Friday, 27 September 2019

John Holland is at the forefront of Australia’s infrastructure, building and rail markets. Operating across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, John Holland have been transforming city skylines, connecting regional centres and providing vital infrastructure for more than six decades.

We caught up with Chief Strategy Officer, Jayne Whitney to speak about John Holland’s current projects, #ISCACONNECT and steps being taken to drive sustainability.

1. What Projects is John Holland Currently Working on in Australasia? 

This is a big year for John Holland. We are celebrating our 70th birthday, which has coincided with the opening of some of the biggest projects in our history – including Sydney Metro – Australia’s first automated train network, Canberra Light Rail, and the WestConnex New M4 Tunnels.

We are currently working on the majority of megaprojects underway in Australia, including the Sydney Metro City and Southwest tunnels, the West Gate Tunnel and Melbourne Metro Tunnel.

So, for a company whose first project delivered was a woolshed in rural Victoria in 1949, we have certainly come a long way.

2. Why Did You Decide to Partner With ISCA for #ISCACONNECT? 

There is no denying that infrastructure and construction projects have an enormous impact on the environment. Our footprint is huge, which means as an industry we have a responsibility to drive real change – not only in how our projects are delivered but in their ultimate impact on people’s lives.

Partnering with ISCA is a natural fit for John Holland. We are a future-focused business, and we believe that the current infrastructure boom provides a huge opportunity to change our industry for the better.

The infrastructure boom also gives us the opportunity to change our cities and regional centres, making them more connected than ever before.

We can never forget the real reason we are here – the end users of the roads, railways, hospitals, airports and education facilities we build. Making their lives easier through the infrastructure they rely on, giving them more time with their loved ones through faster and safer transport connections – that is why we are in this business.

Sustainability has never been a “bolt-on” for John Holland. It is embedded in our projects and our corporate strategy, in that building resilience for communities, people and the environment is essential to how we deliver infrastructure.

Our history with ISCA dates back to the Cotter Dam built in 2013, which was one of the first projects to be given a rating by ISCA. On a personal level, it is important to me to grow ISCA’s impact. As a previous board member and Deputy Chair, I am committed to embedding ISCA in our industry more broadly and increasing its impact.

I also want this partnership to recognise the hard work of our sustainability experts, who have helped transition John Holland into a sustainability leader. Their effort in educating project teams and driving innovation every day is leading to decisions that make us a more environmentally and socially responsible industry.

3. What is John Holland Doing to Drive Sustainability Within Your Organisation? 

Sustainability is front and centre, both at a corporate and at a project level. Our company strategy has set out our commitment to the UN SDGs and we have embedded the building of sustainable communities, people and environment into how we do business.

Our purpose as a business is that we are up for the challenge of improving lives – this informs decisions made at every level. This means we integrate sustainability into everything we do – it is not just the responsibility of one person, it is the responsibility of everyone who works for us and with us. We drive our people to build infrastructure in a way that is sensitive to local communities and environments, that empowers our people and their imagination, and that adds benefits to communities that go beyond the physical infrastructure.

A key area that we are currently focusing on is creating greater gender equality and balance. As we all know, we work in a male dominated industry. Currently, 22 per cent of our people are women and we are focused on not only increasing this, but ensuring women at John Holland are supported throughout their career. We have launched female mentoring programs specifically for women on projects, Project Leadership Development courses and this year we recruited more female graduates than ever before. This year’s overall intake was 35 per cent, compared to 19 per cent  last year. In Victoria, we managed an even 50:50 split between men and women in our graduate cohort.

We also  closed the gender pay gap and importantly, are constantly conducting gender pay reviews to ensure it stays closed.

4. What Innovations Are Most Proud of?

There is a lot of exciting innovation happening on our projects, but a few really stand out for me.

Our Sydney Metro Northwest Rapid Transit (NRT) Project is doing its bit to tackle deforestation by paving the way for large scale sustainability timber applications on infrastructure projects. New station canopies and multi-story parking façades were constructed with 100% responsibly-sourced timber, receiving an Australian first award for reshaping the supply chain capabilities and the FSC certification approach.

In Victoria, our Melbourne Metro Early Works partnered with the University of Melbourne to serve as a test bed for geothermal energy storage research. Their results have been used globally to inform the uptake of this technology and improve geothermal models.

A program that particularly makes me proud to be part of John Holland is our Pathway Program. This offers qualified engineers from marginalised or refugee backgrounds the chance to get their start in the Australian construction industry and is a great example of how companies can spread the benefits of the infrastructure boom.

5. What Are You Most Looking Forward to at the Annual Conference? 

Well, I would have to say our Innovation Panel. We have put together a panel about the practical use of sustainable materials on construction projects –and it won’t just be a talkfest. My goal is that we can learn from each other about what worked, what didn’t, and walk away with a clearer roadmap for driving change on projects.

The most exciting part is that we have gathered representatives from contractors, government agencies, research institutions and specifications committees to talk through the challenges and opportunities that come from new, sustainable materials.

The purpose of this forum is to effect change, so we will be focused on providing practical strategies to overcome any obstacles people still experience when making the case for new construction materials.

It is important we all work together to improve the uptake of sustainable materials on projects across the industry, so my hope is that this forum is a way for us to learn from each other and put those lessons into practice.

Jayne Whitney – John Holland Chief Strategy Officer 

Sponsored by John Holland.

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