1. What is your role at Opus?
I have three roles: Technical Principal in the Global Asset Management team, Chair of our Asset Management Practice Interest Network, and Manager of our thought leadership Technical Investment Fund
Externally, I advise asset owners on the impacts of infrastructure investments, and how they can communicate these impacts to senior leadership, legislators and members of the public. Often this means helping them set clear investment priorities. This can mean revisiting the assets they have (do they really need them?), revisiting the quality of service they're delivering (can they afford this level of service in the future?), and considering cleverer ways of delivering the same quality of service.
Internally, I help strengthen and develop our asset managers, and get more coordination across the world and across disciplines. Many of the greatest innovations come from people that are working in areas that are different but analogous. That includes embedding best practice and innovations into business as usual
I'm also responsible for how we profile our best people and find innovative outlets for their ideas.
2. What do you enjoy the most in your current role?
I love connecting people to new ideas. We need to do more sharing, across disciplines, and with our clients, contractors, other consultants, industry bodies, and other research institutions. We have some amazing people that have done great work. As we tap more strongly in to the rest of the world, those great ideas will take hold, we'll have made a real difference, and we can move on to tackling even bigger problems.
3. What has been your biggest career achievement?
Recently I presented my first keynote in Vancouver at the conference for the Canadian Network of Asset Managers. That was a great opportunity for me. I've also enjoyed teaching asset management masterclasses, working with Parks Canada staff on a high-profile project that culminated in them receiving an additional $2.8 billion in funding (that was more due to their own amazing people than me, but it was a wonderful team to be part of), and working with KPMG and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Anything that involves problem-solving and bouncing ideas off people, where challenge and debate are welcome. Completing my PhD was a pretty big deal too. It allowed me to explore economic arguments for changing the way we deliver services to communities, to make them more affordable and beneficial overall.
4. Outside of Opus, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love food, so much of my time is spent thinking about our meals for the week, or what new café we'll try next, or whose house we'll invade for the next get-together with friends. To keep myself sane after work and on weekends, I run, surf, and bike. I discovered during my studies that my back would tighten up from the hours spent sitting, and yoga and lunchtime walks has helped immensely with that. On a nerdy note, I haven't yet published journal papers after my PhD, so many weekends are spent converting thesis chapters into journal papers.
5. What advice would you give to people beginning their career?
Do what you think you should do, and keep an open mind. I wanted to get broad experience across a range of engineering disciplines, and I was lucky Opus offered that - and that I had a mentor who helped make it happen. Many people won't understand an unconventional mix of disciplines, but don't let that worry you - that's where the real innovation is to be found, and where you'll find your special niche.
Also, be generous with your ideas, be positive, and be forgiving. It may take people time to see the method behind your madness. Chances are, they will eventually understand it and appreciate what you have done. In the meantime, seek out people who will support you - look outside your team, throughout your organisation, and outside as well. More people, more ideas, more inspiration, more 'luck'.