Ashley Wright is to become the next chief executive of global multidisciplinary professional services giant GHD effective 1 April 2016, following the retirement of Ian Shepherd on 31 March.

Mr Wright is currently GHD general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and is based in Perth. He previously led the company’s Western Australian operations.

His career spans 27 years across Australia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the UK. As an engineer, he has worked on Australian projects including the Perth to Bunbury Highway and the Mandurah Railway in Western Australia, and the M7 motorway in Sydney.

Chair Russell Board said due to the company’s long-term succession planning process, the board could focus on internal candidates in assessing potential CEOs.

“Ashley brings passion and energy to his leadership and is a highly strategic thinker,” Mr Board said.

Mr Shepherd retires after more than 30 year with company, including eight as CEO.

“When I became CEO, GHD had fewer than 100 people in USA and none at all in Canada,” he said. “Today, nearly half of our revenue is generated in North America. We have also grown the proportion of our private sector clients, including multinational companies that operate assets around the world. At a time when some economies are stagnant and with commodity and energy prices trending down, having a diversified business is helping us adapt, grow and add value for our clients.”

He said GHD’s employee ownership model helped the company succeed.

“The future direction and sustained growth of our business is determined by the people who work here, and this is why we have been able to set and execute long-range strategies. Our people realise they are custodians of value who build up a business and then pass it on to the next generation.”