Caimin McCabe has left Cundall after more than 17 years, where he was a director, and a partner in the international business, to see if he can stretch his wings and make a mark on a bigger company, at Stantec.
Just days before he started the new gig the company doubled in size in Australia to about 2500 people when it took over Cardno a company with more than 8000 staff globally. The deal is worth $667 million pending investor approval, Stantec also bought out Wood and Grieve in around mid-2020.
Mr McCabe said he had become better acquainted with the company when he was working on the Footscray and Frankston hospital projects and felt he it would be a good fit for his skills. The move reconnects him with Cormac Kelly who is a principal at his new company and who he persuaded to come to Australia about 20 years ago to work with a previous employer Irwinconsult, which was bought out by Integral.
“It’s a good fit for me from an engineering perspective,” Mr McCabe said, adding that he felt he could help lift the profile of the environmentally sustainable development (ESD) team which he felt had a good reputation but could benefit from better exposure.
“I’m hoping to be open up some different doors for them and strengthen their position in the market from a sustainability perspective.”
The market was “very tight” for talent acquisition at present, he said. Partly sustainability suffered as an industry because after the GFC companies failed to invest in the sector and there was an exodus with people moving to different industries. This, combined with the pandemic, has resulted in a shortage of talent. “Australia has in my mind an attitude that, instead of investing in people to train them and bringing them up through the ranks, they are more inclined to parachute them into the business.
“I was no different, albeit 27 years ago,” he said referring to his relocating from Dublin.
“So now you can’t do that. People who want to leave [their employment] are in demand. The pool of people available is much smaller than it used to be so now people getting into senior levels and looking to become associates and so on.”
In Australia, he said, employees are more likely to move jobs when they want to improve their salaries, rather than stay where they are.
“For me the building industry as whole has devalued itself, particularly the engineering sector where people are willing to go cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, so that those who can come along with [an attractive] salary can extract people more readily.”
Mr McCabe said he particularly enjoyed his mentoring role with younger people and feels this is something the industry could well do with more of.
“The greatest leaving present I got was so much of the junior staff making a point of wishing me well and telling me they learnt so much from me in their short career to date. And that’s nice to hear.”
Unfortunately, he said, the building industry was not strong on nurturing students or graduates. This contrasted strongly with the car industry that has invested large amounts into education. The result is that engineering students “spend more time on mechanics and engineering and five minutes learning about buildings.”
“Most engineering graduates don’t have much exposure to buildings,” he said.
There is no equivalent degree in building engineering in Australia comparable to the one that he and other colleagues in Australia have done in Dublin. “The industry has to invest in education otherwise what happens is that universities go more general.”
Australia’s engineering is heavily dominated by mining, industrial and automotive, not buildings.
Kirsten Brown has joined Dexus as principal — workplace consultant, bolstering the Six Ideas team as it responds to increased client demand in the wake of the pandemic.
The specialised workplace advisory group is currently working with “a range of organisations on post-COVID hybrid workplace strategies spanning the commercial, legal, education and government sectors for single-site applications in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and for national roll outs in all states and mainland territories,” a Dexus spokesperson said.
With a Masters in Real Estate and Commerce and PhD in Health in the workplace, Ms Brown joins fellow principals Chris Alcock and Daniel Quinn.
City of Yarra chief executive Vijaya Vaidyanath will commence a new role as the inaugural head of City of Melbourne entity, Homes Melbourne, which serves the aim of improving housing access and affordability.
In collaboration with Homes Victoria, community housing providers, support services and the broader property sector, Ms Vaidyanath will work to deliver housing development on City of Melbourne land and under-utilised properties.
“Our actions, and the actions of our partners in this space will help to create a more equitable society – one that does not separate the haves from the have nots,” Ms Vaidyanath said.
Gabrielle Trainor has joined Built’s statutory board, alongside chair, Wal King, independent director, Dieter Adamsas, executive chairman and founder, Marco Rossi and chief executive and managing director, Brett Mason.
The experienced non-executive director and advisor has spent the past 25 years as a leader in sectors ranging from everything from infrastructure, transport and urban renewal to sports, arts and culture.
Ms Trainor also currently chairs the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce as well as being a director of Infrastructure Australia, NSW’s Western Parkland Authority and the ACT City Renewal Authority. She is a member of the board of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority and a commissioner of the Australian Football League, director of Zurich Australia Ltd and WAM Global Ltd and a trustee of the Charlie Perkins Trust.
“Gabrielle’s leadership with the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce and her focus on the productivity, diversity and performance of the construction sector aligns with our continuing commitment to creating a great culture for our people and the relationships we have with our clients,” Mr Mason said.
Meanwhile, Devan Valenti joined the International WELL Building Institute as a manager in the APAC team providing technical and market support across APAC through localisation efforts and high touch stakeholder engagement with an emphasis on ESG.
WELL vice president, Asia Pacific Jack Noonan said the posting would help support the “huge growth” the organisation was experiencing in south east Asia.
Mr Valenti was previously with engineering consultancy, ADP where he facilitated the first hospital to register for WELL Certification, prior to which he was with the Green Building Council of Australia where he managed the development of the new Green Star for Buildings tool — the biggest update to the rating tool in almost ten years.
Frasers Property Australia has appointed experienced architect and environmental designer Kate Nason as sustainability advisor, to be based out of Melbourne.
Having previously held roles with Atelier Ten, ARKit and Jackson Clements Burrow, Ms Nason stands out for her commitment and innovation in driving the transition to a net-zero future.
She was awarded the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship by the NSW Architects Registration Board, and is currently also director of partnerships and major events for the Australian Passive House Association.
“This is an exciting time in the sustainability sector in Australia,” she said. “Frasers Property is a global leader in sustainability in real estate and I am excited to work with like-minded people to accelerate and up-scale positive change in the built environment, so we can carve out a more liveable, resilient and regenerative future for all.”
Our pick of the jobs
Got some great ideas about the future of green energy in Australia? Here’s two roles giving you the chance to be one of the architects of this once in a generation shift and helping to ensure we don’t fumble it!
It’s a hot button issue that desperately needs a policy and tech wonk like yourself to add clarity and stop Australia from taking questionable actions, like propping up the fossil fuels sector, as we transition to renewables.
The Clean Energy Council is looking for a senior policy officer to work both independently and with related departments on electricity market, transmission network and utility storage matters.
As well as crafting policy positions you will engage with government bodies and CEC members to create new relationships and create external media to spread the good word far and wide, alongside director energy transformation Lillian Patterson.
On a related note, international advocacy group, The Sunrise Project is looking for a senior strategist — corporate and Industry, to similarly guide the transition to renewable energy, but this time with a direct focus on getting businesses along for the ride.
Like the CEC role, you will be tasked with creating strategy development and guidance on how to get more Australian businesses powered with renewable energy — particularly heavy industry.
According to the company, the job could include anything from “analysing supply chains, dreaming up and incubating innovative or unexpected alliances, or convening allies to brainstorm urgent responses to a major new announcement.”
Both roles need someone who not only has a deep and clear understanding of how energy networks function, but can maintain high level relationships and articulate the challenges and opportunities to the broader public.