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Top 100 : 2012
IN THE nine years since Engineers Australia first published the Top 100 most influential engineers in Australia, we have built up a good landscape of the areas in which engineers exert their influence. We naturally have a major role to play in large industrial and infrastructure projects and this is evidenced by the inclusion of the heads of several consulting and construction companies. We also naturally exert influence through our expertise, evidenced by the inclusion of several researchers and academics, some of which have risen to run entire universities. However, the skills of engineers are transferrable across multiple industries. We see engineers running large government departments, holding high political office and running large corporations unrelated to engineering, such as Medibank Private. A key question that arises, is what are these transferable skills? This year we have extended our profile of the Top 100 engineers to include their views of what makes an engineer influential. The response has revealed a diversity of views and very different ways of addressing the question. It seems there is no single factor but some common themes emerged. Some of these themes were predictable, including analytical skills; a logical problem solving capability; a methodological approach; an ability to understand complex areas and find improvements; and a general approach of testing ideas against reality. Influential engineers also have good management and people skills -- the ability to build strong relationships; to work through people and bring them along with a strong vision; they empower staff; are in tune with client needs; have good team working and collaborative capacity; and have good understanding of how industries and markets work. Another important theme related to communication, including the ability to empathically understand the true needs of a community; to see the big picture; to account for multiple points of view; and the ability to convey complex topics in a manner that anyone can understand. Some of the factors that seemed to set the Top 100 apart from other engineers is self-awareness -- including an understanding of their own weaknesses and how to compensate for them; not being afraid to voice and opinion or take risks; a capacity to anticipate looming problems; and sheer passion for what they do. This summary of the nature of an influential engineer contains just some of the insights found in the profiles of this year s Top 100. You will have to read them all to discover a fuller range of factors involved. You can also watch some of them speak about this topic online (see box). This year s list is an indication of the breadth of leadership talent in the engineering profession in this country. As such, it is appropriate that the Top 100 this year is sponsored by the Centre for Engineering Leadership and Management. (l-r) Tim Kannegieter talks to Guy Templeton (President and COO of Parsons Brinckerhoff) and Santo Rizzuto (CEO and Managing Director of SKM) prior to a photo shoot for the Consulting category. What makes an engineer influential? by Tim Kannegieter, Managing Editor 28 ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JUNE 2012 COVER STORY -- TOP 100 Where you see this image of a video camera you can log on to our online version of this magazine, navigate to the appropriate person and click on the link to see them talk about the topic. To view the online version, log on at www.engineersaustralia.org. au then go to "Resources and Library", then "Online Library / Engineers Australia magazine". Navigate to the June issue.