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Top 100 : 2009
COVER STORY – TOP 100 AUSTRALIA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL ENGINEERS LEADERS IN MANY FIELDS I was again assisted in the selection By Dietrich Georg Managing Editor T 32 his is the sixth annual list of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers published by Engineers Australia magazine and sponsored by Engineers Australia. The list again demonstrates the wide range of areas where engineers are holding influential positions. We found engineers in leadership roles, not only in engineering companies but also in academia, the public service, defence and politics. To be eligible for selection, candidates must hold a degree in engineering or a related field such as metallurgy, which would make them eligible for membership of Engineers Australia. Included are engineers working in Australia, independent of their nationality, as well as Australian citizens based overseas. As the list focuses on present influence rather than historic achievements, only those who are currently in influential positions are included. This year there are 36 new entries, compared with last year, mainly due to new appointments, resignations and retirement. This demonstrates the depth of the pool of engineers in senior management roles, ready to take on top leadership positions. process by an advisory panel made up of five distinguished engineers from different fields and one well-known leadership consultant. The engineers all held influential positions in the past but are no longer eligible themselves due to their retirement (see sidebar). To be able to reflect the wide range of areas in which engineers are involved at senior levels, we maintained last year’s seven categories – Industry, Consulting, Public Service, Associations, Academia/Research, Engineering Expertise and Politics/Other. We did not rank the names in accordance with their level of influence, as the task of making comparative judgements between the different positions and areas of activity would have been very difficult and subjective. In determining the influence of the candidates we started with a number of measurable criteria. This provided us with a solid objective basis for the selection process. In the Industry category we mainly looked at the size of the organisation each candidate is responsible for, measured by revenue and the number of personnel. We also took into account the industry sector each organisation is operating in to achieve a representative spread of activities. For instance we included leaders of smaller organisations who are market leaders in their field but might not have made it onto the list purely by the size of their organisations. In the Consulting category we used revenue and staff numbers. In Academia/Research we started with the size of the universities, measured in terms of student numbers, and then looked at the seniority of a candidate within the university hierarchy. We also included the leaders of several research groups outside the universities which are at the forefront of their field of activity. In Associations we considered membership numbers as well as international coverage. In Engineering Expertise we looked at technical achievements and their current impact on engineering practice. Even though we have found this category the most difficult to select with some level of objectivity, we believe it is an important part of the list. While all the other categories recognise influence through organisational and managerial leadership, this one provides the opportunity to also recognise influence through technical excellence. To avoid that a handful of engineering experts reappear time and again due to their ongoing influence in their field, we decided to renew all the names in this category every year. The Politics/Other category includes engineers who are influential in other areas such as politics. Generally we selected only the most senior engineer from each organisation, except where subsections of the same organisation are large in their own right and operate virtually autonomously. Inevitably the selection process contained subjective elements and we don’t imagine everyone will agree with our choices. But we are confident that this year’s list will again demonstrate the breadth of influential engineers in this country. ■ Advisory panel Civil engineer Dr John Nutt is a former chair of consulting engineer Arup in Australasia and currently a vice-president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JUNE 2009 Mechanical engineer Peter North is the immediate past chair of the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering at Sydney University, and a former director of Leighton Holdings and Cochlear Ltd. Chemical engineer Emeritus Professor David Wood is a former dean of engineering and head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Melbourne University. He is currently the chair of the World Chemical Engineering Council Executive.