AECOM – Success Enabled by Diversity: Our Asset Management Team


Summary of your asset management team

AECOM’s Strategic Asset Management and Advanced Materials (SAM&AM) team is led by Dr Frédéric Blin, who has displayed a strong commitment to developing a unique talent pool. The team consists of 18 individuals, varied in education, race, cultural background, age, and gender, and have contributed to some of Victoria’s most significant projects. Female composition is 63% overall workforce, 62% senior management, and 67-100% graduates.
Team members speak multiple languages, including French, Mandarin, and Greek, with many having worked globally, including France, Hong Kong, China, and Iran. Individuals are specialised in Asset Management, Materials, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering.

Demonstration of Organisation Leadership in creating and maintaining.

Since the team’s inception in 1998, leadership has always recognised the importance of establishing and growing diversity as the key to achieving a high-performance team. A focus was placed on bringing individuals into the team on merit, prioritising skills, talent and particularly character to encourage high performance and enhance team culture. By continuously seeking opportunities to learn and improve as a team, we have been able to grow diversity levels and create an inclusive and engaging work environment. AECOM has played a key role in facilitating the team’s journey; from 2015 a more central emphasis was placed on promoting and encouraging diversity, equity and inclusivity, targeting these values in change management processes and strategies. In 2020, AECOM Australia established female participation targets to achieve 40% overall workforce, 25% senior and middle management team, and 50% graduates by 2022. The SAM&AM team is recognised as a diversity leader within AECOM, already surpassing these targets with a 63% overall female workforce compared to AECOM global and Australia’s 23% and 35.8% female staff, respectively.

AECOM’s encouragement and push of wider policies to promote diversity, particularly in recent years, have helped to act as a catalyst for further team growth. For instance, the graduate recruitment process had typically been handled by individual teams, with the SAM&AM team predominantly hiring talent possessing traditional materials and engineering backgrounds from a single university. Handing over the recruitment process to wider AECOM allowed the team to access a broader pool of talent, including individuals from non-traditional backgrounds such as electrical, computer systems and mechanical engineering. 

Strong cultural values that have promoted building and retaining a highly diverse team have been developed in AECOM’s wider policies and framework. Key areas that have been targeted since 2015 have included gender pay gap analysis, promoting career progression for high-performing individuals, and encouraging flexibility for all genders. AECOM is a global leader in closing the gender pay gap, annually conducting a detailed analysis to recognise discrepancies and act proactively. From 2015 to 2020, AECOM Australia has dedicated over $1.7 million to gender remuneration and equality gap analysis. AECOM has also solidified its position as a leader of diversity, starting senior female sponsorship and mentorship programs that allows high-potential women across the business to be partnered with leadership members. These proactive efforts to encourage diversity and reduce gender bias help to create a work culture that encourages retention of staff within both the SAM&AM team and AECOM-wide. This is evident by the high number of women in senior leadership position (62%) within the SAM&AM team, reflecting a work culture that promotes equality in career development and recognises the importance of diverse leadership.

Diversity has also been retained and built through AECOM and the SAM&AM team’s encouragement of individuals to grow in roles outside of the organisation. Several individuals within the SAM&AM team have developed professional relationships with universities and associations. This has enabled authoring of numerous technical reports and publications in areas such as durability and lifecycle approaches, with Dr Frédéric Blin recently publishing an article in Consulting Matters on the topic of diversity and inclusion. Members have been able to lecture on durability and asset management in a range of forums, including RMIT, Melbourne Uni, Swinburne Uni, and the Australasian Corrosion Association. This encouragement of engagement in roles outside of AECOM promotes diversity of knowledge, improvement of skills, and facilitates extensive networking. Several SAM&AM members have joined Asset Management teams in client organizations over the years, not only validating our culture of technical and personal growth but also strengthening and growing the profession generally.

Demonstration of Innovations in your asset management team

The SAM&AM team has displayed innovation both in terms of its systemic approaches to increasing diversity and through the delivery of unique solutions. SAM&AM encourages exposure to complex and varying projects for all team members, particularly young professionals, thereby allowing talent to be fostered. Members are not limited by position or ranking, allowing everyone to contribute their unique skills. For instance, from 2019 to the present, some junior members of the SAM&AM team have been given the opportunity to work on the major project Metro Tunnel Melbourne as Independent Reviewer (MMIR). This has enabled young professionals to work alongside highly regarded seniors, providing individuals the chance to excel and take on multiple responsibilities.

As 2020 saw limitations imposed as a result of COVID-19, AECOM, the SAM&AM team, and major projects, including MMIR diverted from a traditional company setting to encourage flexible working options, thereby allowing staff who were unable to be in the office for personal reasons to commence working from home. Thus, team members have been allowed to work diversely and in settings where they can continue to perform at their best, resulting in an overall more inclusive workspace. Similarly, as meetings moved to a virtual setting, unique and innovative approaches to encourage diversity were developed. Team members of SAM&AM have been encouraged to add digital backgrounds that highlight the support of key events such as pride week and NAIDOC week. These have not only helped individual team members to feel they are working in an inclusive and open space, but also function to externally identify the team as a supporter and promoter of diversity.

Diversity has been encouraged within the SAM&AM team through the promotion of collaboration and networking within AECOM. Recently, members of SAM&AM have been given the opportunity to work within the digital space and collaborate with the AECOM digital team to provide a dashboard for key client Transurban. Sharing of knowledge and perspectives between teams acts to expand understanding and encourages team members to become more educated in sectors outside of their specialisation. Further, these high levels of team diversity also aid in developing innovative solutions. In particular, the dashboard presented a new and unique solution for Transurban, allowing greater oversight of risks and asset data. This was also one of the first dashboards of its kind developed by AECOM, facilitated in part because of the creation of a team which was able to combine a knowledge of computer science, data analysis, client management, and lessons learnt from previous modelling projects.

Leveraging individual skills, strengths and backgrounds have enabled innovative approaches to be taken in the asset management space. As a result of the team’s varying backgrounds, ranging from construction to academia, we have been able to tailor our people to the clients’ needs. To streamline this process, the team has created a skills matrix to identify individual strengths and areas of speciality. Team members’ strengths were utilised to great effect during the team’s involvement in condition inspections for a key client, assisting in data collection and providing management recommendations. Utilising the talents within the SAM&AM team, we were able to develop new ways to estimate remaining useful life, and utilise unique data analysis techniques. This has helped to cement our status as a high-performing team, delivering innovative solutions that go above and beyond to meet the client’s requirements.

Diversity Benefits

By encouraging a highly skilled and diverse team to be developed, we have been able to consistently produce a high quality of work for our clients, thereby positively impacting on the company, stakeholders and community. For instance, in 2020 the team’s work with Southern Rural Water to inspect critical concrete structures during Victoria’s lockdown earned a Net Promoter Score (NPS) score of 10, indicating complete client satisfaction and full marks in likelihood of recommendation to others. Inspection work for Transurban also resulted in the team being praised for its ‘focussed’ and ‘collaborative approach’, with the client acknowledging how well the team dealt with ‘challeng(ing)’ and varying circumstances. As a result of one team member’s asset management work with Melbourne Water, it was identified that further assistance and support would greatly benefit the client, thereby also benefiting AECOM. These projects as well as many others have required the team to deliver work in complex and time-critical environments and have helped establish AECOM as a leader in infrastructure consultancy.

SAM&AM has worked closely with key clients such as Transurban, who have over the years increased the level of diversity in their teams. SAM&AM has been able to match these levels of diversity, working in partnership with our clients to encourage one another to be the most diverse we can. During a recent asset management project with Transurban, a collaborative approach was taken between AECOM and Transurban, with members from both parties having diversity of experience, age, gender, and cultural background. Members of both teams were able to share knowledge and differing viewpoints, thereby improving the quality of the project deliverables. In this way the SAM&AM team has been able to equal and, in some cases, surpass the diversity of its clients, working together in synergy, and allowing for a greater contribution due to combined perspectives and ideas. This has a positive effect, since our team and AECOM are pushed to continue diversifying, whilst also acting as a catalyst for our clients, and therefore the wider workforce and community. 

Finally, working with clients who service the public also means that delivering high performance work, in turn, contributes positively to the community. The team has worked on projects that advocate diversity within the community and company-wide, providing significant benefit. Specifically, some members of the SAM&AM team have worked across projects that have championed developing pathways to promote remote working.  This has been particularly beneficial in 2020 to 2021, which has seen the importance of the digital space in terms of facilitating remote working. This has the potential to level the playing field, allowing more individuals to contribute their unique skills in an environment that benefits them. Future developments in enabling more widespread remote working will likely have a markedly positive impact on AECOM and companies within the community, encouraging greater accessibility and the promotion of a wider pool of ideas, talents and differences. 

General Comments

The SAM&AM team is a recognized leader of diversity within the AECOM community, openly promoting equality and opportunity, and allowing an example to be set for the wider workforce.

The SAM&AM team is a recognised leader of diversity within the AECOM community, openly promoting equality and opportunity, and allowing an example to be set for the wider workforce. Our team has a strong passion to consistently deliver high-quality and innovative solutions through technical expertise and an unwavering commitment to promoting a work culture of equity, diversity and inclusion. Our variety of team members, each with varying technical and cultural backgrounds, perspectives, and gender act as a kaleidoscope in creating a unique pool of talent and strength.

The SAM&AM team has been a long-term advocate for diversity within the company, recognising that we are stronger because of our differences. The team’s long-term desire to grow and develop diverse talent has been harnessed in part by AECOM’s policies and commitment to creating an inclusive work culture. Approaches including wider recruitment processes, flexibility, promotion of female career progression, and encouragement of external professional relationships have allowed SAM&AM to both attract and retain an extensive team of differing individuals.

Through investing in and developing diverse talent, the team has been able to see numerous benefits. High levels of diversity act as key drivers of success both within the team itself, as well as AECOM wide, and within the community. The team has been able to leverage strengths, backgrounds and perspectives to produce optimal solutions for the client and deliver on-time and on-budget. We have acted as a driver to promote equality and diversity within AECOM as well as our clients, working in partnership for the betterment of all parties. Overall, this has helped to cement the SAM&AM team as a leader within the Asset Management community.

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