Anuj Anand is the VP for Technology Services and Solutions at Ausenco, a global leader in providing consulting, engineering, project delivery and optimisation services for large scale, resources, energy and industrial projects. If a mine needs to be built, or a recycling plant designed, or a bridge constructed, Ausenco is brought in to provide expertise in design, engineering, project delivery and commissioning.
Anuj is responsible for ensuring that Ausenco’s people have the best technical tools available so that they can stay cutting edge and serve their clients efficiently and effectively.
Anuj took some time to talk with me about how he manages to stay innovative in a very traditional industry
1) Change is hard. You need to be willing to put in the effort to work through resistance
In an established industry like engineering, many organizations have entrenched ways of doing things. This can make innovation a real challenge. Anuj says that driving the change management to adopt a new technology or process can feel like a tough slog, but there is just no shortcut to it. “You need to take people on the journey with you and prove to them that it works.”
“When I started as an engineer, the design process was still largely a 2D procedure that used lots of detailed blueprints. I was an advocate for using 3D modelling tools but there was a great deal of resistance to that because people didn’t want to change their process. We got there – but it took us 5 years to make the transition from 2D drawings to 3D models.”
Anuj also emphasises that respecting cultural differences is often overlooked but is critical in global organizations. “We are a global company with offices in Australia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Canada, the USA and the Pacific Islands. Each office has their own unique culture. Some are more accepting of mandates that come from the hierarchy, some will get into heated debates and question everything. You need to respect their cultural context and engage with them in a way that works for them.” Sometimes that means it takes longer and it’s harder he acknowledges.
“When I get frustrated, I remind myself, to make great things, you need to put in the hard work.”
2) Successful technology isn’t just about technology, it’s about understanding the business needs and building the relationships to effect change
When people think of an internal IT department, they often think that they are just plugging in computers and updating everyone’s Windows machines. But Anuj’s team knows that they can add a lot more value by understanding the functional business problems. But knowing you can add value is only half the battle. Other people need to know it too.
That’s where developing relationships is critical.
“From early on, we’ve proactively inserted ourselves into discussions where we know we can make an impact. We participate in the Leadership meetings and meet regularly with the Presidents of the different business lines. It’s very unusual for an internal IT group to be involved in those conversations, but it’s the secret to our success.”
“When we understand the priorities and functional business needs of each part of the business, we can make sure that we can allocate the budget and resources in the way that will serve them best.” Anuj points out that the best way to build trust, is by helping the business line be successful. As you build trust, the more likely they are to come to us early on in their problem discussions. Having a proven track record of successes and savings obviously helps too.
3) To stay ahead, you need to be constantly innovating
Like most people who are paying attention, Anuj is painfully aware of how quickly technology is changing. “Here’s what keeps me up at night. If we aren’t always thinking about how engineering will be done in 2020 and beyond, we’ll be left behind. When you are in a very mature, risk averse industry like ours, there can be a temptation to be complacent.”
These days, Anuj spends a lot of time looking forward at technology trends “so that we can be better, faster, stronger. And do it first.” “We need to be able to continue to provide cutting edge service to our clients, and that won’t happen by continuing to do the same thing.”
Thanks for letting us take a peek under the hood Anuj!
Ausenco is a global company providing consulting, engineering, project delivery and asset management and optimisation solutions for the minerals & metals, oil & gas and industrial sectors. They provide services across the full project lifecycle from preliminary feasibility studies to the construction of multi-billion dollar projects and ongoing management, maintenance and optimisation.