Now in its seventh year, the annual Consult Australia Leaders Conference has been designed to provide a unique learning, networking, and sharing platform for senior leaders from within built environment consulting firms in Australia (and the Asia Pacific region more broadly).
Management for Design Principal, Robert Peake, attended this year’s conference, which featured discussions and workshops with a diverse range of speakers.
The theme of the conference was The Built Environment 2030 and covered topics including new technologies, digital standards, education, non-linear career paths, humanitarian considerations, diversity, and commercial structures. From the conference, a few key points that emerged.
Change will be a constant in the future of work.
Craig Rispin, Futurist from Future Trends Group, shared his vision of the world and the engineering industry of 2030, highlighting several key trends. He mentioned that into the future many people will have up to 17 different careers over their lifetime and firms will move to people on-demand models.
This changing nature of work was also reflected in a presentation from Kim Seeling Smith, CEO of Ignite Global. Research on the future of work. People are increasingly looking for employment that focusses on the experience, has purpose (do well by doing good), and encourages collaboration (the end of management).
Reinforcing these themes was Ryan McCarthy, Managing Director of Stryker, who having already implemented sweeping changes, proposed that 3 out of 4 people are not being engaged in their role and the effect this has on productivity. He stressed that you need to “find people’s natural talent, empower them, and foster their strengths.”
Technology is changing every aspect of the profession.
Advancing technology was an overarching theme throughout the conference and a crucial part of the uptake of new technologies will be the adoption (or lack thereof) of new digital standards. This topic was addressed by a panel featuring Simon Vaux, Director Digital Engineering, Infrastructure and Place, Transport NSW; Neil Greenstreet, Manager Digital Technologies, Natspec; and Dr Liming Zhu, Research Director, Software and Computational Systems, Data61 | CSIRO.
The panel considered the available digital standards – why they are there (and why there’s so many!), which ones we should be using, and is there still space for competitive advantage amongst all these standards?
Education is not addressing the needs of the industry.
While this point wasn’t the focus of any specific presentation, it became clear that the current education for engineering students is not preparing them adequately for the industry. There is a lack of business, collaboration, and enterprise know-how amongst graduates, which ripples out into the future of the industry.
Additionally, universities are failing to attract a truly diverse range of students, to bring perspective and different points of view. It remains unclear, whether the need a shift in education will occur—it requires industry leaders to be more vocal about their requirements. After-all, technology aside, the future of engineering is in the people who are yet to even enter the profession.
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