It’s quite amazing to think and reflect on that fact that I’ve been in the business of helping build big stuff for the best part of 16 years.
When I say building big stuff, it’s not big, shiny new stuff like your Salesforce or your AWS but, y’know, real big, knock-your-socks-off awesome stuff like airports, refineries and power stations – it’s the kind of stuff that you gawk at with sheer amazement on “How Do They Do It”, watching teams of the world’s best engineers and construction workers, choreographed like a Russian ballet, come together to erect some of the most amazing facilities on the face of the planet.
Having been in the midst of it all, I can tell you that it’s nothing but absolutely awe-inspiring, unbelievable, incredible and a whole lot of fun to have worked in as many countries as I have done years.
As I get ready to embark on a new phase of my professional life and leave the world of dust bowls and diggers behind for now, I wanted to do so by finally being able to unveil one or two things about the way we transformed IT in the organization I am so fiercely proud to have served, and to share a little about why I am taking the chance to go in a different direction, one which I hope will ultimately be able to benefit other organizations, irrespective of their business, by focusing on building and delivering some truly world class solutions.
Ready ? Then let’s begin.
Bechtel is, in my humble opinion, one of the most truly amazing companies in the world and without doubt a great place to work. A privately owned, fourth generation run organization, founded in 1898 by Warren A. Bechtel, it has a history, a heritage, a culture and ethics that makes it the envy of the Engineering & Construction business, and, having been part of the organization since 1996, it really isn’t a surprise that 2011 marked the 13th year in a row that Bechtel has been named “Top US Contractor”.
Providing agile IT services to people and locations that are, quite literally, spread across the four corners of the globe to support a complex global business is not a challenge that is unique to Bechtel, nor to the construction industry in general, but the way in which “we” approached this challenge, culminating in the design and deployment of what became an industry-recognized poster-child for private cloud has proven to be an enormous success and is without question the basis of a solid platform from which the execution of future business-aligned IT strategy in Bechtel will be launched.
There is an argument for and against the notion that “great leaders are made, not born”. I am not sure which side of the fence I sit on with that particular hypothesis, but my experience tells me that there are not many people around who could have achieved what Bechtel’s visionary CIO & SVP, Geir Ramleth, did in leading the multi-year IT transformation. Inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame in 2008, Mr Ramleth has given several interviews over the recent years that capture the essence of the need for change and how that change was driven. Below are summaries of those.
- Network World – October 2008 – “The Google-ization of Bechtel“
- CIO Magazine – January 2009 – “Rebuilding“
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been given an opportunity to take over the Bechtel IT Global Systems Engineering Team back in 2006, culminating in my relocation to the USA in January of 2007. By virtue of that role, I became a part of the small core team that was hand-picked and tasked with defining and leading the new direction and making the vision a reality.