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Leadership HQ's 'Leader of Leaders' interview with Giam Swiegers

Aurecon CEO, Giam Swiegers

Aurecon CEO Giam Swiegers

24 January 2017 - Giam Swiegers is the Global CEO of global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon. He is a firm believer in the value of diversity in all its forms. In 2005, Giam was named ‘Best CEO for the advancement of women in business” by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. It was under his leadership as CEO that Deloitte Australia was named as the 2008 ‘Best firm for the advancement of women’. It is his opinion that diversity builds creativity and opportunities for growth and that all businesses need to learn to cope with the change.

  1. What do you love best about what you do?
    I like working with the people at Aurecon. They have a lot of potential and value my opinion enough to challenge my ideas. I love that I am surrounded by smart professional people on a daily basis who are confident enough to share their thoughts while challenging mine. Sometimes CEOs are under the false impression that their ideas are the only ones that matter. It is important as leaders that we are open to different points of view and a variation of perspectives.

  2. What’s your purpose – your WHY?
    I love running complex businesses while at the same time looking for development and growth prospects. It is only through growth that you have the ability to create new opportunities. If you have had the great privilege of running large businesses as I have, then you will understand that you are responsible for a great number of careers particularly those starting out in business. These young minds need plenty of growth opportunities to thrive.

  3. How would you describe your leadership style
    Most people would describe me as being very people centric. Leaders should understand that people should be at the apex of the business model. The biggest responsibility for an organisation is to pick the right leaders to take the business forward. The leader can then set out to focus on the 'why' of the business followed by the 'what'. It is up to the leader to distinguish the 'how'.

  4. Key achievements and successes – any come to mind?
    I am proud of the fact that the Deloitte partners voted me in three times as a CEO, and during that period, the company went from number 4 to number 2. Aurecon have a history of being very focused and innovative, and I am extremely happy that the engineering firm has put its trust in me.

  5. Who has made a difference in your career?
    I am very fortunate of the fact that so many people have invested in me over the years. I have always worked hard to attract mentors – some very powerful mentors – who have gone out their way to help me reach my full potential. I have always made sure that people in Aurecon have great mentors to look up to and learn from. The benefits of a great mentor are endless.

  6. What are your strengths and unique talents?
    I am extremely interested in people, and like to get to know and understand the people that work with me. I want to know what drives them and am very keen to build long-term relationships with them. I think I am also able to project a vision which we can all believe in and set out to achieve.

  7. What does the future hold for you?
    Interesting question – I have no idea. I still have a while to go here at Aurecon. After that I guess time will tell. I would however love a little more time to myself.

  8. Key learning in your career
    I think to have an open mind and intellectual curiosity about everything. This curiosity led me to discover the concept of design thinking in around 2008/2009, which helped me improve my leadership and management skills tenfold. Also, never forget to ask the 'why' of things; that is very important.

  9. What would you say to your younger self?
    Amazingly enough, I have been asked this question quite often. My answer is always the same. I am happy to do it again and live it all again – and happy to make the mistakes I have made. I have had a lot of fun on this career journey and always focus on things that are fun. There is nothing I love more than running big organisations and see others succeed.

  10. What are your plans for 2017?
    I would like to see Aurecon continue on the current journey and reclaim the space that engineers have always had in terms of shaping the agenda of the country. The role of an engineer is an important one – it is all about bringing ideas to life. We play quite an important role in society. That is what I love most about working at Aurecon. We have the real potential to make an impact on society. We have the ability to turn ideas into something real – something beneficial for everyone.

Article first appeared in Leadership HQ, November 2016.

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