2017 Construction Week Power 100: Top 10 consultants
Meet the 10 highest-ranking consultants on Construction Week's 2017 Power 100
1. Greg Kane, Managing Director – Middle East, WSP (Power 100 ranking: 14)
A newcomer to Construction Week’s Power 100, Greg Kane replaced Tom Bower as WSP’s Middle East managing director in May 2016, and it’s fair to say that his first at the helm has been reassuringly busy.
At a corporate level, Kane has been overseeing the Middle East portion of the consultancy’s global rebrand, which saw its name change from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP in May 2017. The transition, which began following WSP’s acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2014, involved a comprehensive brand research and development exercise in consultation with 600 clients, 600 prospective clients, and 350 members of the company’s global workforce.
Kane’s team has also seen a significant amount of onsite action during the past 12 months, and is continuing to support the development of a diverse array of large-scale projects across the region.
For example, WSP’s historic Middle East project portfolio includes, but is by no means limited to, United Tower and South Surra in Kuwait; Jeddah Corniche in Saudi Arabia; and One JBR in the UAE.
Commenting on WSP’s current and future activities in the Gulf, Kane told Construction Week: “Dubai remains an encouraging market for our property and buildings business; we have secured some high-quality projects over the last year. Saudi Arabia is a large market, but one to which we are not heavily exposed [at present. Nevertheless], WSP believes that changes to how things are delivered in the kingdom will bring selective quality opportunities for the business during the coming years.”
2. Hamed Zaghw, CEO, Aecom (Power 100 ranking: 15)
Hamed Zaghw is the chief executive officer for Aecom’s Middle East operation. Zaghw, who joined Aecom as chief operating officer in November 2014, took over his current role in October 2016.
The company recorded $17.4bn in revenues during its 2016 fiscal year (October 2015 to September 2016), of which 3.7% was set as profit. As of 1 May, 2017, Aecom employs 3,920 full-time staff, of which 566 are female employees.
Aecom’s project portfolio from the past year includes the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Road with Musanada, for which the firm provided construction supervision services. In the months to come, Aecom’s team will work on key developments such as the King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia.
Zaghw said Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia would be “the single biggest opportunity for business” during the upcoming year.
3. Simon Moon, CEO – MEA, Atkins (Power 100 ranking: 18)
The last year has been a positive one for Simon Moon, chief executive officer of Atkins’ operations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. In its last financial year – between 1 April, 2016 and 31 March, 2017 – Atkins’ Middle East revenues increased to $317.1m, from $276.7m in 2015/16.
The last 12 months have seen Atkins gain prominence for its role on landmark projects such as the Dubai Opera – for which the company served as multi-discipline engineer – and the Al Ain Bus Station, situated near Al Ain Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Moon told Construction Week that Atkins’ digital vision would continue to offer growth opportunities for his team in the year to come: “The focus on […] digital engineering technologies helps Atkins keep up with the rising demand […] for faster design and delivery in realising projects’ objectives.”
4. Gary Adams, President – MEA, Parsons Corporation (Power 100 ranking: 19)
US-headquartered Parsons Corporation's president for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, Gary Adams, is proud of his team's performance over the last 12 months. Parsons MEA, he said, delivered “solid results [in] 2016 [...], particularly given sustained pressure on oil and gas prices, along with clients reprioritising projects in the region.”
He continued: “Despite these challenges, we still identified and won new work in both our traditional market sectors, as well as in our emerging markets. Our MEA business unit has posted solid results in recent years and grown significantly; the region is still responsible for about 20% of our global revenues.”
Some of the largest developments that Parsons is currently involved in include Riyadh Metro, Yanbu Industrial City, and a housing project with the Ministry of Housing in Saudi Arabia.
5. Ashraf Al-Garf, CEO, Projacs (Power 100 ranking: 31)
As chief executive officer of Projacs, Ashraf Al-Garf is responsible for the company’s 508 full-time employees in the GCC, 337 of whom are qualified engineers. Prior to taking on his current role two years ago, he served as the company’s deputy CEO for eight years.
Projacs currently has 12 active developments in its project portfolio, including Jeddah’s new international airport, for which it is carrying out project management oversight. It is also undertaking the complete project and construction management duties for projects like the Ikea showroom in Damman, a children’s hospital in Cairo, and an Aabar hotel in Dubai.
Between June 2016 and May 2017, the company completed a total of eight projects. These included the new headquarters of the Central Bank of Kuwait, valued at $300m (KWD91m), and the AlFareeda Residential Community in Jeddah, valued at $426m (SAR1.6bn).
6. Mohammed Al Rais, regional president for project management, Hill International (Power 100 ranking: 33)
This year did not start off on an auspicious note for Mohammed Al Rais and the rest of Hill International – its total revenue for Q1 2017 was $107.6m, 19.9% lower compared to the first quarter of 2016.
Its performance in the previous quarter had been no better, with the firm reporting revenue earnings of $128.8m for Q4 2016, 14.2% lower than the corresponding period of the previous year.
Attributing its overall lacklustre performance to challenging Middle East and Latin American markets, Hill International noted, however, that the reductions were partially offset by a 16.9% increase in its US activities.
All is not doom and gloom in its Gulf operations as well, since it continues to bag projects – one being a $3.3m (AED12m) Masdar City contract that it won in March this year. Hill will complete the construction of Masdar Institute Neighbourhood as part of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City.
7. Richard Beard, managing director, Ramboll Middle East and Asia (Power 100 ranking: 40)
In December 2016, Richard Beard’s areas of responsibility grew to include India and Singapore; hence, his title was expanded to managing director of Ramboll Middle East and Asia.
The expansion of his remit was not the only positive development in the company. According to Ramboll, its activity level in 2016 was “generally high”, resulting in an operating profit – in the Middle East and before interest, taxes, and amortisation – of $43.9m, which is nearly half of its global revenue of $1.6bn.
Explaining that low oil prices had affected Ramboll’s oil and gas business, Beard said that its Middle East revenue for 2017 is projected to be less than in 2016. He noted, however, that the company is currently involved in several projects, one being the Innovation Hub project in the UAE.
“Dubai Internet City’s Innovation Hub strategy and initiatives focus on building innovation centres, creative spaces, high-tech laboratories, smart buildings, and establishments that will stimulate innovation,” Beard said, adding: “Phase 1 of the project will be delivered in 2017.”
For the Innovation Hub project, Ramboll is providing multidisciplinary services, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP), structural engineering, fire and life safety, waste management, acoustics, and site supervision.
Ramboll has also been appointed to undertake the MEP and sustainability design services for Jumeirah Gate, a twin-tower, mixed-use development in Dubai Marina that will be operated under the Address brand.
Another Dubai project that Ramboll has signed on to is the SRG Tower, which is expected to be the world’s tallest residential tower upon completion. The company has been appointed to provide façade design and engineering, as well as structural engineering services.
For the SRG Tower, Beard noted that Ramboll “explored several options to blend the architecture, supporting structure, façade, and sustainability features as one integrated, optimised solution that reduces the overall weight of the building, improves its energy performance, improves the well-being of occupants by providing amenity spaces, and offers a sculpture that will become one of Dubai’s main landmarks.”
8. Dr Kamiran Ibrahim, Middle East CEO, Arcadis (Power 100 ranking: 46)
A new entry on the list, Dr Kamiran Ibrahim’s promotion to chief executive officer of Arcadis’s Middle East business was announced last week. Prior to this appointment, he was managing director of the consultancy’s operations in the UAE and Oman.
Dr Ibrahim has replaced Graham Reid, who has left Arcadis to join UK-headquartered RES Group.
The last 12 months have seen Arcadis chosen as the lead consultant and designer for Tilal Mall, an upscale retail destination to be developed in Sharjah’s Tilal City. The Netherlands-headquartered design and consultancy firm has also been appointed by Al Hosn Gas to conduct a health, safety, and environmental impact assessment (HSEIA) study on a gas project in Abu Dhabi.
9. Brian Johnson, managing partner, Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) [Power 100 ranking: 47]
Like many in the region’s construction industry, Brian Johnson has high expectations from large-scale events and their impact on business activities, telling Construction Week: “Mega events like Expo 2020 will inject a much needed boost [into the industry] for developers and designers – indeed, [the Expo] is already doing that, with an increase in development across the city.
“While the Expo site requires significant infrastructure and development, there is also a parallel increase in demand for housing, schools, commercial buildings, and hotels.”
As the managing partner of Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), Johnson has led the company for nearly 30 years. Its portfolio of projects includes the Ladybird Early Learning Centre, the Emirates International School, Arcadia Preparatory School, and Sunmarke School – all of which are located in Dubai.
At present, GAJ is carrying out architecture works on Gulf Hotel Business Bay, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn Riyadh, and Serenia Residences – The Palm Jumeirah, among other projects.
10. Bob Hope, CEO, SSH (Power 100 ranking: 48)
Bob Hope has been the chief executive officer of SSH for four years. In this role, he supervises and manages a workforce comprising 1,316 full-time employees, 481 of whom are either engineers or architects.
The company, which identifies Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman as its most important markets in the region, recorded around $100m (KWD30.3m) in revenue for fiscal year (FY) 2016. SSH is expecting this figure to go up to $120m (KWD36.4m) at the close of FY 2017.
Between June 2016 and May 2017, SSH delivered design and site supervision services for four projects, namely Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Centre; Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre; Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Xavier Cartron; and KOC Exhibition in Kuwait.
The next months will see the company working on the Kuwait Children’s Hospital, Dubai Creek Harbour, the Wave in Oman, and the Kuwait New Maternity Hospital.