The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with ACE CEO Nelson Ogunshakin
In an industry centered around innovation, the question always remains – what’s next?
To help answer this, we’ve launched a series of blog posts exploring the past, present, and future trends in architecture, engineering, and environmental consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts.
In this post we spoke to Nelson Ogunshakin, President and Chief Executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) based out of London, United Kingdom. Nelson has 30 years of experience in engineering and construction. He has advised numerous organizations on commercial and financial transactions deals in the UK, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and North America. He has extensive experience with construction, telecommunications, free trade zone development, mining, transportation, oil and gas, real estate, and hospitality related investment projects.
Q: What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the AEC industry in your region over the next 5 years?
A: The use of Cloud technologies to facilitate remote working and increase flexibility in the working environment will have a major impact on the future of the AEC industry. Technology as a driver of change in working methods – for example, smart mobile phones – will also be significant.
Q: How do you see the current role of AEC firms shifting, what do you think is causing that shift, and how must AEC firms react to survive?
A: Larger firms are better at understanding this technological imperator than mid-sized ones, while smaller ones are somewhat in denial. There is a consensus on the importance of BIM (Building Information Management) Systems. Still, the need for global operating platforms to deliver across different business landscapes will be critical to future success.
Q: Knowing what you know today, are there things you would or could have done differently to prepare for or react to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008? Are there things that you are doing differently now because of the GFC? How have you evolved your processes or policies post-GFC?
A: More attention to global trends and a better understanding of the true impact of globalization would have helped to prepare for the GFC of 2008. A sharp re-adjustment in risk appraisal by the financial system was overdue, but the timing was hard to predict.
Since the crisis? We work to diversify portfolio and service offerings, expand geographical reach, broaden market diversification, and use technology to gain competitive advantage.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association?
A: Firms are integrating vertically and horizontally into fewer, but larger practices. Managing the wider strategic implications of this market consolidation is a major challenge. In addition, we are working to increase demand for high quality and competent engineers and consultants in emerging markets. We hope to establish social and economic infrastructure development programmes across these major growth markets.
Q: How has your office environment changed, and how is your firm continuing to evolve your workplace environment, procedures, and technologies, to accommodate the evolving demands of the incoming millennial workforce? What considerations and changes are you making regarding collaboration, efficiencies, work/life balance, technologies, etc.?
A: Our office environment now requires more agility and dynamism. Technology is a game changer. The use of newer technologies for communication, measurement, and relationship management lets us make decisions faster than ever. It also allows the flexibility to work from home or anywhere to complete projects/tasks without distraction.
Today, it is necessary to be politically astute and aware of foreign markets. This knowledge helps predict trends and better deploy strategy. More and more, we involve members/clients in the development of future infrastructure research.
This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industries.