After seven years at GHD as their Service Group Manager for WA land development, The Civil Group welcomes John Grierson. John’s wealth of experience across both large and small scale projects combined with his energy and a fresh perspective make him a welcome addition to our senior team.
We sat John down and asked him five questions around the subject of Civil Engineering consulting in the land development industry.
1. John, what’s your experience in the WA Land Development Industry?
For the past 16 years I’ve been working exclusively in the WA land development industry. The last 7 years of which I’ve worked with GHD as their Service Group Manager for WA land development. In this role I was across a diverse range of small and large scale development projects. Prior to that I was in a similar role at Cardno BSD.
2. What does the term ‘thinking engineer’ mean to you?
What we do at The Civil Group is not ‘sausage factory’ stuff. We need to think about what the Client’s goals and KPI’s are. We think commercially. ‘Business as usual’ is one approach but often there are better alternatives that can add value. This is where we need to become lateral thinkers – thinking engineers.
3. What is your approach?
I take an unashamedly hands-on approach all the way from feasibility to final completion. In my view it’s critical for the lead engineer to take the reins at preliminary planning stage because it always has proved to be invaluable, as is experience during the construction phase as superintendent.
4. How important is strategic civil engineering at the feasibility stage of the project?
Early involvement in the feasibility is critical and is arguably where we add the most value. It’s also why we developed our Engineering Strategic Development Plan and the Strategic Thinking Framework. The upfront thinking benefits our Clients both in terms of cost savings and time saved further down the project timeline. It’s where our team’s mix of youth and a fair dose of grey hair come to the fore!
5. Land development civil engineering isn’t the sexiest of professions, how would you ‘sell it’ to a new graduate?
I disagree, land development can be sexy but I acknowledge that some graduates want to work on big fancy projects found in other industries. The problem is that they will work on one small component of the project and not see the bigger picture. In land development, you are usually involved from when the project is just a piece of dirt until families start building houses to live there. You also are involved in all aspects and get to understand what other professions are trying to achieve. That fits well with our ongoing focus on innovative thinking designed to deliver our clients the best economic outcome in the face of challenging infrastructure options.
I have been responsible for leading the engineering input for a number of small and large scale development projects through a hands on approach. My involvement covered all phases of the projects, from feasibility to final completion. The early involvement in preliminary planning has proved to be invaluable as is my experience during the construction phase as superintendent.
Any last words?
It might sound a bit nerdy but I really enjoy what I do. I like developing innovative solutions for developers and finding new ways of doing things, but I still like to be involved in the day to day details of a project. No project is the same and we are always presented with new challenges to keep us on our toes.