Buildings and Places, People Spotlight, Transportation

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a director leading an advisory services team in our Buildings + Places business line in London.

Edd Burton joined AECOM in 2020 to build a strategic procurement capability, advising clients how to establish their supply chains to optimize the delivery of major projects and programs. During his time with the business, Edd has led a range of infrastructure projects in the United Kingdom and internationally.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry.

I very much fell into the industry by chance. After graduating, I took the first temporary job I could find to save money to travel. I ended up doing data analysis in the construction procurement department of an electricity company. After traveling, I returned to the same team in a permanent role responsible for contract management for a contractor delivering substation upgrade projects. Since then, I haven’t looked back!

What I enjoy most about the construction industry, and particularly consultancy, is the diversity of projects, people and opportunities. It’s a cliché, but no two days are the same and I’ve been fortunate to work across a range of sectors and geographies, including living in San Francisco for four years.

As an industry, I think we have a responsibility to share stories of the projects we’ve worked on and experiences we’ve had, to inspire the next generation to join our industry.

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

One of my first projects at AECOM was the Northumberland Line Rail Project, which will reintroduce passenger rail services to freight-only lines and deliver economic and social regeneration of the region. I led the procurement of a contract package to deliver six new stations along the line.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this project was the collaborative approach. The team included a range of commercial and technical experts from AECOM, a specialist sub-consultant, the client and Network Rail, which meant we were able to develop a procurement strategy which both drove best value and maximised the social value commitments, which were the key outcomes required for the project.

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

I’m currently working on a project with an amazing company called Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV). Their vision is zero-carbon aviation, which they aim to achieve by 2030 through their Airlander aircraft. The helium airship, which is powered by efficient engines, currently achieves a 75 percent reduction in emissions over comparable aircraft and has a range of uses including logistics and tourism. Aviation is the most climate-intensive form of transport and therefore the successful launch and adoption of new technology, such as HAV’s Airlander, will play a key role in the fight against climate change.

We are providing advice to HAV to support their development of a production facility in the UK, which will include two 45-meter-high hangers where the aircraft will be assembled, and associated infrastructure. The facility will deliver the first Airlanders and with the number of orders HAV’s clients are placing, time is very much of the essence. Our role is to support HAV in securing an investor-developer to finance and construct the facility, before leasing it to HAV for long term.

Share a piece of career advice.

In addition to establishing strong professional connections, learning about the interests and backgrounds of your colleagues and clients is what makes work even more fun. Invest time in engaging with people you work with and get to know them better. I believe in the saying “people choose to work with people they can connect with,” and this is particularly important in the consultancy environment.

I’m also a big fan of mentorship. One of the things I like most about AECOM is the accessibility of senior leaders and their willingness to provide feedback and advice, which has helped shape my time with the business.

Originally published Mar 29, 2023

Author: Edd Burton