Buildings and Places, National Security, People Spotlight, Project Management

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a director from our Buildings + Places (B+P) business line in Europe and India and providing you an insight into their project management inspiration and work.

David is a director in our Project Management team in London and works predominantly in the National Security sector. He has been with AECOM since 2014, originally as a consultant before transitioning to a full-time role in 2018. His projects have been across Europe and the Middle East, as well as Peru, Guyana, Mali, Kenya, Uganda, the Caribbean and Thailand.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry

After serving in the British Army for 25 years, I wanted a second career that would let me use the skills I had learnt and the chance to carry on doing work that I felt was making a difference. Military personnel have a great ability to get things done – and this is something in common with project managers (PM) in the industry. Someone once said to me that a project is a series of problems waiting to happen, and PMs are often the ones to sort them out. It seemed like a natural move.

The work I do in the National Security sector sees me working on several UK (and occasionally international) government contracts. This can be very challenging and incredibly rewarding – not only do our projects help secure and protect the British government staff working in fragile locations overseas, but we are making a tangible difference to the lives of the people in the countries in which we work by helping promote stability and security.

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

My favourite is our three-year project working with the Policía Nacional del Perú or the Peru National Police (PNP) to help improve their forensic capabilities and develop their 10-year strategy, which included guidance on infrastructure requirements.

This project allowed me to work with some outstanding specialist consultants and the PNP officers were also great to work with – always very welcoming, entirely professional and keen to improve their skills so that they could better serve the public. We heard first-hand from the PNP officers how the project was having a direct impact on their day-to-day work, which was very rewarding. I also found the people in Peru very friendly and the food in Lima is fantastic – I would highly recommend a visit.  

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

Following hurricanes Katrina and Irma in the Caribbean, we deployed infrastructure advisors to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to help the local government plan and implement the rebuilding of the critical infrastructure that had been widely destroyed in the storms.

Our team was working under very austere conditions and with limited basic resources. They were key advisors to the Recovery & Development Authority, which had been set up by the BVI Governor’s Office to manage the overall recovery programme. The team led projects to repair and improve essential water, energy, communications and transportation services, as well as design and manage the reconstruction of elements of the local prison and school on the main island of Tortola.

Share a piece of career advice

Grab opportunities when they are presented, even if it puts you outside your comfort zone and means challenging yourself. The personal and professional benefits you will get from working with other teams or on different types of projects, will make you more employable, you’ll be a greater asset to the business and it will broaden your horizons.

David Russell

Originally published Jan 11, 2023

Author: David Russell

David is a director from AECOM's Buildings + Places (B+P) business line in Europe and India.