Career Path Spotlight: Jason Morris
At AECOM, employees are encouraged and supported to pursue career paths that best fit their unique capabilities, interests, and aspirations. Our Career Path Spotlight series takes you through the rewarding career journeys of our employees who have stepped out of their comfort zone and taken on new challenges to chart their own successful careers and growth.
This time, we caught up with Jason Morris, program management director, Saudi Arabia, to learn how he progressed in the program management career path.
Hi Jason. What do you do for AECOM?
I am currently a Vice President with Construction Services in AECOM Arabia and the Program Director for the Global Program Management initiative at AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia.We touch every part of the strategy, development, construction, and future operation of assets and infrastructure—which are not being developed on an asset-by-asset basis but as part of a coordinated vision with a major focus on quality of life, heritage, and sustainability as key pillars of opening this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site to the world.
Tell us about your career journey and how you got here.
I always wanted a career in the construction and engineering industry. I wanted to be responsible for the delivery of iconic projects, for leading teams of people to success and to travel the world while doing it. I couldn’t draw, and mechanical mathematics was not a strong suit but as a Yorkshireman I had a natural ability to focus on commercial and value issues!
I began my career as a project engineer with Mobil Oil Co. and then moved to Gardiner and Theobald and took on a role as a project and commercial manager in Prague. The next two years were among the most formative of my career, delivering everything from a Planet Hollywood restaurant to a five-star hotel to high-rise commercial office developments. This role took me weekly around Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia.
The next stop was back in London where I took a site-based role on what was then our most challenging commercial project in London at Berkeley Square.
My first major project opportunity came next in the form of the Ascot Racecourse Redevelopment. By this time, I was an associate partner. I saw for the first time how leaders of our industry reached and implemented decisions and how they gained the trust of clients to invest not only many millions of dollars in capital expenditure, but in the case of Ascot Racecourse, the future of the entire enterprise over the next 25 to 50 years.
Next stop was Australia and leading the delivery of an engineering, procurement and construction contract delivering remote accommodation. Finally, I joined AECOM as a senior program manager based in Doha. I was excited to finally introduce my family to the Middle East region. I spent a lot of time during my childhood in Abu Dhabi and then Bahrain where my father worked.
Over the last 16 years, I have had the opportunity to lead people, build businesses and deliver amazing and lasting legacies for clients all around the world. It is truly a privilege to provide leadership to such a dedicated and talented AECOM team – being part of AECOM’s story means that it will be challenging and professionally rewarding.
That is an incredible journey. What would you say has been a career defining moment for you?
The AECOM Safety for Life Program has come a long way from where we started back in 2006. Many people talk of having a safety value and where it comes from but for me it was from a fatality on site in Qatar.
Until that point Safety was something theoretical, an intellectual exercise in making sure that systems were in place and that we complied with regulation – which is important – but after seeing the consequences of a failure of safety the effect was profound.
Safety is absolutely at the core of everything and those that have experienced my leadership know that not only will I promote this as being so but that it is non-negotiable.
The education we now have available is incredible if you choose to seek it out, and we have some great safety professionals in our teams who go above and beyond every day.
If not this path, what would have been your career plan B? The older I got, the better I was at rugby. If I could have been anything else, it would have been a World Cup winner in 2003 with England.