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Meet the Middle East experts judging CW Awards 2018

by Neha Bhatia on Nov 15, 2018


The Construction Week (CW) Awards 2018 will be held at Dubai's JW Marriott Marquis hotel on 4 December, 2018.
The Construction Week (CW) Awards 2018 will be held at Dubai's JW Marriott Marquis hotel on 4 December, 2018.

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Judges have been revealed for Construction Week Awards 2018, to be held at Dubai's JW Marriott Marquis hotel on 4 December. Some of the Middle East's top construction professionals from the contracting, consulting, and real estate development sectors make up the jury this year.

One such professional is Aaron Chehab, chief commercial officer at KBW Investments. Chehab's appointment was revealed in October 2017 by KBW, a Dubai-headquartered outfit led by founder and chairman HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal. KBW's portfolio includes numerous companies in the construction and related sectors, such as Klampfer Middle East, Klampfer Electro Mechanical Contracting, Arcadia Engineering, NGP Limited, and Sharjah-focused real estate developer, Arada. 

At the time of his appointment, KBW said Chehab was picked for the role to drive "the development and delivery of KBW’s growth strategy in the region, with a particular focus on core markets" of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In its statement, KBW said Chehab boasts "a lengthy roster of leadership roles across two continents", with 16 years of business development and commercial management experience on large-scale projects in the GCC. Education credentials held by KBW's chief commercial officer, as per his LinkedIn profile, include a bachelor of building in construction management from Australia's University of Technology, Sydney, and his professional experience features work with firms such as Grocon and Kier. 

Kier Group also has representation on Construction Week Awards 2018's judging panel, with managing director for the Middle East, Sean Fenner, set to judge this year's event. Fenner's LinkedIn profile shows the phenomenal growth he has noted at the UK civil engineering outfit since joining Kier in 1996. His initial 14-year stint at Kier included roles such as section engineer in the UAE, design engineer in the UK, and section manager in Hong Kong. Between 2002 and 2011, he served first as project manager, and then sector manager, for Kier in the UAE. 

Fenner was deputy project director within the Kier-Laing O'Rourke-Kaden joint venture (JV) between February 2011 and March 2015. Now based in Dubai, he returned to Kier's Middle East operation in April 2015, and was promoted to managing director in May 2017. 

Another regionally renowned judge on this year's panel is Mohammed Tahaineh, senior vice president of procurement at Damac Properties. Tahaineh, like his fellow judges, has been in his current job at Damac for more than a decade, having joined the Dubai Financial Market-listed developer in December 2006. Tahaineh holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from University of Jordan, and has previously worked at Al Moosa Contracting (Pioneer) in Dubai as projects and construction manager, his LinkedIn profile shows.

As the commercial department leader at Damac, Tahaineh's role involves procuring construction contracts and general services, including pre-qualification, tender invitations, tender return reviews, commercial finalisation, and contract awards. He is also charged with post-contract commercial management, and is said to play "a significant role in advising the executive management and legal [teams] on the commercial aspects of disputes". 

Joining Chehab, Fenner, and Tahaineh on Construction Week Awards 2018's panel is Matthew Lamont, chairperson of the newly formed Dubai Local Hub at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). His role at CIOB follows three years at the institute's Regional Council and Dubai Committees, and is implemented alongside his new job as project director at Turner & Townsend.

Lamont has more than 20 years of experience in construction project and programme management, with his former employers including Aecom, Robertson Group, Colain, James G Findlay, Egis/Core's JV, and Network Rail. On his LinkedIn page, Lamont lists University of Strathclyde's BEng degree in civil engineering with European studies among his educational qualifications. 

READ: CW Awards 2018's shortlist revealed

Professional development organisations are also represented on this year's judging panel by Matthew Jackson, branch chair for the UAE at Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (Iosh). Jackson is a chartered health and safety professional and currently serves as head of health, safety, environment, and quality (HSEQ) at construction consultancy WSP.

Jackson was appointed to his WSP role in September 2017, prior to which he was regional HSEQ manager (November 2016-September 2017) and health and safety consultant (September 2015-October 2016) at the firm. His work experience includes a two-year role as group senior health, safety, and environment (HSE) manager of Al Jaber Group, and 11 years in various HSE roles within Her Majesty's Government, which is more commonly known as the UK Government. Jackson holds a BSc degree in occupational HSE from University of Greenwich, and has appeared in multiple exams by Nebosh, his LinkedIn profile shows.

Market watchers and analysts play a key role in Construction Week Awards' judging panels each year, and 2018 is no different. Cynthia Corby, Deloitte Middle East's construction leader and audit partner, and the company's Middle East audit director of operations, is one such expert judging the nominations this year. Corby is an important speaker at Construction Week's Leaders in Construction Summit UAE each year, and returns to the jury in 2018, having previously sat as a judge for Construction Week Oman Awards this March, and Construction Week Awards 2017 last December.

Corby's work experience involves roles with Deloitte & Touche South Africa in Durban between 1989 and 1999, and another six years with Baker Tilly in Birmingham, UK, as audit partner. She is currently also the chair of ACCA Women in Finance, a role she has held since June 2013. Among Corby's educational qualifications is a BCompt degree in accounting from University of South Africa.

Also returning to the panel this year is legal expert Sachin Kerur, albeit in a new role from the one he held during his time as a Construction Week Awards judge in December 2017. Kerur was, in July 2018, named office managing partner for Reed Smith Dubai and Abu Dhabi – a role he was appointed to after a long stint as Pinsent Masons' head of the Middle East region.

As Reed Smith's website outlines, Kerur is a partner in the company's energy and natural resources practice, in addition to being head of its Middle East offices, and has more than 22 years' experience of advising government and private-sector clients. A well-known professional within the corridors of construction activity in the Middle East and India, Kerur has previously "advised on some of the most important airports, road and rail networks, power plants, commercial and residential developments, [and] oil and gas facilities" across both regions.

The final judge on Construction Week Awards 2018's panel is an equally well-known analyst in the Middle East's construction sector. Founder and chief executive officer of construction intelligence platform ProTenders, Karim Helal, makes his debut as a judge for Construction Week Awards 2018. Helal, known regionally as a tech entrepreneur and angel investor, has led ProTenders to becoming a popular directory of data and insights from the Middle East's construction industry. ProTenders is currently home to more than 14,000 companies, and offers information on the plethora of planned, active, on-hold, and completed projects in the region. 

In addition to his role at ProTenders, Helal is co-leader at the Dubai Chapter of the Society for Construction Solutions. His work experience includes roles with Ericsson, Helal & Partners, Seed Startup, and Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi. Helal states on his LinkedIn page that he holds an MBA in general management, entrepreneurship, and strategy from HEC Montreal in Canada, and a bachelor's degree in electrical and electronics engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal.

Construction Week Awards 2018 will be held at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Dubai on 4 December, 2018. A limited number of seats are available to attend the event and network with its highly esteemed judges and nominees, so make sure that you book your spot for the evening's gala ceremony now. Additional information about the event is available on Construction Week Awards 2018's website, and the event's full shortlist can be read here.



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