Industry Interviews – Project Director and Business Leader
“Mental illness can affect anyone and certainly affects more people than we know about. As a leader in the engineering and construction industry, what do I need to do to create the environment where people can feel comfortable to put up their hand and ask for help, knowing that we will be there caring for them in the same way we would if they had a physical illness.…”
Name: Ross Jones
Length of Time in industry: 30 years
- Business leadership and growth of key regions in a Tier 1 engineering consulting organisation.
- Design Joint Venture (DJV) Project Governance Group (PGG) representative for the $5B Westconnex M5-East Design and Construct (D&C) project, 2016 – 2019.
- DJV PGG representative for the $5B Westconnex 3A D&C project, 2019.
- PGG member and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) peer reviewer for the Parramatta Light Rail EIS, 2017 – 2019.
- PGG member and EIS peer reviewer for the West Metro EIS, 2017 – 2019.
- Construction Alliance Leadership Team member for the $650M quadruplication of the East Hills Rail Line between Kingsgrove and Revesby, 2008-2014.
- PGG member and EIS peer reviewer for the Sydney Metro – Chatswood to Central EIS and Central Station EIS, 2015 – 2017.
- Project Director and Alliance Leadership Team member for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade of the Pacific Highway Planning Alliance (2010 – 2015).
- Established global mental health program for a Tier 1 engineering consulting organisation that led to being made a NSW Government Mentally Healthy Workplace Ambassador.
- Executive responsible for the development and implementation of the organisation Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for a Tier 1 engineering consulting organisation.
What I’ve learned:
- The key to effective leadership is that it has little to do with the leader and everything to do with the people being led. How do you create the environment to unleash their potential.
- Being an effective leader means being comfortable with ambiguity and with not having all of the facts, but having enough to see the possibilities that enable you to have a go, or to direct resources in a better direction.
- I’m passionate about making a difference internally, in the lives of the people I work with and externally, on the societies in which my role has a footprint. To make a difference I have to be authentic. I’m not Jack Welsh, but as Ross Jones I’m the best leader I can be.
- You have to be able to back yourself and be resilient, but you also need to be an effective active listener. An important component is being empathetic toward your people and your clients.
- You spend a lot of time with your people. Make sure you have some fun and provide them with opportunities to take the mickey out of you as the leader.
- Two quotes summarise my leadership philosophies:
- “The sign of an excellent leader is being able to surround yourself with people better than you, be able to retain them, support them and motivate them to be better than they thought they could ever be.” – Anon
- “Some people look at things that are and ask ‘Why?’ I look at things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard-Shaw
- Mental illness can affect anyone and certainly affects more people than we know about. As a leader in the engineering and construction industry, what do I need to do to create the environment where people can feel comfortable to put up their hand and ask for help, knowing that we will be there caring for them in the same way we would if they had a physical illness.