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 email@example.com.
January 29, 2013 - Leigh Jasper, CEO, Aconex
1. 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
1. 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.