Executive General Manager, South East Asia
John Holland Group
After graduating from Monash University with a degree in Civil and Computing Engineering, John spent several years working in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Sudan, and Indonesia on large scale civil and building projects.
Returning to Australia in 2008, John took up a Senior Project Management role within the John Holland Group based in Melbourne being involved in several exciting water and sewerage projects.
In 2010 he took the opportunity to relocate to Western Australia and take on the role as the Alliance Director for the Perth City Link Alliance.
After successfully completing the Alliance, John then went on to oversee a number of large civil projects that were being undertaken by John Holland in Western Australia. In 2016 he became the Executive General Manager for South East Asia for the John Holland Group. establishing offices in both Singapore and Malaysia.
How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I joined as a Graduate Member in 1990, my first year of University.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
Being the son of a local Shire Engineer I spent the majority of my early childhood walking levee banks, watching road construction from the safe confides of the council ute or assisting in holding the level staff.
Later when my Father took a role overseas in the Philippines, I saw first-hand how building roads and providing basic sanitation changed people’s lives. Having this first-hand experience at an early age I saw not only the chance for adventure, but also how engineering can have such an impact on our lives, our society and our environment.
How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
From building sewerage tunnels under Melbourne to sinking railways in Perth CBD, the projects I have worked on have made a positive impact on communities and in most cases the focus has not been the now, but the future. Sustainability has been a key driver for all these projects.
What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
All the projects that I have been involved in have been interesting and all have had their challenges.
I would have to say working on a project in Sudan was the most challenging of them all. Being taken outside of my comfort zone and dealing with daily challenges not only taught me a lot about myself but also underscored how projects can positively impact lives in even the most disadvantaged societies.
Why did you become a volunteer mentor for Engineers Australia?
I have been fortunate to have an “in house” mentor in my father and have encountered several great engineering mentors throughout my career. I take the opportunity to “pay it forward” to other young engineers coming into the industry.
Being an advocate for diversity, I particularly encourage women who are trying to establish themselves in the industry; having a daughter makes it personal!
What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
Encouraging more young people into the industry, particularly women. Providing a workplace that not only focuses on diversity but one that enables flexibility in the areas of work life balance.
What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
Climate change and the maintaining a sustainable environment are two of the biggest challenges facing our society. Our profession has the opportunity now and, in the future, to provide engineering solutions that will make changes that are needed for the future.
Who is your engineering hero?
My Father – Geoff Anderson. His support and guidance made a difference to where I am today.
Image: courtesy of John F Anderson