Career Fridays, Career Paths, Energy, Energy Transition, Hydrogen

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 connected with Toby Uppington, senior vice president and global energy/hydrogen markets lead, to discover how he chose the path he’s on today.    

Hi Toby. What do you do for AECOM? 

I am in my 21st year with AECOM and currently leading our push into the emerging hydrogen economy. I also look after our client account management relationship with our largest private sector client – Shell. After travelling the world and living on three different continents, I have settled in London where I continue to hone my skills in various international BBQ styles with my wife and children.

Tell us about your journey and how you got here. 

I started my professional career keen to deploy the academic skills I learned as a geographer and hydrologist. This led me to opportunities in groundwater and contaminated land clean-up, and diverse projects including the construction of one of the UK’s largest CCGT Power Stations, Seabank 1, with Golder Associates as a contaminated land hydrogeologist. This gave me a taste for major infrastructure projects. 

After a few years, I took a break from Golder when I was sponsored by Shell to do a master’s program at Imperial College. I moved to Northern Canada where I helped develop innovative remediation technologies and directional drilling techniques. After that, I returned to Golder as a senior environmental scientist and took advantage of their employee development program. I transferred to Melbourne, Australia, where I continued to expand my direct client management skills and invested in adopting a suite of digital technologies to change the way our services were performed. 

After completing the program, I returned to the UK and continued to expand my professional skills with Golder, before joining URS to become the operational leader for the Environment team in Wimbledon and the oil and gas market sector lead in Europe. These roles taught me the complexity of bidding on major projects and managing diverse teams of people. 

I was then asked to join the Strategy and Growth team where my first task was to develop the Corporate Client Account Management Program and work-winning best practices. I also developed URS’ growth strategy for Europe, Africa and India. When URS transitioned into AECOM, I helped lead the integration of the two diverse delivery teams with a specific focus on assessing market opportunities and functional strategy for all business lines in the region. One of the most interesting initiatives I championed was the development of AECOM’s advancement into modern methods of construction by setting up a modular housing business in the UK in partnership with a major architect. This role allowed me to fully understand the Buildings + Places business and integration of all our professional design procurement and construction services for a product rather than professional services market.

Following the success of those projects, I was then asked to consider how AECOM could reposition itself in the energy market in line with our Sustainable Legacies strategy. As the senior vice president and global energy/hydrogen markets lead, I focus on implementing one of the four core initiatives of our growth strategy in the energy sector, specifically in positioning AECOM for the emerging hydrogen economy that is changing the way many of our clients consider their energy decarbonization options. 

I was also keen to maintain direct connection to external customers and work-winning, so as a dual responsibility, I took on the client account manager role for Shell – a customer I have continuously worked with for most of my career. 

What is the best part of your job? 

I never know what my inbox will bring me in the morning, and I continue to be excited and surprised by the next challenge that awaits – be it reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure or a request to present to school children on what net zero means to them in practice. 

What has been your proudest moment? 

Of all the things I’ve been involved in, developing a modular housing product that tenants now live in that are located across the UK amazes me to this day. It was definitely the hardest thing to bring together! 

If not this path, what would have been your career plan B? 

Forestry – I was offered the chance to live in the Amazon for a couple of years when I was leaving university. Maybe that was something I should have told the younger me: Don’t be afraid! 

Toby Uppington

Originally published Feb 9, 2024

Author: Toby Uppington

Toby Uppington is a senior vice president and global energy/hydrogen markets lead.