What keeps you awake at night?
Two things: Firstly, how do we address the technical and people skills base, not just within WSP but in our country. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we help our own people achieve their professional registration and get the relevant experience, as well as on-going need to invest in our people and the industry as a whole. My greatest aspiration is that our Professionals can stand competently and proudly on any international stage.
Secondly, how do we maintain cash in the bank and find that balance of having a sustainable South African business that provides professional services effectively and efficiently to the clients what have trusted us to advise them on their projects.
What legacy would you like to leave behind when you retire?
I would like to see continued growth. I would like to see the company culture, team relationships and identity sustained over the coming years.
How has the organisation fared in terms of business growth?
In spite of a challenging environment, we continue to achieve market-leading positions within specialist sectors. As an example, our power business has grown phenomenally, our operating margins have improved in general, and we have maintained or increased our market share.
How is the company doing in terms of growing the engineering and science profession?
We have effective conversations to support our employees, not only through graduate discussions, but by providing mentoring support to develop our candidate professionals. We have leadership training to better equip our engineers to lead a professional team successfully. I personally support these initiatives and am passionate about development of all our staff.
We have an active bursary programme for tertiary education in engineering and science, and offer support to a number of organisations that promote mathematics and science, as well as career in engineering and environmental science, in high schools. For example, we are fully behind and support Engineers without Borders, where we have worked with this organisation to grow as both a student organisation and NPO since its very early days. The organisation also supports further training at Honours and Masters level.
How is the organisation delivering on customer service?
Repeat business is high and our customer service is relationship geared.
We are using the seller-doer operating model in delivering projects so that we have senior people on all projects and we ensure we deliver relevant and appropriate solutions.
This also means that our clients are always dealing with the person that is their delivering their project as well, so there's less room for misunderstanding.
We have high standards in terms of doing what is right in the business in terms of ethical behavior, integrity and professionalism.
How do you personally and WSP as an organisation take part in mentorship?
The organisation supports the Alan Gray Foundation and I personally mentor and support this initiative. I have an Australian colleague who I am guiding in terms of international exposure and best practices.
We have an internal mentorship structure where individuals are assigned mentors within the organisation inline with the employee's aspirations, particularly Candidate Engineers to ensure they achieve their professional registration and future dreams. The organisation advocates for internal coaching dynamics to grow our people within.
Has the organisation won any awards recently?
The organisation is always involved in projects that achieve industry specific accolades, from the PMR.Africa awards to the SAPOA, CESA and SAICE Awards. A recent Carte Blanche expose covered one of our professional executives doing exceptional work in New York.
We are also considered centres of excellence in a number of engineering disciplines. For example, our Stellenbosch-based Coastal engineering team are world-renowned and are currently working on a number of major ports projects throughout the African continent.
When not at work, what do you get up to?
Family life is important to me - I am married with an 11 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter. They keep me grounded. I also have a passion and keen interest in mountain biking.
This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of The African Professional.