regulatorio para abrir el sector infraestructura a la inversión privada, bajo diversas formas. Los beneficios de esto son ahora evidentes, ya que muchos países están experimentando grandes desafíos fiscales debido a la caída de los precios del petróleo, gas y otras materias primas. Siendo incapaces de cubrir las necesidades de inversión en infraestructura con fondos públicos, los gobiernos están buscando cada vez más la participación del sector privado. Los países que emprendieron reformas en los últimos años, están actualmente, por lo general, muy por delante de otros que no lo hicieron.

En lo referente a lo que la gente debería saber acerca de las capacidades de AECOM en la región, nosotros ofrecemos un amplio rango de servicios, y somos capaces de proveer todo lo que sea requerido de manera integrada, ayudando a movilizar a los proyectos, desde su conceptualización hasta su concreción, de manera rápida, económica y con gran éxito. Con casi 100.000 empleados trabajando en 150 países de todo el mundo, nuestra red es vasta y nos permite proveer los mejores servicios del mercado. Constantemente, estamos rankeados entre las compañías de diseño e ingeniería líderes del mundo, y estamos vistos como una de las firmas más admiradas y éticas del mercado.

6. ¿Qué clase de cambios usted anticipa que experimentará el mercado de la infraestructura en los próximos años?

Habrá un cambio en el mercado, favoreciendo a las empresas que puedan combinar e integrar exitosamente una amplia variedad de disciplinas tanto técnicas, como financieras. Los clientes se están dando cuenta de que es complicado y requiere mucho tiempo dividir los proyectos y la contratación de servicios en porciones, y esperar que todos estos elementos se unan dentro del plazo y presupuesto programados. Los desarrolladores de proyectos infraestructura deben ahora hacer frente a cuestiones complejas como puede ser el cambio climático, junto con otros problemas ambientales y sociales. Y puesto que los clientes a menudo carecen de la cantidad total de recursos necesarios para diseñar y construir proyectos por su cuenta, necesitarán cada vez más poder estructurar sus licitaciones de forma tal que se incluya la financiación de la infraestructura. El desarrollo de proyectos financiables, incluyendo toda la planificación necesaria, viabilidad, estudios de impacto social y ambiental, serán clave y parte del juego.

En este juego y nuevo mercado, los jugadores más competitivos serán aquellos que puedan anticiparse y entender estas tendencias, dando forma a sus empresas para que puedan proporcionar una gama completa de servicios técnicos y financieros. Ellos harán del esquema de asociaciones público-privadas una prioridad estratégica, y se orientarán a concesiones, "iniciativas privadas", y a otras formas de desarrollo y/o gerenciamiento de infraestructura de manera privada. Las empresas de ingeniería y construcción necesitarán ampliar sus capacidades, incluyendo especialistas en gestión de riesgos financieros, medioambientales y sociales. Tal vez lo más importante, es que necesitarán sólidas capacidades de gestión de programas y de manejo de la construcción, ya que esta oferta de servicios se convertirá efectivamente en la herramienta básica para la integración y la entrega de las distintas piezas del rompecabezas de una manera eficiente y eficaz.

7. Cuéntenos acerca de algún libro que haya disfrutado recientemente.

"Un Camino Entre Dos Mares", de David McCullough. Para mí, esta es la narrativa por excelencia acerca de la historia de uno de los proyectos de infraestructura más significativos de todos los tiempos: el Canal de Panamá. Este libro cuenta la historia completa de este apasionante proyecto, incluyendo el colorido clima político e intrigas a nivel internacional, que acompañaron al proyecto desde sus inicios bajo el liderazgo francés, hasta sus últimas etapas, luego de que EEUU continúe la empresa. También lo disfruté mucho debido a las lecciones que uno podría extraer de este proyecto monumental, y su posible relevancia para grandes proyectos de infraestructura de nuestros días. Me parece especialmente esclarecedor al examinar las recientes propuestas de desarrollo de nuevos canales a través de América Central, incluyendo el propuesto por Nicaragua, y su competencia, la idea de ejecutar un canal seco a través de Costa Rica.

 

March 29, 2016 - Entrevista con Carlos Ortega, Director Senior de FTI Consulting

FTI Logo cmyk 100-55-10-48Carlos Ortega es Director Senior de FTI Consulting y lidera la oficina de Colombia para la práctica Soluciones para Construcción, con sede en Bogotá. FTI Consulting, una firma mundial de asesoramiento empresarial que proporciona soluciones multidisciplinarias, es un Gold Partner del Foro Latinoamericano.

CG/LA: ¿Como llegaste a incorporarte a FTI Consulting, y que es lo que diferencia a FTI de otras consultorías que trabajan en el sector de infraestructura?

Carlos: Yo me incorporé a FTI por un proyecto de consultoría al que me llamaron a apoyar en Atlanta, y de ahí me ofrecieron dirigir la apertura de la oficina de Colombia. FTI es una consultora especializada en Resolución de Disputas, lo cual la hace muy diferente a cualquier otra consultora de infraestructura. Nuestra especialidad es buscar asesorar a empresas constructoras, concesiones, y gobierno, en la implementación de mejores prácticas para la planeación y control de proyectos. Siendo expertos en arbitrajes, sabemos por qué los proyectos terminan en disputas y arbitrajes, por lo tanto, podemos ayudar a prevenir que se llegue a esas instancias, a través de mejor planeación y mejores controles.

CG/LA: FTI ha estado involucrado en algunos de los proyectos más complejos de Latinoamérica de los últimos años. ¿Estos proyectos tienen retos con características distintas a otros proyectos, o es que los retos sencillamente son de mayor escala?

Carlos: Adjunto el mapa de experiencia de los proyectos donde hemos trabajado en Latinoamérica. Hemos estado involucrados en diversos mega-proyectos en la región, principalmente en minería e infraestructura.

CG/LA: ¿Cuales son los errores más frecuentes que ves en la planeación o gestión de proyectos?

Carlos: En mi opinión, el mayor problema es que la planeación es inadecuada. En principio son muy pocas las compañías que tienes buenas prácticas de planeación (scheduling). En Latinoamérica, todavía se tiene la mala idea que el cronograma (schedule) es un requisito para entregar al cliente, y no como funciona en el resto del mundo donde es la base y el centro de la gerencia y control del proyecto. Es la herramienta que permite al PM tomar decisiones acertada, y asi poder prever y mitigar los riesgos. En Latinoamérica todavía vivimos en la cultura de vivir apagando incendios, en vez de prevenirlos.

CG/LA: ¿Como se podría mejorar la cultura de gerencia de proyectos en Latinoamérica?

Carlos: Creo que es un concepto y que hay que mejorarlo desde la educación. No hay cultura de planeación, hay cultura de reacción. Esto se debe cambiar. La buena planeación y el buen control previene tener que reaccionar (apagar incendios) tan frecuentemente. Estamos hablando de Construcción y eso hace que SIEMPRE haya cosas no previsibles. Pero este rango de imprevisibilidad puede ser reducido sustancialmente a través de buena planeación y buenos controles. Sin esto, nos volvemos improvisadores y no gerentes de proyectos. Esto es lo que ocurre hoy en día en LatAm y hay urgentemente que cambiarlo.

CG/LA: Mirando hacia el futuro, ¿cómo ves la evolución del trabajo de FTI Consulting en el sector de infraestructura?

Carlos: Creo que FTI Consulting va a ser un jugador MUY importante en la región, dado que trae conocimiento global, pero con personal local. Esta combinación hace que hayamos visto mejores maneras de hacer las cosas, pero entendiendo la cultura local y adaptando dichas prácticas a las condiciones y forma de trabajar locales.

CG/LA: Cuéntanos tu experiencia profesional favorita.

Carlos: Yo viví en Australia por 4 años, donde trabajé para una empresa muy grande de construcción llamada Leighton. Allá tuve el gusto de liderar el cambio cultural de la planeación simple y trabajo mental de Gerencia e Proyectos, a la implementación de herramientas de Gerencia, como Primavera ®. En ese entonces, 2006, conformamos un equipo de extranjeros que comenzamos a proponer un cambio de cultura de planeación y control dentro de la organización. Este cambio comenzó a dar MUY buenos resultados, donde nos ganamos 8 de 10 licitaciones donde participamos, dado que logramos mejorar el entendimiento y planeación de las licitaciones, y por consiguiente reducir el monto de contingencias de 9% a 5%. Esto nos hizo más competitivos, tener menores precios en nuestras propuestas pero sin tomar riesgos. Todo lo contrario, reducimos sustancialmente la exposición a riesgos de los proyectos que nos ganamos.

CG/LA: Háblanos de algunos libros que te han gustado recientemente.

Carlos: Leí un libro muy interesante que se llama Fearless Negotiating, de Michael Donaldson que me gusto mucho. Creo que esta muy en línea con lo que venimos hablando. Si uno planea una negociación, ANTES de comenzar, y tiene una estructura para esa planeación, la negociación va a ser mucho más fácil y sensata. Menos improvisación o 'gut feeling' y más actuar de acuerdo a lo planeado. Creo que esto es el principio de todo, y aplica para proyectos de la misma manera. Tener procesos y estándares, y poder repetirlos es la clave para evitar desvíos e improvisación.

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February 9, 2016 - Sylvester Kasuku, Director General, Lapsset corridor development authority

kasukuQuestion: Tell us why you are so excited about LAPSSET. 

Kasuku: The LAPSSET Corridor Project is the single largest, integrated and transformative infrastructure flagship project, championed by the Government of Kenya. The LAPSSET Project offers benefits that are paramount for the transformation of the region and the African continent. The project yields diverse impacts that will boost the position of Africa as the world growth frontier, owing to its gains that range from opening up the interiors of the African continent, providing unique large-scale infrastructure projects with high returns, and spurring social, economic and environmental development. The project has gained global recognition from investors due to its ability to augment the economic enabling environment by creating new markets and investment zones in the African continent. The African Union (AU) Heads of States and Government Orientation committee (HSGOC) credited the LAPSSET Project as one of the game-changer infrastructure projects in Africa through its admission to the Presidential Infrastructure Championship Initiative (PICI), in June 2015.

Question: What will LAPSSET mean to the rest of East Africa?

Kasuku: The project provides a crucial opportunity for economic growth among the East African Countries. LAPSSET Corridor creates an Economic Corridor with the objective of providing multiple East African nations access to a large-scale economic trade system. The Lamu Port will allow transport linkage between Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, and thereby serve as a promoter of socio-economic development in the region. The standard gauge railway system, highways, and crude oil pipeline will provide the much-needed connection to the port to enhance the transportation of goods and services from the land locked East African countries to the global market and vice versa.

Question: What key messages do you wish to deliver in your participation at the upcoming 9th Global Forum?

Kasuku: LAPSSET Corridor Project unveils numerous and unique investment opportunities to investors across the globe.

Question: What is the most interesting book you have read?

Kasuku: Blue Print for a Secure Energy Future by Barack Obama.

 

January 12, 2016 - Dave margolis, partner, bernard nickels & associates

profile-dave1Question: You are one of the leaders in Executive Search for the infrastructure industry - how did you get there?  

Margolis: Traditionally, one of BNA’s strengths has always been Information Technology and Engineering.

When the Great Recession hit in 2008 and the economy was in a tail spin we decided to focus heavily on The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or the Stimulus). Our mission was to analyze where these resources were being put to work.

This led us to the Energy and Utilities sector where we decided to aggressively pursue companies concentrated in Energy and Power.  The Utilities Sector has not seen this type of activity since the days of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla when they were going head to head regarding AC and DC Power. It was clear there was an industry renaissance happening.  When you combine Smart Grid Projects, T&D Upgrades, Storm Hardening, an abundance of Renewable Power Plants being put on line, Energy Efficiency in the MUSH market, and the domestic Shale Gas revolution you have the makings of a very dynamic and robust market place. This created a high demand for strong leaders and team players with these skill sets.

Many of these companies which became new clients also had needs in other areas of Infrastructure.  We’ve assisted them in securing talent in areas such as: wastewater, telecom, large civil projects and beyond.

Question: Can you share a success story with us - we are very interested in the results of your work, particularly since it’s often very difficult to find the right executive in a short period of time!

Margolis: A good success story to share is one focused on the Product Development Side of Infrastructure.  As infrastructure keeps evolving towards the Internet of Things (IOT) and M2M communication/automation, it is critical to find executives who not only have leadership qualities to meet corporate goals, but who also have the technical understanding and vision.  One of our clients, who are global leaders in Energy Management and Automation, is going through a massive upgrade in many of their core product lines in order to move into the IOT generation.  These products and softwares are critical to developing smart buildings, smart grids, smart power, and smart cities.  They were looking for the right Program Manager to lead this initiative.  Due to BNA’s deep understanding of the companies in the industry with similar goals and challenges, we were able to properly target the best and the brightest in the marketplace.  After many interviews with our clients' global leaders, we were able to secure the right leadership for this critical, high profile program.

Question: You conducted a very successful search for us, and we were super impressed by the quality of the candidates you shared - do you focus on relationships?  Analytics? Or some combination of the two?

Margolis: Our first focus is to take a proper diagnostic on what the client truly needs.  Once that is determined, we put our recruiting and staffing process to work. At BNA we have a strong research department, a deep database of industry relationships, as well as excellent comprehension of the industry.  We are very aggressive in connecting with prospective candidates and really take the time to understand where they are in their career.  Although we are relentless in our pursuits, our goal is create the right match to ensure a very natural process.  

Question: What are the hot areas of executive search now?  How has this changed over the last 12 months and what do you see as the hot areas in 2016?

Margolis: Executive Search covers every industry, so that is a very broad question.  From my vantage point, the areas in serious growth mode would be data analytics, IOT, M2M (Machine to Machine), and automation and how it will overlap with traditional infrastructure.  We have never experienced the sheer volume of data which is now touching each and every area of infrastructure around the globe.  This will lead to better executive decisions and higher quality of life when implemented.  However, this creates more risk from a cybersecurity and privacy perspective.  We are still in its early stages and it will continue to evolve in years to come. 

Question: This is an easy question for you, since every time we speak you mention 5-6, but what book are you reading now that you would recommend to the infrastructure community?  

Margolis: There are a couple that immediately come to mind:  “Start Up Nation:  The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”, “The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie” ,  and "Talent it Overrated – What really separates world class performers From Everybody Else”

 

October 20, 2015 - Levi Tillemann, Fellow, New America Foundation

tillemannhead small1. Your book is extraordinary, vivid and lively. You write about electric vehicles - how does this super rapid development change how we think about and prioritize our infrastructure? This 'where the puck is going' issue would seem to be critical for business development and policy making.
Cars are sort of like infrastructure in that they are a big capital-intensive investment that sticks around for a long time. In fact, the average American automobile is 11.4 years old. So when a car rolls off the dealer lot, it may well be a part of the capital stock for decades to come. That's still relatively short compared to most infrastructure (the average age of a U.S. bridge is 42 years old), but it nonetheless presents some similar structural issues in terms of investment and planning horizons.

America's transportation landscape is changing, and the number of cars that rely on new forms of infrastructure for fueling and navigation is increasing rapidly. There were almost no electric vehicles in the United States five years ago, and today that number is close to 350,000 with most of those sold in just the past 18-months.

One response to this challenge for infrastructure providers is what I call a "no regrets" design policy. This means including elements into infrastructure design that improve the extensibility of new energy and information technologies without increasing the cost. For instance, integrating the ducting for EV charging stations into a new parking garage is relatively cheap. But returning to that same garage years later to jackhammer out a concrete floor and lay the ducting later is both expensive and disruptive. I'd like to see more instances of companies and governments investing in this kind of "no regrets" design to help accelerate the eventual deployment of new technologies and, in the long run, save money.

2. How important is the development of battery technology to this story? Once you can store energy - not just in vehicles but on an industrial scale - the game changes, right? What does that mean for our infrastructure project priorities?
Batteries point squarely at one sector of the infrastructure space: energy. The ability to store large amounts of electricity will be critical to enabling massive deployment of renewable energy that can displace large amount of fossil fuel generation assets.

In some ways, batteries may end up reducing the requirements for electrical transmission infrastructure going forward. If people can run their homes on solar power and store enough electricity for the night in a relatively low cost battery bank that will significantly reduce the average American's reliance on the grid. New technologies are also coming online that facilitate grid-scale electrical storage and storage mandates in California are driving deployment.

But in many cases sophisticated balancing of renewables and other generation resources will be a cheaper alternative to batteries. That will require investment in a smarter, stronger and more resilient grid – perhaps one that is capable of transmitting renewable energy very long distances.

Of course, batteries are also key to the future of electric cars. By 2018, Tesla's "gigafactory" is supposed to reduce the cost of lithium ion batteries by more than a third and produce as many cells as all of global production in 2013. That's likely just the tip of this technological iceberg.

3. Are we going to own, or share, vehicles? How is the sharing economy going to change infrastructure project priorities? Do urban highways become more or less congested? Where are the opportunities going to be for infrastructure executives?
That's a lot of questions – enough to cover a few Ph.D. dissertations. So without getting too much into the weeds, I think that what is clear is that autonomous vehicles are going to enable car sharing that is dramatically cheaper and more convenient than either personal vehicle ownership or the car sharing systems we have today. Lyft and Uber demonstrate part of this potential, but at dramatically higher cost due to the presence of a driver.

In the long run, it seems almost inevitable that we will transition to a system of driverless, shared vehicles for most urban and suburban centers. Work vehicles and perhaps luxury vehicles may take longer to transition to a shared model than cars providing transportation to the average commuter.

4. How does this transformation - and we are talking about multiple transformation drivers - create more opportunities for private investors? How does it change the role of public sector executives?
From a policy perspective, the prospect of shared, autonomous and electrified cars complicates the case for mass transit systems like subways. Perhaps it pushes you toward more flexible infrastructure like bus rapid transit in the short and medium term. It also means that roads will be used much more efficiently. That might mean less road construction, but also building roads embedded with more sophisticated information technology.

A few things are certain: first, America is going to need enormous upgrades to its electrical grid to deal with the next generation of electrified vehicles. (Hydrogen fuel cells will also probably play a role sometime in the future.) Second, the shape of our cities is going to transform. Autonomous vehicles will generally not need to park. Instead they will rove from point to point picking up and dropping off passengers – which is a much more efficient use of scarce land and capital. Third, this transition is going to create enormous challenges and opportunities. Some estimates count as as many as 2 billion parking spaces in the U.S. (it's probably closer to 1 billion). Infrastructure providers and urban planners should start thinking about what we are going to do with all of that spare land.

5. What's the most important book you've read recently?
I really enjoyed Vaclav Smil's Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing. Smil paints a compelling picture of the technology, policy and economics that made America into the world's manufacturing juggernaut and the forces that are transforming the character of the U.S. economy today. His data-driven historical analysis is always thought-provoking.

To learn more visit http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Levi-Tillemann

 

October 13, 2015 - Virginia McAllister, Principal, Owner, Iron Horse Architects

mcallister1. You have been involved in some of the most challenging airport and transit projects in the U.S., tell us a bit about your business?
Our involvement in these challenging and ground-breaking aviation and transit projects came largely through two diverse tracts. We got into aviation through a clear choice to create a diverse practice. When I started Iron Horse we were focused on high-end, high-rise, multi-family, urban infill projects. We realized that specializing in a single industry was the kiss of death if that sector went south. I also had a strong interest in doing work that had an impact on the community. Building homes that I could not afford got tiring.

The transportation work came from the Great Recession. There was as we all remember. Every little work and what was there was ARRA funded. The Denver union station project was originally intended to be funded using REIT money. But at the time there was none available. So the developer ended up going the federal funding route. As a result they required DBE participation and we got our break/opportunity.

2. My understanding is that you are a leader in the application of BIM technologies in the infrastructure space. How has BIM changed your business? What can you do now that you couldn't do before?
As an early adopter of true BIM and not 3-D drawing for construction documents we have had many opportunities to participate at relatively high levels in some extraordinary projects. It should be emphasized that BIM is really no more that an integrated process, no better or worse than the people who implement it.

It is essential to have an integrated team both with the office and your consultants. Everyone must have a thorough understanding of the implementation of the process.

I think what we bring to the table that is truly innovative is the integrated practice from design to O&M. If the client is willing to invest they can use our work to operate their maintenance program.

3. Can you tell us about the project that you are most proud of? You've been involved in an incredible variety of successful projects.
On a personal level the work I am most proud of is creating an incredible business with a creative team of people dedicated to the concepts of Responsible Design. It has taken 10 years to create a firm that truly balances life work and has the opportunity to work on projects that really make an impact on our community. To that end I am proud of each and every project we work on. Our work for RTD on the FastTracks projects is innovative in the application of technology, it has created an iconic language for the city of Aurora, Colorado, and will truly bring the community together.

4. Why did you start your business? Wouldn't it have been easier to work for a large architecture firm?
I started the firm because I was exhausted from spending my life chasing after design solutions that I knew our clients could not afford, then spending more time undoing the same work. I felt that there had to be a way to do great design, run a successful practice, and have a life. There are still times when I have to work long hours because I lead by example, but my team for the most part works 40 hours a week. And we are still profitable.

I often tell the story about the cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for. When you start a firm you think you are doing it so you can spend all your time designing, and not have anyone tell you what to do. Instead you get to buy toilet paper, have sleepless nights worrying where the next project is coming from, and once in a while get to critique a design of one of the very talented people you have hired.

5. What is the most interesting book that you've read recently?
Drive... It is about what motivates people.

 

 

July 21, 2015 - Phil White, Partner, Dentons

Whitehead1. You are a senior partner with one of the largest law firms in the world. How do you see 2015 deal flow in the sector? Where is the most activity?
We are still seeing good deal flow outside North American and Europe, though the environment outside of the energy sector is still challenging.

2. If you were to just focus on the U.S. infrastructure market, what is the most surprising development in 2015?
The expansion of the infrastructure discussion beyond the usual suspects. With the cancelation or delay of so many large projects, thoughtful people in industry, finance and government who are not normally focused on infrastructure are beginning to be engaged and consider creative approaches. Your Blueprint 2025 is a perfect example, the President's budget proposal to expand the use of tax-free bonds to some privately operated infrastructure is another.

3. Dentons has been a great supporter of the Infrastructure Leadership Forum - what do you get out of the event? And what do you hope to get out of this year's North American Infrastructure Leadership Forum?
We get access to decision-makers and thought leaders. We also have the opportunity to participate in the discussion at a level higher than other events. This year, I want to see us advance the concrete actions contemplated by Blueprint 2025.

4. Tell us why you are so excited about the Blueprint 2025 initiative?
Instead of talking and planning, the goal - and result - will be a set of actionable steps for the next President to implement and get the kind of infrastructure under way that the US needs to stay competitive.

5. What is the most interesting book you've read this summer? Kindle, Nook, iPad or... book?
I read on both my Kindle and iPad. The most interesting book is "American Lion: Andrew Jackson" by Jon Meacham. Very instructive about another period of great division in US history.

For more, see www.dentons.com

 

 

July 14, 2015 - Terry Bennett, Senior Industry Strategist, Civil Infrastructure, Autodesk

bennetthead1. Why are you hosting the Role of CIOs in the Era of Connection symposium tomorrow in Washington, DC? Is big data really an issue (and opportunity) for architecture, engineering and construction firms?
The purpose of the event is to discuss the intersection of Information with business value. Given CIO's (both public and private) will be faced with a multitude of changes in technology and business processes the coming 5-7 years (ex. BIM and its future, the future of project mgt, shifting O&M data strategies, changes in the Future of How Things are made and the impact of cloud, mobile, social and big data on firms future and current business strategies) we thought a conference focused on them and these issues would be unique, enlightening and welcomed as their role as a key company decision maker within all AECO firms rises in importance and influence. Given the massive AEC spend to come and the explosion in IT around big data and connectivity – their time has arrived and we want to help make them prepared.

2. In the survey that we did with you, 56% of respondents see 'capitalizing on internal data as the area in which they see the greatest potential for productivity growth.' What are some of these opportunities?
I think there are many and the goal of this event is to work as a group to help identify those that are most important. But those that come to mind include:
· Using cloud computing to access vast amounts of processing power on demand – the so-called "Infinite Computing" so that even most complex analytical challenges will become routine, eventually, in-line, with the impact of a design or commercial change being seen in near real-time.
· Infinite computing to automatically explore the infinite range of design possibilities and land on the "best" solution – so called "generative design" enabling us to generate ideas from algorithms, and to analyze interconnected solution sets to improve building performance, infrastructure strategies to envision buildings & infrastructure which can better meet client and society's needs and be constructed efficiently and effectively.
· Searching for patterns horizontally across your portfolio of projects, or vertically through your historical projects, together with other data sources might help you identify everything from early signs of stress in your supply-chain, to better strategies for material hedging, to the best way to optimize cash-flow, to the root-cause for over-estimation in your bids

3. It seems to me - again looking at the Autodesk - CG/LA 2015 CIO Survey results - that there are all sorts of issues around the kind of data to collect, how to package and share that data within a firm, and how to make sure that the data has an influence on the firm's strategy. How are AECO firms doing in addressing these issues?
Very true and I think success varies by firm size, service industry (A/E/C/O mix) and vision set out by the CIO to the CEO. Big data is a phrase most commonly associated with the finance and retail sectors, but now for the first time in the history of AEC, by using BIM technology and related systems, you're starting to capture large amounts of highly trustworthy information. The question is, what might A/E/C/O organizations do with such capabilities? Today's decisions can no longer be made in silos, with limited insight. The good news is that this explosion in digital content is proving a stimulant for innovation to remove traditional barriers, shift to outcome based approaches to deliver the highest lifecycle return vs lowest lifecycle cost of the built environment. And that's poised to change the way in which we all think about, plan, design, build, finance, operate and maintain our built environment.

I am hoping during the discussion with participants, the CIOs can shed some light on best practices here. The obvious thing will be to use it to drive down the number of mistakes made in the real world, in everything from asset design to operations and maintenance – it's far cheaper to get it wrong virtually than in reality. The phrase "if only" should disappear from the lexicon of project planning, design & delivery...think of the boost this could deliver to your productivity... The not so obvious is what such environments might do for responding to the boom-and-bust effect on the talent pool. How do you get people up to speed quickly? Might such environments provide an alternative way to accelerate new recruits through the process of acquiring knowledge and being industry wise by 'learning in the context of the real world?

4. How does this initiative relate to Autodesk's 2014 Making the Grade Report, which produced a series of recommendations on how to get the U.S. infrastructure industry moving again? And while I'm at it, any idea on what you will do next year?
I would view it as a supporting structure, a peer of sorts. Making the Grade was a group of 45 different companies getting together to talk about how we promote, as a national imperative, regaining America's infrastructure leadership through a renewed commitment to infrastructure development both civil and social for the long term. It was a high level strategy and starting point to rekindle the foresight, initiative, investment, innovation, and hard labor that went into the development of a national public infrastructure that has served as the foundation for economic expansion, prosperity, and opportunity for successive generations of Americans. Part of rekindling the foresight is information and leveraging data and knowledge and the promise of what big data could provide into that process. As such now is the time for us to define what "Big Data" means not to finance or IT community but to the the A/E/C professionals and firms who are the ones to deliver our future built environment. As for what comes next – we'll know better once we learn from the CIOs and what they feel is the appropriate action plan to engage on.

5. You are an expert on generational change, and what that means for our industry - what have you read lately that is most compelling in helping us understand how the new generation is going to use infrastructure - and what kind of infrastructure they will want?
I recently completed a soon to be published virtual interview with Ken Gronbach, author of the book "Age Curve" to discuss the implications of his book as applied to the global infrastructure profession. His premise is as each generation ages, what they buy and how much they buy will change. Each product and service has a "best customer" that sustains a business and in reality means driving our economy. The upcoming Gen Y (echo-Boomers) are the largest generation in history – close to 100 million baby-boomer grandkids thus dwarfing the last large generation, their grandparents (Baby Boomers) at 78 million and even today's Gen-X (their parents), who are only 69 million strong.

With the much smaller Generation X (many of us) coming to our end of the buying cycle like the baby boomers before us- dramatic shifts in our built environment and what is important, what it looks like, and what we prioritize is pending. It will be Gen Y and their ideas that will shape our future just as the Baby Boomers shaped it during our industrial revolution. But this next industrial revolution will be a "connected era" shift where big data, sensors and 50B connected devices capture, share and leverage information as normal currency. It will be vastly different than that of their previous generations. They think differently – their opinions on social, economic and the environment are different and that will influence our future. With more of this generation living in urban centers (60-70%) their influence will shape the mobility requirements of those cities and what cities are for coming decades.

For more, see www.autodesk.com

 

January 12, 2015 - Chris McCormick, Director of Strategy and Project Finance, Reykjavík Geothermal

chris-mccormick1. Reykjavík Geothermal is the project developer for two geothermal projects, Corbetti and Ceboruco, that will be presented at the Global Forum. Can you briefly describe these projects, and explain why they are significant for their respective regions?
The Ceboruco project is a JV with Mexxus Drilling that was initiated in advance of the Mexican Energy Reform laws in anticipation that the Mexican market would inevitably open to outside development in geothermal. It happens to be one of two private projects sanctioned by CRE prior to reform and will be integrated into the concession process that will be administered by SENER as a result of these laws. For a number of reasons, the first project is a 30MW project but in a concession area that we anticipate has significant potential for expansion projects to achieve an additional 200 to 400MW of power.

2. What do RG's Corbetti and Ceboruco projects need in the next year to move forward successfully? What are the major hurdles?
Both projects have somewhat unique financing structures which enables an extremely low risk investment scenario as compared to geothermal and, to a large degree, energy projects in their respective regions. In both cases the consortium of development partners provide key technical and operational expertise.

3. Who are you most interested in meeting at the Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum? - (Equity / debt financing? Engineering firms with capacity? Government officials of other target countries?)
We are interested in meeting with parties who are willing to take a long-term view on geothermal development certainly with a bias toward investing in East Africa or Mexico respectively. The investment opportunities are structured differently, but both are compelling as compared to the mix of geothermal and power opportunities in these regions. As with all Reykjavik Geothermal projects, they are not dependent upon subsidies in order to be economically viable within the regions they target. We are particularly interested in partners who want to invest in the broader geothermal opportunity that will evolve from these projects.

4. What factors (aside from consistent and productive geothermal energy production) makes a geothermal project successful? How important is domestic public and private sector support?
Obviously geothermal is capital intensive but not fuel/variable cost intensive. Development occurring on technically ideal resources (such as Corbetti and Ceboruco) allows for the mitigation of risk more common on marginal projects. A key factor is appropriate levels of public support to assure that the very large amounts of pent up private capital can be deployed within these regions. RG has worked hard to resolve technical and financing challenges in order to allow private capital to flow. The most significant benefit of the public support is the reality that base load power derived from geothermal enables significant positive impact on the economy.

5. How do you see the growth in geothermal power sector over the next 5-10 years?
Mexico will become the largest geothermal market within 10 years; the only competing market will be East Africa.

6. Is the trend of building larger geothermal plants going to continue?
I think the trend of governments and development finance institutions looking for viable mechanisms to solve the very high initial exploration challenge will continue. Further, the trend for both private and DFI capital increases in developing economies will continue. Given the fact that significantly better resources exist than in the developing world, yes the trend toward larger projects. It is important to recognize that even these large projects will have stages of investment and development.

7. What's next on the horizon for RG?
Continued effort in developing economies that are receptive to growth strategies facilitated by private investment. We are active in a number of countries constantly monitoring for acceptable levels of political support conducive to development. Ethiopia and Mexico are countries where the foundation of political support resulted in a significant effort and investment by Reykjavik Geothermal and its partners.

For more, see www.rg.is

 

October 14, 2014 - Bryn Fosburgh, Sector Vice President, Trimble

Bryn Fosburgh1. What do you see as some of the biggest innovations that Trimble brings to the infrastructure market this year?
Trimble delivered on several innovations to the infrastructure market this year. We started by tying earthworks planning and linear project scheduling together with real time monitoring of mass haul operations. Trimble added technology solutions for drilling and piling to support rock cut excavation, construction and geotechnical foundations of bridges and structures. Trimble has worked with Bentley to deliver design to construct integration with I-Model technology and ProjectWise which breaks down the digital wall that existed between engineers and contractors. For owners, engineers and contractors we developed visual models of construction projects that incorporate design tolerances (quality), metrics (production) and automation of the civil information model changes (progress) to deliver more real time project information. We extended our ability to move from partial construction asset management to total asset management, which includes asset inspection utilizing RFID solutions. In what we see as a major infrastructure market breakthrough, Trimble delivered on a solution for horizontal and vertical construction integration that delivers a single platform for visualization and modeling. With this breakthrough we see the ability for owners, engineers and contractors to all have a single information platform for infrastructure project management.

2. Trimble is growing through acquisitions in a number of markets- how does this position you optimally in the infrastructure space?
Trimble completed it's global distribution strategy establishing 106 SITECH branded technology dealerships which provides consistency in the delivery and support of hardware, software and service solutions to the world. Our acquisitions and integrations move Trimble from a traditional field positioning point solution provider to the provider of total construction management that covers the owner, engineer, contractor in both the vertical and horizontal infrastructure space.

3. How did you get started in the infrastructure business? At Trimble?
Prior to Trimble, Mr. Fosburgh was a civil engineer and also held various positions for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Defense Mapping Agency. Mr. Fosburgh received a B.S. in geology from the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay in 1985 and an M.S. from the school of civil engineering at Purdue University in 1989. Mr. Fosburgh joined Trimble in 1994 and has held numerous roles, including vice president and general manager for Trimble's geomatics and engineering division, and division vice president of survey and infrastructure. Bryn Fosburgh currently serves as a sector vice president for Trimble's heavy and highway and building construction businesses, which include the Trimble Buildings Group, and the Caterpillar and Hilti-related joint ventures.

4. Trimble has been a long-time supporter of the Infrastructure Leadership Platform. What is your key focus, coming into this year's North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum?
For the upcoming Leadership Forum we want to connect with owners to answer questions and discuss solutions that cover end to end infrastructure operational metrics, progress management and risk reduction. Trimble is uniquely positioned to connect the owner and the project which we believe will lead to improved infrastructure outcomes.

For more, see www.trimble.com

 

September 30, 2014 - Phil White, Partner, Dentons

whitehead1. Dentons is growing through acquisitions, and you are now one of the largest law firms in the world (79 offices, 52 countries, and 2600 lawyers) - how does this help you to better serve your clients?
In many ways, but two major ones. First, when we merge with another firm we are extremely careful to ensure that the quality of the legal and client service will be consistent no matter where our clients require our service. With that given, as the infrastructure industry becomes increasingly global, we have a unique capacity to provide consistently high quality work and achieve the best results in more places around the world. Second, with people in more localities we are knowledgeable about the local needs of major projects and can mix that with our global expertise seamlessly.

2. Your background is interesting, coming from work on local infrastructure projects, and now working globally in a firm that can tackle the most complex deals - how does your background help?
When you work on local projects, the social and political imperatives of a project - and the consequences of not taking them to heart - are quite personal. While I am growing professionally from being part of a global team, my contribution is to bring those local imperatives to the forefront of the team and to help integrate them into an overall strategy for getting things done and overcoming obstacles.

3. What's the most interesting deal in which you've been involved? Why?
I have been fortunate enough to have such diverse projects as the unique bid selection issues on the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, addressing project integration issues on light rail projects in New Jersey, working on the first private intercity rail project in the US in several generations and resolving disputes over a power plant in The Philippines that were of such national significance that I negotiated with the Energy Minister. How could I choose one? Frankly, it's why I do this for a living: all of them get my juices flowing because of the unique challenges they present and the opportunity to help resolve them.

4. Why do you support the North American Leadership Forum, and why have you extended Dentons' support to the Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum?
Simply put, the Forums are unique in the opportunities they present and in their desire to make a difference in how our industry works. Most conferences focus on panels. The Forums focus on fostering the kind of relationships that are essential to the success of complex projects and providing a place for industry leaders to discuss our challenges with the goal of finding workable solutions.

5. What book are you reading now? Paper or tablet?
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Tablet, of course; it's more than 900 pages.

For more, see www.dentons.com

 

September 16, 2014 - Terry Bennett, Senior Industry Program Manager, Civil Infrastructure, Autodesk

bennetthead1. What do you see as some of the biggest innovations that Autodesk brings to the infrastructure market this year?
I can think of two. First is Autodesk InfraWorks. InfraWorks provides breakthrough 3D modeling, visualization technology and cloud capabilities well beyond traditional CAD and GIS platforms. It can be used through the desktop, web, or mobile to support Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows. It was designed to help civil engineers and planners better deliver projects, small and large, by more efficiently managing larger-scale infrastructure models created from existing data sources. We have been able to model entire cities to very good 3D resolution in just hours. This helps put the engineering designs in context from the start, and generate proposals at the appropriate level of detail. Additionally given the complexity of infrastructure projects today it allows planners and designers communicate to key broader audiences, including public and project stakeholders, in new ways with anytime, anywhere access to project scenarios. Infrastructure professionals can also improve team collaboration by sharing models centrally and more securely in the cloud. This is a great leap forward in bringing together many CAD, GIS, BIM and other data sources into a single view.

The other innovation which is really complimentary to InfraWorks is Autodesk Recap. Autodesk® ReCap™ is a family of products and services that allows you to easily clean, organize, and visualize massive datasets captured from reality and integrate that reality captured data into your planning & design or asset management process. Reality data is physical object and spatial information captured by sensors, such as laser scanners and photography. Whether you're using a terrestrial scanner, mobile laser scanner, a depth camera, a digital SLR or a smartphone, ReCap software works with data captured from those range of devices, interprets the reality data, depending on the capture technology used, (Laser Point Cloud, Real View, Photo Mesh, and Photo Point Cloud) and translates that data into meaningful and reliable 3D information that integrates seamlessly with Autodesk BIM software and workflow. Very powerful for rapidly capturing existing conditions accurately and using the information for planning, design, construction or even asset management tasks.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about how the Autodesk impacts the infrastructure industry in terms of the way people visualize and deliver strategic infrastructure?
Beyond the 30 year history of being the leading provider of solutions to planners, designers, contractors and owners of infrastructure worldwide it would be helping our customers through industry changes. Autodesk was a main driver in moving the world from analog/hand drawings to CAD, and recently helping the world move from CAD to digital modeling known as BIM. BIM in infrastructure has not only disrupted the traditional drafting/CAD process it has provided the platform for this most recent change in simulating all types of infrastructure systems together. This has led to the ability to transform the infrastructure and asset lifecycle, to increase productivity, improve efficiency, and lower costs. BIM has helped us gain greater insight with powerful analysis, simulation and visualization all while enabling a "single source of truth" to improve coordination from project to city scale.

One of the inevitable things about the infrastructure industry is the world is always changing both in the physical/natural sense but also in how we interact with it as citizens within our towns, cities through the supporting infrastructure we build. This means for our customers, we must now operate in a rapidly changing world. Technology changes how we plan, design and build infrastructure and Autodesk has always been central in helping our customers through those disruptive changes in their technology and showing where the opportunities lie. The pace of change in technology today and expectations from it are empowering planners, designers, contractors and owners and disrupting how infrastructure is made. The means of intellectual production are changing with cloud based solutions which enable virtual collaboration to provide a widened net of insight as people from around the world (who may never meet) collaborate to solve critical infrastructure challenges, and/or generate new ideas to age old problems. Coupled with infinite computing, it gives people access to unheard of computational power to model, visualize and simulate anything regardless of scale or complexity and share data through cloud, social and mobile technology.

As we move into this next generation of change with connected things - sensors, systems and people (Cisco estimates by 2020, 20 billion connected devices will be shipped annually and 50 billion will be in use), Autodesk will continue to provide BIM solutions for infrastructure professionals globally that help maximize social, economic, and environmental outcomes. The cloud going forward will empower technology to create the next disruption and we are developing technology and solutions for our customers to take advantage of it and can guide customers to this next generation of making strategic infrastructure.

3. We've seen what you've put together with Making the Grade. How do you see / hope the initiative will impact the US infra discussion at the Forum, and over the next year until the next MTG meeting?
My goal as well as those leaders who attended was to provide renewed optimism that we do know how to make our US infrastructure #1 in the world versus #14. The unique thing about this report is that it provides a comprehensive approach that applies to all infrastructure at all levels of government from local to federal. What we need is some serious long term vision to address this holistically, and not continue the band aid approach. The next 100 years is critical for what can happen with an infrastructure system inherited from the early 1950s and before in the U.S. We hope this initiative will start the process of a comprehensive approach to rethink how we plan, design and deliver infrastructure holistically. One of the challenges we need for people to understand, is we tend to take infrastructure and break it into a bunch of components, a bridge, a road, a pipe or a water system, etc. - how do we fix each? The challenge is that infrastructure is a system of systems with a bunch of integrated components. It has a huge impact on the economic engine, and it can be a drag or accelerator depending on its condition. The approach of the report which encompasses the input of 45 organizations: planning, engineering, construction and technology firms that represent the scope of the infrastructure industry, as well as local, state and federal governments, professional organizations, financial advisors, academics, and even policy making institutions was what are the best practices, metrics and frameworks that we can develop, so that if implemented, can move us away from emotionally deciding about infrastructure when there is a crisis, to quantitatively approaching it as a long term asset which it is. The ability to have a vision and plan that works regardless of the infrastructure type and regardless of the location that everyone understands would be something that has never taken place before.

To have infrastructure back into the public eye and daily conversation as Eisenhower did with our national interstate highway system, will require all infrastructure professionals to educate the public that without good infrastructure, you have a drag on GDP and jobs. Good infrastructure and a prosperous society go hand in hand. This report is a starting point to leverage and foster serious communications of the importance of infrastructure in our world. If we don't we run the risk of falling further behind in quality of infrastructure to other countries in the world.

4. How did you get started in the infrastructure business? At Autodesk?
Well I began during high school working summer jobs for the paper companies in northern New England. From Brown Company, to James River and Boise Cascade I spend the summers building roads and bridges for all the private industrial forest land holdings these companies had across northern Maine, NH and VT. I drove dump trucks, bulldozers, pulled rock rakes behind trucks to smooth the gravel roads, and hand spiked many a hemlock bridge deck to keep these companies transportation networks up and running.

I learned very early the connection between a high quality transportation network, the maintenance required to keep it in good working order, and the economic impact that quality infrastructure has on a company's profitability. Following college I continued in the forestry and surveying fields leading up to running and managing a civil/survey and geotechnical firm for a number of years where I designed and managed construction on all sorts of infrastructure projects – roads, streets, subdivisions, dams, water/sewer projects, landfill closures, septic systems and the like. While there we developed our own civil engineering software to run on top of AutoCAD and used it on all our projects. It wasn't long before most of the other firms we worked with asked the big question – can we buy a copy of your software? Buy? The light bulb went off, and shortly after we built up a civil engineering and architecture software company (Softdesk) selling AEC and Infrastructure software solutions all over the world. The company eventually went public and Autodesk acquired us in 1997 and the rest is history. We continue today to focus on leading edge, world class tools for infrastructure planning, design and construction.

5. What book are you reading now? Paper or tablet?
Currently I am reading on my IPad Man's Best Hero – True Stories of Great America Dogs by Ace Collins. It details the heroic actions by everyday dogs. From dogs that alerted soldiers of incoming mustard gas attacks and prevented ambushes in WW I to stories of heroism that pitted dogs against the odds and elements of nature protecting their masters, it offers wisdom, inspiration and unique insight on our 4 legged partners. Being a dog lover and trainer of hunting retrievers all my adult life, this collection of fascinating short stories has a valuable conclusions for the reader, and offers a lot of wisdom and inspiration.

For more, see www.autodesk.com

 

September 2, 2014 - Adrian Pellen, Director, Aon Risk Solutions, Aon Infrastructure Solutions

pellen1. Tell us why your solution is unique - What makes Aon Infrastructure successful?
Aon Infrastructure Solutions (AIS) consists of a very dynamic team of APD/P3 practitioners. Our team comprises individuals with expertise in subjects as varied as insurance and risk management, public policy, economics, law, procurement, finance, civil engineering and project management. Our experience differentiates us from our competitors in that we not only understand insurance and risk management matters, we also actively look to participate with our clients on leveraging all of our intellectual capital to help our clients win projects. For example, we have worked with the insurance industry to develop a liquid performance security solution that can provide an "on demand" cash injection into a project. In addition to diversifying their sources of capital on projects, this product also assists our clients by helping them to reduce their cost of capital, particularly as banks and other sources of credit must deleverage because of changing global capital requirements. We have been fortunate to earn the trust and continued business of our clients on their largest and most important projects. To that end, we are engaged on every active P3 project in the US. We believe a key to our success has been our ability to leverage our intellectual capital and relationships to provide our clients with the most innovative and best-in-class risk advice and solutions.

2. Are you seeing an increase in momentum in the US Alternative Project Delivery (P3) Market? If so, what are the drivers?
I would agree that we are seeing an increase in the number of projects in the US APD market. For example, in the United States there are currently over 20 projects in 14 states valued at over USD15 billion of construction value in active procurement. The increase is particularly noticeable in connection with transportation projects due largely to the success of the TIFIA program. In my opinion, wwater security is also a very important issue. I am encouraged by the passing of WIFIA and its potential impact on increasing the number of APD water projects in the US.

3. What is your next big challenge for insurance in US APD projects?
In my opinion, the risk and insurance industry is perfectly positioned to leverage its capital and experience in helping our clients to manage their risks on APD/P3 projects. Although there are a number of fixed cost insurance solutions for construction related risks, there are very few insurers in the US with the willingness to address the myriad of long-tail operation and maintenance (O&M) risks associated with APD projects. APD financial proposals require bidders to price O&M insurance costs for anywhere from 10 to 30+ years. In the current market, insurance costs for O&M risks cannot be guaranteed beyond the year in which they are placed during the O&M phase of the project and yet bids carrying large contingencies to address O&M insurance premium volatilities are less likely to be competitive. We are spending a significant amount of time collaborating with the insurance industry to develop tools and products that will help clients to reduce the cost volatility of insurance premiums for the O&M phase and are on the cusp of introducing an industry leading solution in this regard.

4. Tell us your story, and how you entered the infrastructure business.
Previously, I worked with Aon as an environmental insurance broker in Toronto Early on in my career, I became a key member of the advisory team that was tasked with creating and implementing bespoke environmental risk and insurance solutions for a large client actively engaged with APD projects. Through my work for this client, I ended up advising on a very significant number of all APD projects procured in Canada. I joined Aon Infrastructure Solutions (AIS) as a Director in February of this year to help grow our infrastructure business in the US. Currently, I lead Aon's efforts for a number of APD engagements and provide our clients with risk and insurance advice throughout the project procurement process.

5. What book are you reading right now?
Willing Change by Jane Collins. A great read to learn how to enhance your productivity by changing your everyday mindsets.

For more, see www.aon.com

 

August 19, 2014 - Michael Pompay, President, MMFX Technologies Corporation

pompayhead1. Tell us why your solution is unique - What makes MMFX so successful?
MMFX applies its material science technology to the construction industry through the production and sale of our unique MMFX2 rebar product. MMFX2 rebar is an uncoated corrosion resistant, high strength concrete reinforcing steel sold under the ASTM A1035 specification. The product is five times more corrosion resistant than conventional steel, allowing for longer service life (>100 years) and resulting in lower life-cycle costs. MMFX2 rebar is also twice as strong as conventional rebar (120 ksi vs 60 ksi), allowing for less steel, lower construction costs and shorter build times, as well as resolving congestion issues. The fact that it is uncoated and ductile allows the steel to be handled similarly to conventional rebar, and cut and bent using standard fabrication equipment, compared to other corrosion resistant products that rely on a coating or specialty steels that require special handling.

Further, the fact that the steel's advantageous properties are derived from its microstructure allows for its application in a long list of construction products beyond rebar for the infrastructure markets, such as anchor bolts, soil nails and micropiles that we offer through our partner Williams Form Engineering.

2. We hear you talk about "Value Engineering". Can you explain this concept, and how applying VE and how it impacts an infrastructure project's lifecycle?
"Value Engineering" is a disciplined methodology focused on achieving the essential functions of the structure over the expected useful life most efficiently. A common misconception is that value engineering simply means to cut first costs of construction, but this ignores the ultimate goal of meeting the essential functions over the life of the structure. For example, using the cheapest materials will surely lower construction costs, but it will also require higher maintenance costs and shorten the useful life of the structure. This is not true value engineering. True Value Engineers have to take into consideration all the essential functions desired and the target useful life. They must then select the combination of design and materials that most efficiently meet these objectives from construction through the replacement of the structure.

Thankfully we are seeing a shift in the industry to true value engineering, which means more bridges, roadways, dams, canals and ports are being built better from the start. We will reap the benefits of these investments for many years to come.

3. How does sustainability fit into your vision for Infrastructure design and creation?
The goal of sustainability fits extremely well in the value engineering concept. Both require efficient use of resources, i.e. doing more with less. There is no doubt in anybody's mind that our infrastructure needs to be revamped, repaired and replaced to keep up with growing populations, increased commerce and, frankly, to not fall down. As we rebuild our infrastructure, we should be looking to use the best methods and materials to create better built structures, more efficiently. MMFX rebar as an example provides higher strength of over 100 ksi (690 MPa), to which the industry has design guides and codes to utilize. Designing at the higher strength, reduces the steel required, the costs of fabrication and placement, as well as a long list of other cascading costs savings that equate to lower construction costs up front. In addition, MMFX2 rebar provides a longer service life for the structure through its corrosion resistance. This equates to substantial cost savings over the life of the structure. MMFX steel is simply a tool, an option for the value engineer to apply to his or her design.

In furtherance of the value engineering principles, MMFX does not purport that its rebar is the best for every application. If high strength or corrosion resistance is not required for the area of the structure in design, standard carbon steel or other product may more appropriately fit the value engineering goal. But, I submit that most infrastructure projects around the world can use high strength and corrosion resistant steel in some form or fashion.

4. What is your next big challenge? Is there a shift in MMFX's future?
No major shift is planned. We plan to continue to grow with the current trend of the construction industry toward the use of corrosion resistant and high-strength steels. The value engineering and sustainability concepts and methodologies are driving this trend, as owners and engineers identify the benefits derived from advanced materials and design. MMFX will also continue to expand our product lines through partnerships like we have with Williams Form Engineering.

5. What book are you reading right now?
I am currently reading The Talent Masters by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan. The book highlights how some best-in-class companies, like GE and Unilever, effectively manage their most valuable resource, their people. The authors take these real life approaches and boil them down to their essence, forming talent management principles applicable to most companies.

For more, see www.mmfx.com

 

August 5, 2014 - Mark Freedman, Senior Partner & Managing Director, & Jeff Hill, Partner & Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group

freedmanhead1. What do you see as the key trends to look for in the US infrastructure market in the near future (2015-2018)?
- Return to more normalized historical growth, with US as one of higher growth markets globally (if we include gas monetization-related infrastructure)
- Increasing project size and complexity
- Ongoing consolidation in the construction and engineering market – to enable economies of scale and learning curve
- More experimentation in delivery models: more experience in PPPs, increasing DB contracting, potential for brownfield privatizations (though no major transactions yet)
- Increasing focus on productivity and innovation – see next question

hillhead22. You have often highlighted the lack of productivity increase in the infrastructure business over the last 50 years, while other sectors have seen dramatic productivity increases. Is this likely to change going forward? What are the keys to increasing productivity?
- Yes, we think this is going to change – though slowly. In part, this will also be enabled and enforced via the ongoing consolidation. We see significant renewed focus by many of our clients on cost competitiveness and margin improvement driven by increasingly global competition and the challenge of low growth the past few years.
- One lever we believe is a significant opportunity is to improve the overall O&M maturity of the infrastructure sector. This would include everything from design to life cycle costs to lean management of the assets themselves. As we have pointed out in our recent publication with the WEF, there are many best-practice examples in how assets can be better utilized (e.g via demand mgt solutions), more cheaply operated (e.g. automation) and longer use (e.g. predictive maintenance, greater resilience). Many of these new approaches are enabled by the abundance of real-time data that is now available. Also many infra assets can be optimized to generate more revenues from ancillary businesses (such as retail for airports) or land value capture.
- Many innovations in building materials (e.g. self-healing asphalt), construction processes (e.g. pre-fabrication, modularization) and equipment are emerging that will advance construction productivity. Also we see in our client work with construction companies, that they increasingly request support in lean construction, large capital program mgt or procurement optimization to improve their efficiency. And the impact can be huge, typically a cost reduction of more than 10%
- Productivity increases need not only be the domain of private companies, the public sector also plays a key role. For example, in accelerating permitting and approval processes, simplifying land acquisition processes or in amending required specs in procurement to allow for more innovative design solutions.

3. Given the general funding uncertainty in the US market (no gas tax increase, very little pension fund participation, and even a lack of bank appetite for long-term infrastructure debt), how do you see the market evolving? Will the infrastructure market grow in 2015? 2016?
- Again we see very solid growth in the US market in 2015 and 2016. But it is worth bearing in mind that we are just now returning to pre-crisis levels of absolute spending. Longer term, unless a new compact is reached around transportation funding, the gas tax, etc., it will limit our ability to grow beyond this return to a better economic environment.
- Fortunately, there is growing public awareness of the state of our deteriorating infrastructure– thanks to initiatives such as the ASCE's Report Card, think tank reports and the CG/LA conferences.
- What is still required is a cross-party consensus that now it is time to act and provide more funding to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. The major issue is indeed funding (ie revenues) not financing. In fact, the biggest source of funding, the gas tax, has been fixed at the same level since 1993 (one of the lowest globally). On the other hand, private investors are ready to invest in infrastructure – but they are facing a poor pipeline of insufficiently bankable projects. The available funding will ultimately determine the growth of the infrastructure market in the coming years - but predictions are difficult since this is fundamentally a political decision.

4. Does it make sense to create a National Infrastructure Bank in the US, given that we are the only OECD country without that type of institutional funding resource?
- In general we think at a federal level getting a greater consensus on the importance of infrastructure and the link to GDP growth is critical. We are one of the few nations in which there is not a general political consensus across all parties on the importance of infrastructure. While not a "cure-all solution" to the US infrastructure crisis, a national infrastructure bank in that context, as one of many tools to tackle our infrastructure opportunities, is likely a good idea.
- A National Infrastructure Bank could serve as a center of excellence in project evaluation and preparation, and thus professionalize and de-politicize financing decisions. As it would build its track-record and experience over time, it could crowd-in/catalyze further private investment from global investors, e.g. long-term institutional investors such as insurance firms, pension funds and SWFs that do not have these evaluation capabilities and that could piggy-back on the bank assessments.
- An NIB could also provide financing and leverage learnings across different sectors of infrastructure, whereas TIFFIA, for example, is available focused on surface transport only. And the NIB could scale up these existing programs. An NIB could also target areas where financing is constrained currently, such as large projects, subordinated debt, long-term lending, and cross-jurisdictional projects
- Obviously, the set-up of such a bank is critical (eg governance structure, project eligibility criteria, ) and should be guided by a review of the issues in the US infra financing market considering its specificities, such as the strong municipal bond market, and leverage experiences from international peers (eg EIB, World Bank, ...) where applicable.

5. One of the big issues that we see - in states, federal agencies, and public authorities - is an incredible difficulty in selecting priority projects, and in creating a pipeline of well-prepared projects. What do you see as key criteria for project selection?
- In the past, project selection was often driven by political considerations and particular interest groups, and have been made in an isolated asset (rather than system) context. (eg "bridges to nowhere")
- Proper project selection should really be based on a long-term (not 5 years, really 20-50 years) plan that provides a vision for the whole infra system and the region.
- Methodologically, project selection needs to be based on a holistic cost-benefit analysis taking economic, social and environmental benefits into account and considering not only capex but also long-term O&M costs. The best solution may be more expensive to build, but may provide lower life-cycle costs or higher societal benefits over its lifetime. And this trade-off has to be managed carefully.
- Among the project options the planners should really think broad and not only consider new greenfield projects, but also brownfield expansions or smart/selective upgrades (such as dynamically opening an emergency lane to traffic) or demand mgt solutions – consider solutions across transport modes and their inter-connectivity (road, rail, BRT, ...)
- Project selection is also about screening out projects, and this option needs to build into the standard, multi-stage project selection process. A good example here is South Korea's PIMAC, which rigorously tests projects and kills those that are not beneficial.
- In addition, when private or PPP delivery is considered, the projects need not only be economically viable, they also need to be bankable, ie with a clear vision for how to monetize the project in a way that is mutually beneficial to society and the private sector, a consideration that many project planners in the public sector have not traditionally taken into account. This also requires factoring in speed: the ability to proceed on a commercial timetable vs. a classical government timeline
- To enable all of the above, it is essential to institutionalize project selection processes & governance and create independent review bodies for projects

6. You are smart guys, what books are you reading during your August vacation (sic)?
- Mark: Last Man in Tower, by Aravind Adiga (novel set in Mumbai real estate development world)
- Jeff: Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, by Robert Coram

For more, see www.bcg.com

 

March 17, 2014 - Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President, Autodesk

Headshot-Exec-Amar Hanspal-03.1280.12801. Tell us why your solution is unique - What makes Autodesk so successful?
For over 30 years, Autodesk has striven to provide software tools that help our customers imagine, design and create a better world. All that time, we have worked hard to put design and engineering tools in the hands of everyone; to truly democratize access to technology and empower our customers to do their best work.

We have built a track record of pioneering world-class tools in infrastructure, starting with AutoCAD, Revit and AutoCAD Civil 3D now serving as a primary Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools in the civil infrastructure toolkit. More recently, we've introduced InfraWorks 360, which adds an earlier stage design tool for urban planners and engineers to begin expanding a BIM-based workflow. We have customers that are doing conceptual designs for roads that are hundreds of kilometers long based on real-world data. That was never before possible.

The highly visual 3D models that our customers are creating at the conceptual stage now become the basis for a BIM workflow, and it is used all the way through engineering, construction and operation of the project decreasing time, cost, rework and risks to worker safety.

Over the next 25 years an estimated $53 trillion will need to be spent on infrastructure projects globally, as countries extend and maintain their water systems, electrical grids, road and rail networks, and airports. With such an enormous task in store, advances in technology are enabling better decision-making through better analysis of location data to help infrastructure, construction and building projects become a reality.

We are now combining the infinite power of cloud computing and the flexibility of mobile devices to allow numerous stakeholders to collaborate on projects and to do advanced visualizations and simulations that weren't possible on desktop systems alone. With over 10 million customers today, we now have government and engineering customers all over the world using these solutions for major ports, roads, bridges, rail projects and more — and they are calling it a game-changer.

2. Autodesk is involved in a series of highly complex, strategic, projects around the world - can you tell us something about 2-3 of the most interesting ones?
Our customers are using our software on a staggering number of infrastructure projects around the world -- everything from retrofitting intersections with roundabouts to massive and iconic projects, such as the expansion of the Panama Canal to rail systems in places as diverse as Vancouver, Riyadh and Singapore, to dams in China and airports in the US.

For example, at the Denver International Airport, a team 25 design firms and 10 construction firms spanning 25 different disciplines -- including Gensler, HNTB, AECOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff -- collaborated through a BIM process to design and begin construction of a new $500 million hotel and transit center. In Europe, a BIM for Infrastructure process is being employed by the City of Nijmegen in the Netherlands to change the course of 30 rivers to prevent future flooding. Called the "Room for River Waal" project, the systems engineering firm iNFRANEA is using BIM and Autodesk software tools to create and manage an integrated model for the entire project, which includes waterworks, earthworks, roads and three bridges in a complex environment.

In Central America, the 100-year-old Panama Canal is undergoing a massive expansion to double capacity and accommodate today's Post-Panamax ships. MWH Global, one of only two U.S. firms involved in an international joint venture design team called Consultores Internacionales (CICP), is using a BIM process and Autodesk software for their contribution to this $3.12 billion "Third Set of Locks" project. The MWH Global team has been using the design models to improve cross-discipline coordination and resolve design conflicts prior to construction. The project design includes several innovative design aspects, including state-of-the-art seismic analysis and the largest water-saving basins ever built, which save and reuse 60 percent of the fresh water used in the lock system.

3. How did you get into this business?
I'm an engineer by training. I love solving problems – that's what got me excited back in the day. On my first real project, still as a graduate student, I was working with a bunch of physicists designing experiments to detect high-energy particles. The combination of having a big dream and having to work on the tiny details to make it come true got me hooked. I saw the potential of software tools from design to analysis to visualization to help bridge that gap.

I'm nowhere as talented as our customers are. What I try really really hard to do is to listen to them and understand not the specific challenge they are facing but the overall context in which they are facing it. We are constantly striving to find the intersection of technology and real-world problems. As our CEO once said, 'we don't want to be too far ahead of our customers because that leads to non-us, and we don't want to be too far behind because that leads to obsolescence.'

We've been in this business a long time, but one our and my key motivations is the critical importance of infrastructure to global GDP growth and prosperity for everyone. The BIM software we started with in the world of architecture is making a huge impact — and can have a much larger impact — in the world of infrastructure. We truly believe that software can make a major contribution to tackling the huge infrastructure challenges that the world faces right now.

4. What is your next big challenge? Is there a shift in Autodesk's future?
Autodesk is already well into our transition to more and more cloud and mobile software. We see this as a great platform to empower even more potential users with the ability to design and engineer, from anywhere and at anytime. We will pursue the nearly unlimited computing power of the cloud for our customers to do advanced simulations and renderings. For example, our customers can now do energy simulations for buildings in two hours which previously took two weeks on desktop computers. We can model entire cities in 3D in a matter of hours, something that use to take weeks or months by specialists. We now have customers where jobsite workers using an iPad can make amendments or comments on a building information model for a road or a bridge project and that precise change is reflected in the same 3D model that the engineers are working on back at the office.

Beyond that, we are also thinking of the next generation of designers, engineers, architects and digital artists. Our customers have unfilled, high-paying positions due to the lack of qualified U.S. high school and university graduates. In concert with President Obama's ConnectED initiative in February, we announced that Autodesk will expand its Design the Future program, and make available $250 million of 3D design software, project-based curricula, training and certification to every middle and high school in the United States in 2014.

5. What are you reading right now?
I just finished "The Everything Store" by Brad Stone that talks about the founding and evolution of Amazon.com. Next up is Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing about Hard Things" (why running a company or project is hard). The last fiction book I read was "Wolf Hall" by Hillary Mantel.

6. How does sustainability fit into your vision for Infrastructure design and creation?
Sustainability is absolutely crucial in infrastructure design and construction. Just to take one example, the water delivery system in the United States is horribly inefficient. We lose a full day's water supply every week due to leaks in pipelines, inefficient plumping fixtures and other weak points in the system. With the current droughts in California and other parts of the Western US, this problem is reaching a crisis stage.

Our BIM solutions gives civil engineers intelligent model-based tools to factor in, simulate and optimize various sustainability parameters, such as energy and fuel use, construction material sources and waste, manage water treatment, distribution and flood control to cite a few examples. All told, we arm our customers to take a "triple bottom line" approach to help justify sustainable infrastructure project costs; increase grid efficiency and renewable energy generation; and protect sensitive habitats and landscapes.

For more, see www.autodesk.com

 

February 18, 2014 - Leigh Jasper, CEO, Aconex

jasperhead1. Tell us why your solution is unique - What makes Aconex so successful?
Infrastructure project managers, contractors and owners have plenty of technology at their disposal – for example, internal tools for scheduling, cost and records management. But the piece that's often missing is a platform for managing information and processes between the different organizations on a project. That's where the risks lie, whether operational, financial or reputational. And it's exactly where Aconex, a project-wide collaboration platform, delivers value.

We're used by nine of the ten largest EPCs in the world, and three things have driven that success.

First, Aconex is a neutral platform, independent of any one company on the project and used project-wide. That creates trust among all participants, so more information is captured, and it gives you visibility and control across the project.

Second, Aconex was developed from day one for complex construction and engineering projects, so standard industry processes and terminology are built into the platform. That makes a real difference in getting user buy-in and rolling out quickly at the start of a project.

The third factor is security. On a large infrastructure project, everyone wants to know that their information is secure and well-managed. Our biggest clients have pushed us to develop what I believe is the most secure environment in the world for managing project information – well beyond what most companies could afford to deploy on their own.

2. Aconex is involved in a series of highly complex, strategic, projects around the world - can you tell us something about 2-3 of the most interesting ones?
Qatar Rail is a US$40-billion project to build an integrated transportation network throughout the state of Qatar. This is a highly complex, multi-year infrastructure development that targets completion by the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) FasTracks and Capital Programs is the largest voter-approved transit expansion in the U.S. With more than US$5 billion either expended or committed to date, it entails nearly 40 projects involving more than 3,000 users from over 150 different organizations.

The North West Cambridge Development is the single largest capital project in the 800-year history of the University of Cambridge. The 15-year project will create an entire city to support the university's future growth requirements.

3. How did you get into this business?
I was a consultant at McKinsey around the year 2000, working with clients who were exploring how the internet could help them run their businesses better. My co-founder and friend Rob Phillpot was a construction manager with a large general contractor at the time, struggling with disconnected systems and paper-based processes on a major project. We started talking about work after a game of squash, and the idea for Aconex was born.

4. What is your next big challenge? Is there a shift in Aconex's future?
I've always been driven by the belief that we're transforming how the world is built, one project at a time. That's been a constant over the last 14 years, and I don't see it changing. What is shifting, and fast, is the industry's readiness to use technology as a differentiator. I think the leading construction and engineering firms are seeing that the convergence of the cloud, collaboration, mobility, analytics, and BIM can allow them to operate more efficiently, and to deliver a better asset to their customer. As a vendor, our greatest opportunity is to continue to develop our platform across all of those technologies.

5. What are you reading right now?
Arthur Herman's To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World. I'm fascinated by the similarities between then and now, as well as the rapid pace of global change.

6. Where do you see construction technology in five years?
We see it as being a critical success factor for contractors and owners in charge of complex projects. In fact, those who adopt the technology will be more competitive and profitable than those that don't. We expect collaborative project management using industry-specific tools to become common practice across all geographies. It will raise the standard of project performance and improve the quality of built assets.

For more, see www.aconex.com

 

January 14, 2014 - Nick Scully, Chief Operating Officer, Active Risk

scullyhead1. In what areas does Sword Active Risk operate?
Sword Active Risk makes risk management simple, valuable and personal. We provide the world's first risk management software that drives business performance by enhancing visibility, accountability and confidence at project, program and enterprise levels.

2. How are the benefits you provide project owners revolutionary?
Our flagship product, Active Risk Manager (ARM), collects risk data at the point at which it is encountered – whether on a project, in operations or company-wide and consolidates it into one place, in real time. ARM provides a system to record all risk-related information within an organisation and gives executives, risk professionals and project professionals a truly comprehensive view of the organisation's risk, issues and opportunities, instantly available via executive dashboards, alerts and reports.

Active Risk Manager is browser-based and offers a growing number of ARM Apps accessible via web browsers, corporate intranets or authorised mobile devices. These enable users to access specific data and parts of the risk process.

The latest version ARM6 includes Risk Connectivity which can visualise an organisation or project's 'risk universe' and show how the risks are inter-connected.

ARM is supplied with a library of standard reports and RISK Performance Manager (RPM) provides the ability to create dashboards, tables, charts and matrices without the need for specialized IT or report writing knowledge. RPM can also be used to connect to an online community of risk professionals to share knowledge and exchange templates.

3. Can you give us an example?
At Rio Tinto ARM is the single repository for projects and enterprise risks for the Iron Ore business in Australia, improving security, auditability and version management. ARM Collaborative Workshop Solution is used to facilitate the collection of risk data via workshops with the frontline teams who have the best understanding of the real risks faced.

ARM supports the different risk information needs of the diverse operations across Rio Tinto's Iron Ore business. These requirements change through project phases and at different points in the business year.

ARM allows the interrogation of risks across risk registers and projects using a variety of criteria. Over-arching 'risk themes', such as water management, can be identified and analysed at various levels and from different perspectives, so that decisions can be made on the best possible understanding of the overall risk pictures. Themes can emerge bottom-up or top-down in support of corporate strategy.

4. Who are your clients?
Sword Active Risk is the project risk software provider of choice for the world's leading Energy, Infrastructure and Defense projects, working with organizations like the US Air Force, Crossrail, US Federal Aviation Administration, Lockheed Martin, Rio Tinto, Roche, Horizon Nuclear Power, Fortescue and Skanska to manage project and enterprise risk worldwide.

5. What book are you currently reading, and why should I read it?
Morrissey – Autobiography. Highly entertaining. An insight into a creative genius (who probably could have used the services of an editor for certain sections!)

For more, see www.activerisk.com

 

October 1, 2013 - Edward M. Smith, President & CEO, Ullico Inc.

smithhead21. Tell us why Ullico is involved in infrastructure - and why are pension funds in general interested in infrastructure?
Pension funds have become increasingly interested in the infrastructure asset class because these investments are tied to real assets, tend to have long durations with inflation protection, and also tend to produce steady cash flows. This lower volatility profile makes them an attractive investment opportunity.

Ullico understands how important sound investment strategies are to pension plans and their participants, and we think that the infrastructure asset class is attractive for the aforementioned reasons. We to tend to favor investment strategies that focus on long term time horizons with strong cash flows. It took us a couple of thoughtful years to develop the strategy, but we believe that Ullico Infrastructure Fund ("UIF") offers qualified institutional investors a unique way to participate in the asset class.

2. What makes UIF unique?
We have developed a program that truly focuses on the investor. We act as a fiduciary under ERISA, we charge a level investment management fee only on invested capital, there is no set term on the Fund which enables us to hold assets for an indefinite period, the Fund intends to make periodic distributions of available cash to investors, and we are committed to workers' issues through a comprehensive Responsible Contractor Policy.

3. You have made some important investments in water and green energy. Why those projects? Tell us about them.
Ullico's first infrastructure investment is in Rialto Water Services (RWS) located in Rialto, CA. RWS entered into a 30 year concession agreement with the city of Rialto to outsource and upgrade the city's water and waste water facilities. RWS estimates these improvements will produce over 400 jobs for members of the local building and construction trades.

Ullico's second infrastructure investment is a minority stake in an operational wind farm in the United States. The wind farm is operated by a leading renewable energy developer under a long term contract and has an attractive 20 year power purchase agreement with an investment grade utility.

4. Most 'infrastructure investors' invest in company equities, not directly in projects -- why projects?
We believe investing at the project company or asset level is the best way to access the unique characteristics of infrastructure that pension funds are seeking. It allows our investors to participate in the strong underlying cash flows of the investments for a very long time.

5. Can you give us a sense of your horizon, your ambitions?
Our Fund is an open end structure that will perpetually raise and invest money. Thirty years ago, Ullico launched its commercial debt strategy "J for Jobs" to offer investors a competitive fixed income strategy that creates union jobs and capital for union contractors. Since its creation, "J for Jobs" has financed over 425 projects totaling $12 billion of permanent and construction loans which has created thousands of union jobs. While they are different types of asset classes, we expect similar results for UIF.

For more, see www.ullico.com

 

August 27, 2013 - Michael Pompay, President, MMFX Technologies Corporation

pompayhead1. Tell us a bit about MMFX - you have a revolutionary product, how and where is it useful in the infrastructure business?
MMFX2 rebar is an uncoated corrosion-resistant, high-strength concrete reinforcing steel. The product is 5X more corrosion resistant than conventional steel, allowing for longer service life (>100 years) and resulting in lower life-cycle costs. MMFX2 rebar is also twice as strong as conventional rebar (120 ksi vs 60 ksi), allowing for less steel and lower construction costs and times, as well as resolving congestion issues. Design standards for both public and commercial structures have moved to using 100 ksi strength steels and MMFX Steel Corporation provides the only 100 ksi rebar on the market. The product's corrosion resistance is derived from the microstructure of the steel itself and does not rely on a coating. The fact that it is uncoated and ductile allows the steel to be handled similarly to conventional rebar, and cut and bent using standard fabrication equipment.

2. Can you tell us something of the projects in which your steel is being used, and how and where in those projects?
MMFX2 rebar is used in bridges, highways, ports, piers, seawalls, dams, and other water containment & treatment facilities to name a few applications. Largely, MMFX2 rebar is used where corrosion is a concern. The main cause of concrete structure decay is the corrosion of the rebar. As the steel corrodes, it expands and breaks apart the concrete. Due to the corrosion-resistant properties of MMFX2 rebar, the infrastructure can be built to last over 100 years. This longer service life equates to less maintenance and repair costs, lowering the costs of the structure over its expected life. In general, MMFX2 rebar in place only costs about 25% more than the coated products, but provides superior corrosion-resistance and longer service life. In addition, by designing to the higher-strength of MMFX2 rebar the design-build team can reduce the steel required, corresponding to additional cost savings in fabrication, labor, transportation and construction times. This makes MMFX2 rebar the most cost effective construction solution. MMFX's high-strength has also been used to resolve rebar congestion and other construction issues. Where MMFX2 rebar is used within a structure, depends on the needs of the structure. In bridges for example, MMFX2 rebar is used in the bridge deck for its corrosion-resistance and in the bridge substructure for its strength and corrosion resistance. MMFX2 rebar is actually one of several high-strength steel products offered by MMFX Steel Corporation that provide different levels of corrosion resistance, depending on the service life desired for the given structure.

3. You've been with us in a number of Leadership Forum events - are people more receptive in the US, or internationally, for your steel?
I have been to several CG/LA Leadership Forums and have found that everyone is interested in building better infrastructure. They want to do more with less. They want to build more efficient, longer lasting structures while conserving resources. With MMFX2 rebar, you can do more with less. In working through changes to the industry specifications and design standards for the past 10 years, we have seen a shift in the steel industry, both domestic and international, toward favoring corrosion-resistant and high-strength steels. Service life, life cycle costs and the benefits of high-strength steels have become hot topics. Infrastructure stakeholders are asking how we can build a better, longer-lasting infrastructure. With the aged infrastructure, not only in the U.S. but around the world, this is the right question to ask and the right time to ask it. As we have expanded the sales of MMFX2 rebar out to regions like the South America, Middle East and Asia, we see a common interest to build the country's infrastructure right from the start. To do so, you must start with the right concrete reinforcing steel.

4. What are the biggest challenges that you face in introducing a new product into the established infrastructure market?
Introducing a revolutionary product to an established market requires a monumental education initiative. One of the first and biggest barriers is changing the long-standing design standards and codes that were established based on the limitations of existing products. A new innovative product like MMFX2 rebar changes the known and accepted limitations, requiring a change in thinking and changes to the design standards. MMFX has successfully raised the bar. Over the course of the last 10 years, ACI and AASHTO design codes and standards have been updated to incorporate high-strength steels up to 100 ksi (690 MPa). Previous standards were limited to 80 ksi. Another challenge relates to educating the market on corrosion and corrosion-resistant solutions. Judging from the poor condition of our nation's infrastructure, a corrosion solution is required. Based on numerous independent studies and tests, only MMFX2 rebar and stainless steel rebar provide effective corrosion protection and 100-year service life. The other products simply do not measure up and MMFX2 rebar costs far less than stainless steel rebar.

5. What book are you reading now -- and paper, or what device?
My favorite book of all time is "Atlas Shrugged." The story includes the trials and tribulations faced by Hank Rearden as he attempts to introduce a new high-strength steel to the market that has some parallels to MMFX's experiences. More importantly, it highlighted the conflict between the dynamic and sometimes opposing forces of business and politics. It's a lengthy book, but well worth the read and highly recommended.

For more, see www.mmfx.com

 

July 30, 2013 - Terry Bills, Global Transportation Industry Manager, Esri

1. Esri is one of the leading GIS firms in the world, but you still manage to operate as a small entrepreneurial organization -- full of creative energy, and a strong sense of mission -- how do you do that?
We are still privately held, and our President encourages each business unit to operate as a new “start-up” company, with a strong entrepreneurial focus. In addition, he looks for employees who love the technology, and are driven to achieve their own goals and vision through the Company. Together those two factors keep most of us quite focused and running 100% of the time.

2. In the area of transportation Esri is everywhere, what are the key advantages of using Esri software in transportation projects?
Our core message is that GIS can and should be used at each stage of the infrastructure lifecycle, from planning through construction to operations and maintenance. If we take information and information management seriously from the earliest stages of a project, and carry that concept throughout the lifecycle, studies have shown we can save 10% of the project costs over the full lifecycle. When we are talking about multi-billion dollar projects, that begins to constitute quite significant savings. As a company, we are dedicated to helping our customers better manage their resources, and in transportation, that translates well to national roadway administrations (and State DOTs), airports, ports and railways. By effectively managing the information about major transportation investments, we can make better decisions, and ultimately better manage those public resources.

3. You just finished Esri's 33rd annual user conference.  Can you tell us a little about that?  I understand there were more than 15,000 participants!
Yes, our User Conference is almost a full year in the planning. Because our software is used in over 40 different industries, we have a very wide range of users who all come together to learn and to share their experiences. It is quite an eclectic mix, from senior executives at major retail and Fortune 500 companies, to Non-Governmental Organizations from around the world. It is quite heartening to see the wonderful work that these organizations are doing around the world, and because of the great diversity in our user base, it makes for some quite unique exchanges. We have people from over 100 different countries attend, so it is truly an international event, and one where we all somehow get recharged by seeing each other’s work.

4. What are your challenges in the coming year - are these global, or limited to a specific geography or sector?  What still gets you up in the morning?
Because we are a global company, much of our fastest growth is now taking place in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. GIS has become fairly ubiquitous in North America and Europe, but these other parts of the globe are now discovering the power of GIS, so these are often the places I visit the most. It is nice to see that in many of these areas, they can acquire the latest technologies, and effectively implement best practice, thereby leaping over many of the mistakes and learning curves that we struggled through in the West. My job is really to be an evangelist for the technology, and that keeps me on airplanes and at conferences a great deal of the time. It is amazing how small the planet is actually becoming, sharing global technologies and customs.

5. And something more personal, what book are you reading right now?
 I was recently at a conference in Dublin Ireland, and had a couple of hours free one afternoon. I took a wonderful guided historical walking tour of Dublin, so I am now reading R.F. Foster’s Modern Ireland 1600-1972. A fascinating sad history, but a great read.

For more, see www.esri.com

July 16, 2013 - Aaron Toppston, Director, Aon Infrastructure Solutions

1. Can you describe your business in three sentences?
Aon Infrastructure Solutions is a practice group within Aon plc dedicated to the alternative project delivery (a.k.a. public private partnership) industry. We act as risk, performance security, and insurance advisors & brokers on social and civil infrastructure projects across the globe. Our team is based in Chicago, IL with colleagues across Canada, the UK, continental Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

2. In the emerging infrastructure finance paradigm I would think that Aon is a critical player - is your business growing?
Our business is growing, particularly in Western Canada and the US. Efficient risk transfer has always been a key competitive advantage in the alternative project delivery space. More and more, insurance and performance security strategy is being considered as a critical component in a bid, and the decision on how to best mange risk between contractual transfer, insurance, and retention is taking center stage. New regulatory changes such as Basel III and Dodd Frank are constraining the letter of credit market, which had been the traditional source of liquid performance security in alternative project delivery; the market is adapting to these changes and we are excited to be a part of it.

3. Tell us about your experiences in Canada - can you compare the Canada and US businesses?
I have been fortunate to work closely with our Canadian colleagues in the alternative project delivery sector for 4 years. The Canadian market is quite mature and competitive. The procuring authorities are sophisticated and have a strong understanding of the model, market, and potential for alternative project delivery to add value to taxpayers. The Canadian market is also concentrated around 5 or so provincial procuring authorities. In contrast, the US market is much less mature and fragmented. It is cliché, but the US market is really a set of micro-markets by state and city, each with a different level of sophistication and political support for a given project.

4. What attracted you to the business?
Problem solving. Alternative project delivery is complex and every project has its own set of challenges to overcome. I enjoy working with a diverse client base in a collaborative environment to solve challenges on each and every project.

5. What book are you reading right now?
Based on a friend’s recommended, I just picked up “Confidence Men” by Ron Suskind.

For more, see www.aon.com

June 18, 2013 - Philip White, Partner, Dentons

whitehead1. What trends have you seen in the PPP market throughout the Americas in the last 12 months? What factors are driving these trends?

The Americas is really three markets at different stages of development.  Canada has experienced great success in several provinces with PPP and the market continues to add projects.  Mexico has just announced an intention to make the use of PPPs in the transportation sector a viable option for development of new assets.  The US continues erratic use of PPPs, but there has been a recent sharp increase in the number of announced projects for which PPP is being considered a the delivery method.  Overall, PPPs are not taking over as the dominant way to implement new infrastructure, but the successes in some markets, such as Canada, cannot be ignored by other jurisdictions such as the USA.  Weak economies in Europe, including countries like Spain, have encouraged experienced PPP participants to look to the Americas for opportunities, and in doing so are bringing and establishing international standards for PPP agreements, including important issues such as commercial terms and risk transfer profiles.

2. Which sectors and regions are generating the most opportunities for PPP deals in the Americas? Are any particular projects worthy of note?

Transportation, including highways and rapid transit, seem to be popular sectors for PPP projects.  In the US, the Purple and Red Lines in Maryland, the Travis County, TX Court House, the Tampa, FL police headquarters, LaGuardia Airport.

3. Have you seen any recent government policies and incentives to promote PPP opportunities in particular sectors? 

At the State level in the US, many jurisdictions are considering or enacting authorizing legislation for PPPs.  Leaders are VA, FL, TX, PA, IN.

4. What are the major benefits of public-private partnerships to stakeholders, the public sector and the wider community?

The advantages are supplementing public experience and authority with  private know how and capital to achieve better quality projects that are delivered and operated more efficiently than a project sponsored solely by a public entity.  In the best cases, that is delivered in spades.  However, academics and commentators continue to debate the advantages and disadvantages of infrastructure projects implemented by public-private partnership.  What is clear is that a poorly planned and procured project, no matter what form, will not deliver full value.

With proper education about best practices for selection, development and implementation of projects, PPP offers the promise of delivering some of the much needed infrastructure for North American economies to remain competitive globally.  Investors have the opportunity to invest in what are essentially public assets in stable economies.  Governments have the opportunity to continue growing their infrastructure base and, thereby, create jobs and drive innovation.

At the same time, we need to face the challenges of PPPs straight on. The multi-party structure, including lenders and investors, over a longer operating term, results in a lack of flexibility that can make it difficult for the project to react to unforeseen needs that arise over the term of the Concession Agreement.

For the public sector and wider community PPP projects are more difficult to procure, taking longer to bring to market, with higher political risk, but once financial close is achieved PPP projects have an established reputation of being more reliably on budget and on schedule.  In addition, the integration of design, construction and operating requirements can result in cost savings over the life of the project in a way that is difficult to achieve with other project structures.

5.  What legal challenges surround PPPs in the Americas? What steps can be taken to overcome these challenges?

The common legal challenge to PPPs in the Americas is that in many jurisdictions, for example in many areas of the USA, current legislation does not permit, or at least discourages, PPPs.  A common form or PPP is to base the Concessionaire’s right on a Project Agreement and there can be no question that such agreement is legally valid and enforceable.

Enactment of amendment to legislation requires political support, which has been difficult to obtain.

Some jurisdictions, such as Brazil, have adopted enabling legislation, but included strict rules, in may cases unique to the jurisdiction, that are not always conducive to international investment.

6. Are there any other major challenges which frequently surface in PPPs in the Americas? How should investors prepare for and manage these issues?

The main challenge is the lack of general understanding as to how PPPs work, including a wide-spread concern that a PPP structure necessarily results in private ownership and control of the asset.  Educating the general public is difficult because supporters of PPPs, particularly private-sector supporters, are viewed suspicion as being only interested in making a profit at the expense of the public.

7. How can investors improve their chances of creating value and generating expected returns in a PPP?

This is surprising simple.  There are well developed best practices for economic terms and operating principles in successful PPPs that differ substantially of projects delivered by other procurement methods.  Investors need to see that they are adhered to or, when a project deviates from those principles, are careful risk/reward analysis and proper risk management techniques are applied.

8. How important is it for PPP investors to understand and evaluate their contractual obligations under the deal? Are you seeing an increase in disputes arising from PPP arrangements?

It is extremely important for investors to understand the Concessionaire’s obligations under a PPP Agreement.  Generally they do because a number of “standard” agreement forms have developed which are generally understood by the market.  It is not our experience that there is an increase in disputes under PPPs.

9. What are your predictions for the PPP market in the Americas in 2013 and beyond? What is general advice to investors considering a public-private partnership in the Americas?

I believe we will see a gradual increase in the use of PPPs across the Americas but it will not be sudden.  Jurisdictions like Canada where the has been an active market will continue, but constrained by the amount of public funds available for investment in infrastructure.  Other jurisdictions will follow because of the general pressure on governments to up-grade, replace and develop new infrastructure.  Infrastructure costs are enormous and even marginal cost savings, that PPP arguably offer, will continue to make them attractive.

For more, see www.dentons.com

January 29, 2013 - Leigh Jasper, CEO, Aconex

jasperhead1. Tell us why your solution is unique - why is Aconex so successful?

Companies delivering infrastructure projects are no novices when it comes to IT – think about scheduling, cost management, and similar tools that enterprises use. But Aconex helps these companies deliver on-time and on-budget by providing a project-wide platform for managing information and processes. It complements the in-house tools by bringing cross-company teams together in a secure, collaborative SaaS environment. Our there, on the project and not within your own four walls, is where things can go very well or very badly, and that’s where you need to have visibility and control.

2. Aconex is involved in a series of highly complex, strategic, projects around the world - can you tell us something about 2-3 of the most interesting ones?

We have been used on about projects worth over $700 billion over the last dozen years and some of the most interesting are in the infrastructure space. I’m thinking of the Panama Canal expansion, which we implemented in under three weeks, the $6.7bn light rail program that RTD Denver is engaged on, many port and airport developments, and an $11bn highway across North Africa! What they have in common is a high number of participating firms, often in JVs, and many specialist consultants, often overseas. The challenge is in getting all of these companies and their staff using a single platform and an agreed set of processes. That adoption is critical to getting value from the investment – and it’s something we’re well known for at this stage.

3. How did you get into this business? 

Back in the late 90s I was with McKinsey & Co, advising companies on how to reinvent their businesses around the internet. An old school-friend, Rob Phillpot, was a site manager with one of the big construction firms, now Brookfield Multiplex. He was struggling with the challenges of running a project – staying on top of information, keeping everyone on the same page, chasing approvals, and so on. I was in “how can the web help?” mode. Between us, an idea started to form, we gave up our jobs, drew on our (limited) savings to start the business, before bringing in investors, and here we are.

4. What is your next big challenge?  Is there a technological leap in Aconex' future? 

We’re seeing a number of things happening that are changing how projects are delivered. One trend is increasing mobility. Whether you are managing defects or doing a safety walkthrough, it’s finally possible to work in real time, in the field, from a tablet and to integrate that with the rest of your project information, processes and team. Secondly, Big Data is hot. In our world, it’s driven by the explosion in use of BIM and 3D models. There are real challenges to sharing, collaborating on, and managing these files. But huge competitive advantage for owners, contractors and PMs that get it right. And thirdly, I’d mention SaaS. Companies that would not have considered putting critical project data in the cloud even two years ago are now comfortable with the level of security that’s available. These are the three technology drivers in construction IT right now, and are where we have been investing over the past year.  

5.  What are you reading right now?

"Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely. It is a behavioural economics book about human biases in decision making. It would be interesting to see research on how these biases affect decision making in the project environment.

For more information on Aconex, see www.aconex.com.

 

January 22, 2013 - Simon Herriott, Managing Director of Consulting, DuPont Sustainable Solutions

herriott1.  Can you explain DuPont Sustainable Solutions - DSS - briefly?

DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS), one of 13 DuPont business groups, offers consulting services, products and technologies that help organizations protect people and the environment, build and use assets more efficiently, and improve worker skills and performance.

Our Sustainability and Capital Growth practice serves the needs of capital project owners and financiers. We help them effectively manage the large inherent complexity and the multiple stakeholder needs and concerns. With our support they realize benefits such as on-time and on-budget execution, reduction in the likelihood of catastrophic events, increase in project operability, improved enterprise capital planning processes, and overall reductions in investment risks, among others.

2.  What kinds of projects are ideal for you?

DuPont Sustainable Solutions is particularly well suited to maximizing the efficacy of large, complex projects that require significant management oversight and integration between work-streams and work teams.  High value can be reached when our experts are brought on board in the earliest planning stages of a project, when project owners have the greatest ability to impact outcomes.  But, it has also been rewarding to help clients put their projects back on the rails, as well.

Unique to DSS, our methods, capabilities and attitudes related to capital projects have been honed through more than 200 years of practical asset owner/operator experience across multiple and diverse global operations.

3.  Can you give us a sense of a recent success, and how you measure success?

Three words come to mind when we’re asked about capital project success:  “people, transparency, and collaboration.”  We’ve learned that when everyone is working together, with complete visibility, sharing and fully committed, to not only their phase of the project but to the entire project, success follows.

Allow me to point to one of our own internal projects – The DuPont Cooper River facility, where we produce Kevlar®, the primary component of ballistic and stab-resistant body armor. This USD500 million production site was completed in April 2011, and increased the overall global production capacity for Kevlar® by 25 percent, with an added 40 percent increase expected by the end of 2013. 

The project, initiated in 2007, faced a series of challenges during the construction phase, largely due to the tough economic climate in the United States at the time. But, despite fluctuating project timelines, vacillating oil prices, shifting building code regulations, vendor supply difficulties, and an unexpected archeological find, the project was completed two months ahead of schedule and $45 million under budget. 

In summary, the ability to collaborate and transfer knowledge to our clients to meet or even exceed their objectives – on time, on budget, safe, sustainable, and where applicable, with the highest levels of operability is our best measure of success.

4.  What do you hope to get out of your participation in the Leadership Forum?

I will be there to learn as much as to share. It is an exciting and challenging time in the world of infrastructure.  We want to be part of it.  The Leadership Forum is a great opportunity to engage in meaningful interactions and collaborate with stakeholders to tackle these challenges together.   

5.  Do you have any resolutions for 2013 that you'd like to share with us?

I know that so much of the cultural change that we try to bring to our organizations starts with our own behavior and beliefs as leaders. From this, I resolve, each year to try to demonstrate a commitment to being as effective as I can be in business while doing so safely and sustainably.

6.  What are you reading right now?

“MegaProjects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition” (Flyvbjerg, Bruzelius & Rothengatter).  It’s a good read on why major projects have disappointed a wide range of stakeholders.  It points out the need for more rigorous and disciplined upfront planning, more honest and collaborative management of projects to share risk, and the critical need to assess and address community and environmental issues.

For more information, see the DuPont Sustainable Solutions website.