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Top 100 : 2009
COVER STORY – TOP 100 AUSTRALIA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL ENGINEERS INDUSTRY Peter Brecht, 53 Chief Executive Offi cer, Bilfi nger Berger Australia, Sydney Civil engineer, University of Newcastle A s the chief executive offi cer of Bilfi nger Berger Australia (BBA), a position he as- sumed this year, Peter Brecht is responsible for management, strategic direction and investment opportunities of one of Australia’s largest engineering and construction companies. BBA is the holding company for Abi- group, Baulderstone and Bilfi nger Berger Services. Last year, its annual turnover was $4.3 billion. Staff numbers have increased over the past few years and now total more than 7200. Earlier in the year, the company report- ed it had an order book of $5 billion and is negotiating an extra $1.4 billion in projects. Th e company is involved with several major infrastructure projects across Australia including the Clem Jones Tunnel and the Gateway Bridge duplication in Brisbane. David Caspari, 36 Vice-President Australia and New Zealand, EDS, Sydney Marin Burela, 48 President and CEO, Ford Australia, Melbourne Electrical engineer, Deakin University Falcon and decided he wanted to work for the company that made them. “Making cars always seemed like a better W idea than cleaning them. Engineering was my passport to realising this dream,” he said. “Having been brought up in Geelong, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the company.” Burela is now the CEO of Ford Australia. He is in charge of strategic direction, fi nding new revenue opportunities, ensuring the delivery of highquality vehicles, removing unnecessary costs and inspiring the company’s 4000 employees. He said the automotive industry is going through an extremely tough time, globally and locally. “Th is demands a very strong focus on day- to-day operational issues. At the same time, it is critical to keep planning for the future. In the next year, we will be focusing on new models in the pipeline.” He has found a background in engineering to be an eff ective way of learning disciplined problem-solving. In his spare moments he enjoys playing keyboards and supporting the Geelong Cats. 34 ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JUNE 2009 ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JUNE 2009 hile growing up in Geelong, Marin Burela watched his father bring home a new Ford Electrical engineer, University of New South Wales D avid Caspari’s passion for technology, which he sees as “probably the most fascinating facet of human existence today”, led him to study engineering. “Technology has made huge progress over the past 100 years. It is a privilege to work in the fi eld populated by the Galileos, Magellans and the Da Vincis that brings signifi cant achievements to the world,” he said. Caspari is the vice-president of EDS in Austra- lia and New Zealand and in charge of more than 5000 staff . In the past year, EDS was acquired by HP and is now part of one of the largest technology companies in the world with around 200,000 services staff and a broad portfolio of products. According to Caspari, goals for this year in- clude investing in innovation and breaking into new markets on the back of the new combined HP-EDS company model. Th is year, the company launched a new set of managed services focusing on infrastructure technology and SAP application management services aimed at smaller enterprise customers. Th roughout his career, Caspari has valued the skills of analytical and lateral thinking imparted by his education in engineering. “Th e precision and discipline they bring to decision-making and management are hugely benefi cial, not least of all when you are changing gears and focus from people to numbers, customers to innovation, or paper clips to policy in one-hourly cycles,” he said. Caspari holds a bachelor degree in electrical engineering from the University of New South Wales. He completed additional postgraduate studies with the Australian Graduate School of Management and the Richard Ivey School of Business, and is also a Harvard alumni. Outside of work, his interests are travel, golf and wine.