late last year at The Museum of Contemporary Art in the
presence of 100 business leaders from Asia and Australia.
70th Anniversary Celebrations The Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Australia
Left to Right: YK Chan Finance Director WT Asia, Janet Lum WT Sydney, Paul Fung WT Australia & New Zealand)
Keith Wong Chairman WT Asia
Left to right: Luke Glaswish CTPG, Orawan Taechaubol Country Estate, Gerry Heaton WT Sydney
Left to Right: YK Chan Finance Director WT Asia, Phil Anseline Executive Director WT Australia, David Stewart Executive Director WT Australia, Paul Goldstraw Joint Managing Director WT UK & Europe, Keith Wong Chairman WT Asia, Nick Deeks Managing Director WT Australia, Tim Roberts Executive Director WT Australia, Dean Smith Joint Managing Director WT UK & Europe
Nick Deeks, the company’s Managing Director, first joined the firm during the turbulent nineties. Having endured these years and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, he resolved to face down the challenges with a broad range of changes which have shaped the practice as we see it today.
“I wanted to transform the way we did business and the way people perceived us. I wanted people to want to come and work here. The ultimate aim was that people would be knocking on our door, asking for a job,” says Nick Deeks.
Nick shared a sense of the company’s direction with
The Asian Executive.
“One of my first tasks as MD was to take our restrictive trust structure and persuade our directors and shareholders of the benefits of morphing our practice into a bona fide corporation,” says Nick. The consequence of this restructure immediately beneficial: a smaller, more agile board and business that operated with a more significant deal of responsiveness and flexibility to a rapidly changing construction environment.
Following the bold restructure, a 2020 five-year strategic vision began. “The plan was based on three pillars that would build a
stronger, more resilient business, invest in our people and transform our industry as a whole”, says Nick. WT’s vision is crystal clear: To transform the world of the cost consultant into a global business partner. Pillar One was the new vision, including values, mission, and integrated communication strategy.
Pillar Two was investment and growth – investment in WT’s people, including headcount, training and development, culture environment and increase in revenue and profit.
Pillar Three was to transform WT’s business and industry. This meant reshaping the business model to include a range of consultancy services, changing the way its services are delivered and becoming a client-led industry leader adding facilities management consultancy
and sustainability services, which are now offered from the Australia, UK and Asia businesses.
The objective of the 2015 plan was achieved by mid2017, and in 2018 WT elected to reboot it to 2023.
As a diversified global consulting business that started life as a quantity surveying firm, WT have moved into engineering services cost management, sustainability consultancy, commissioning, acting as employer agent, health consulting, contract claims and disputes, independent certifier/superintendent, PPP/P3 advisory and lenders technical advisory.
By 2015, the Australian business was growing in more ways than one. The new vision meant a dramatic change in culture with more emphasis and focus on people, workplace, culture and environment. In Sydney, it set about a move to new office space, uprooting from its North Sydney home of more than 50 years to 45 Clarence Street in the heart of the CBD.
“After 50 years in North Sydney, we felt it was time to move to a new workspace that reflected our vision and enabled effective teamwork,” says Nick Deeks.
The result was a ‘non-office’ office. The new agile working environment is an open and social workspace with a fivestar Greenstar fit-out, and no individual offices.
The breakout space is the heart of the office and is used to host industry and networking events for organisations such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), as well as professional institutions. A fit-out is an essential tool you can use for cultural change. “Over the years, we’ve gone from large offices to allocated workstations to what we have now. Nationally, that gave us big cultural momentum”, says Phil Anseline, Executive Director (Australia). The Sydney office sets the benchmark not only for WT but for all workplaces in Australia. The Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra offices have since moved into agile workspaces.
Nick advocates a somewhat strident view of Australia’s construction industry’s capacity for digital innovation. “I think we are still in the dark ages compared to other industries. This lack of digital innovation is occurring at
a time when our population is rapidly growing, and our cities have an extensive pipeline of projects to meet the demands of our society. The skills gap in our industry is jeopardising the development of our cities.
” To ensure WT can help future-proof our cities, Nick maintains that the industry needs to embrace and invest in digital innovation urgently. WT is working hard to instigate a shift towards embracing digital technology in Australia.
“We’ve kicked off a global AI partnership, and are working on software developments to take quantity surveying into a new era of automation.”
The WT strategic plan runs to 2023 and WT’s Board of Management is currently looking at a restructure for the Australian, North American, Indian and Middle East businesses, which will provide a platform to get them to their strategic objectives of 2023, and beyond.
“We are aiming for a further 25 per cent growth in revenue and profit between now and 2023, focusing on improvement in productivity, efficiency and incorporation of AI and robotics, developing apps and writing software to further diversify the business with an
eye on innovation,” says Nick Deeks.
The WT staff of the future are not just going to be quantity surveyors, they will also include architects who understand BricsCAD and ARCHICAD, data analytics and data scientists, and software developers. It will be a different way of working. Nick says, “We’ve already seen a dramatic transformation in the last five years, with agile, open plan office environments, where people can work
from home or wherever they choose to work, so the future office looks very different.”
“The transformation of the quantity surveyor has been slow, just like in the whole construction industry, and we’re on the brink of a major shift in how we perform the service we offer to our clients.” The future of WT is of continued growth, continued investment in its people, the way they do things, the transformation of their people, their services and their business.
It will become more of a higher-end advisory consulting service providing data analytics and leveraging data to deliver insights. Says Nick, “We are advocating for improvements not only in our profession but across the construction industry.”
“We need to find new ways of building, new ways of developing and improving, creating smarter cities, better, more efficient, cleaner energy consumptions, and more sustainable transportation.”