CIO50 2021 #26-50: Carl Duckinson, Aurecon
As a design, engineering, and advisory firm, Aurecon is committed to bringing extensive engineering expertise to solve problems through a digital lens. The role of IT is to enable a modern workplace that provides a user experience that ‘wows’, says CIO Carl Duckinson.
Over the past three years, there has been a significant reduction in the organisation’s infrastructure footprint so that the business can spend less time on technology operations and more on understanding its users’ needs.
“The speed of our network increased by over 400% whilst reducing costs by 40%. Many of our legacy, on-premise systems have been replaced with cloud-based (SaaS) platforms such as Workday Financials, HCM, Microsoft 365, Teams, and Autodesk,” says Duckinson.
These platforms supported objectives to be inclusive and enabled flexible work arrangements for all employees, which in turn enabled them to adapt to COVID lockdowns seamlessly. During the crisis, the company transitioned from 60 offices to a work-from-home environment for 6,000 employees across 12 countries in ten days.
“We migrated everybody from Microsoft Skype to Teams, enabled secure access to legacy systems, and moved hundreds of Terabytes of project information, models, and data from office-based file servers to SharePoint Online. But it could only be happen because of the strategy we already had in place, including Cloud and Mobile first, secure by design, buy rather than build, and services over software,” Duckinson says.
Just this July 2021, Aurecon also deployed Workday Financials and PSA across the entire organisation bringing all of the people, financial, and project information and processes together into an integrated platform.
Reflecting upon the immense challenges to effect such dramatic change, Aurecon Group’s CEO, Bill Cox, is fully supportive of this nomination saying, “Carl has done an extraordinary job at guiding Aurecon through our digital transformation journey. He has kept our people and clients at the heart of all of our decisions every step of the way. Thanks to Carl’s vision, we’ve set up the organisation for success during a time of great disruption and future-proofed our business systems and operations.”
Building a culture of innovation
Aurecon has built a long track record of creating an innovative workplace culture – one that has been recognised by the Australian Financial Review. It was recognised as the Most Innovative Company in 2020 and one of Australia and New Zealand’s Best Places to Work 2021.
“When dealing with clients, one of Aurecon’s distinctive design principles revolves around problem finding, not just problem solving. We help them anticipate and understand the challenges ahead and then co-create the solution. So, we applied this same approach to our own digital transformation journey. We conducted a close analysis of the company’s existing business practice in the context of technological change. Understanding the problem made it possible to contemplate a solution,” says Duckinson.
“The art of storytelling really helped the executive committee and the Board understood why we needed to change, the vision that we needed to achieve, and how we would go about it. By getting everyone to agree why we needed to change, and the vision for what would change, we were then able to have a very sensible conversation about the investment required and the organisational changes that were necessary to be successful.”