Buildings and Places, National Security, People Spotlight, UK&I

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a national security leader from our Buildings + Places (B+P) business line in the United Kingdom and Ireland and providing you insight into their business development inspiration and work.

Darren Carlile leads the national security market sector across UK&I and is based in AECOM’s London office. His work focuses on providing a full range of multidisciplinary services delivering infrastructure solutions to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UK Intelligence Services and the U.S. Department of Defense around the world.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry

I joined the British Army at 16 years of age as an apprentice and went on to pursue an education in building and civil engineering. I was responsible for designing and delivering military infrastructure projects around the world in support of military operations. Delivering infrastructure projects that can improve people’s lives or provide military capabilities to keep the world safe inspires me to continue doing what I do in the Defence and National Security sector.

Being a veteran, I have many transferable skills to offer. For example, I champion mentoring and support to service leavers as they transition away from the military. In my role leading the National Security sector, I actively support Armed Forces charities and events and lead the revalidation of our UK MOD Employers Recognition Scheme Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award. This is the highest award that recognizes AECOM’s support to veterans and reservists.

In addition, as an industry leader, AECOM has been selected as a finalist in the Ex-Forces in Business Awards as Employer of the Year and was a finalist myself for the Service Leaver of the Year award, with the awards ceremony held in London in September 2022.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

As the lead for the National Security team, it has been fantastic to build on our relationship with our key client, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), supporting them with specialist services including climate and resilience. AECOM works with all branches of the UK FCDO and other Partners Across Government (UK Intelligence Services, UK Home Office, UK MOD, National Crime Agency) and the United Nations as part of the World Food Programme and Conflict Stability & Security Fund (CSSF) across the UK&I and globally.

Since 2017, we have delivered projects for the FCDO across five continents and over 35 counties. This has included securing several high-profile and multidisciplinary British Embassy projects, notably Washington DC, Cairo, Mumbai and Nairobi, refurbishing the UK’s diplomatic missions globally.

More recently, we have delivered social value workshops in Jordan. As suppliers to the CSSF, we have supported our client, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) working with FDCO in using a whole-of-government approach to find creative solutions to meet the most complex national security challenges and promote international peace and stability. AECOM is the first-ever international leader to provide engineering and technical skill support in Jordan. This valuable endeavour further fortifies a strategic relationship/objective between the UK and Jordanian government as part of the CSSF Fund.

The activities were for underprivileged Jordanian youth, both males and females, within the age group of 18-23 who lack skills, opportunities, and/or resources in technical and soft skills. The social value workshops allowed the youth to learn about the engineering industry, network with AECOM and local contractor’s engineering specialists and learn the fundamentals of resume and cover letter writing. It also provided a six-month paid internship with the local contractors. This allowed the supply chain (EUBC, SABTI and Al Hassanah and other stakeholders) to hire talent that helps enhance project delivery standards in Jordan.

The project work and added value we are supporting FCDO with, truly deliver our key mission within the national security team – safeguarding nations for a better world.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

I am proud to have been involved in the creation of London’s Olympic Park, which provided a setting for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was involved in creation of the athlete’s village dining tent, which was built to the size of four football pitches, catering for 6000 diners at any one time. There were walk-in fridges built to the size to two tennis courts and required kitchens to cater for different cultures and cuisines – meeting these specifications was a key deliverable of the project.

The temporary dining facility was nestled amongst the athlete’s village, which as part of the legacy of the project, provided over 9,100 new homes for local residents. This is just one part of the incredible legacy left for the local community to celebrate sport within their economic, cultural and social development.

The project was particularly challenging – the date of the Olympics opening was non-negotiable, and building a temporary building was reliant on the permanent buildings meeting their deadlines. Security was also an everyday challenge with airport-style checks across the site.

With multiple stakeholders, communication and regular on-site meetings meant we were kept up to date on the constant changes and requirements of the Olympic organising committee.  

Share a piece of career advice

Believe in yourself, seize opportunities and seek your goals, you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it—anything is possible!

Originally published Oct 19, 2022

Author: Darren Carlile