The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with AJCE Secretary General Yoshi Yamashita
Association of Japanese Consulting Engineers (AJCE)
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 construction consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts.
In this post we spoke to Yoshi Yamashita, Secretary General of the Association of Japanese Consulting Engineers (AJCE), headquartered in Japan. Yoshi is a trained civil engineer and works to enhance the status and competence of private Japanese consulting engineers through his work at AJCE.
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?
Keeping the economic growth rate up--which is linked to budget on public works
In Japan, the maintenance and renovation of social infrastructure from the past 50 years of development will be a significant project.
Strengthening alliances and development through mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
In Japan, there is a decreasing trend of young professional engineers’ participation in our industry, coupled with the aging of tenured engineers.
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?
From domestic to global. The demand and capacity of the domestic market is limited, though the domestic market is safer and easier in terms of long term survival. This makes AEC firms act protectively and conservatively. It’s important to remember that escaping from challenges cannot guarantee success in international markets.
While the domestic market is in good condition, AEC firms should invest in business development in the overseas market – human resources, tools and systems (and know-how), experience, and investment.
To be successful, AEC firms need a specialist’s advice, alliance with overseas firms, development through M&A, etc.
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?
This is a difficult question. We should train ourselves to distinguish if we are doing or going to do something beneficial to people, not for money. However, proper service remuneration is necessary to keep firms sustainable and to gain rewarding future opportunities for young engineers.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association?
Consolidation with related associations to better represent our industry to the client and to society. This will also create business opportunities.
Education and capacity building of young professionals who can compete in the international market.
Involvement in political decision making processes--this is a very tough challenge.
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.?
The effort of our association (AJCE) is to promote the opportunity of capacity building for young professionals and business development of member firms through an exchange program with overseas FIDIC Member Associations.
FIDIC tools and trainings are used to facilitate challenges.
Business development or deployment in domestic and international markets are basically in the hands of each firm. CEO’s policy and strategy are key to success. Association’s support on this matter is limited.
To become a stakeholder is one of the most important objectives in future. Government has been leading and controlling the infrastructure market in Japan.
To get out of this difficulty, we must expand our business overseas and increase competence of professionals. How? Education in school and firms (English proficiency, international way of thinking, more exchange with foreign people, business debates, risk awareness, integrity, etc.), alliance with FIDIC Member Associations, training of young professionals in foreign firms or through overseas projects, successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A), etc.
Above all, motivation, seriousness, middle-long term strategy, and a financial perspective from CEOs are deemed to be the most essential factor.
Author’s note: These answers are my personal opinion, and thus do not represent the opinions of AJCE.
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.