Recently appointed Director Matt Douglas shares his experiences about his engineering career and gives us an insight into the built environment in Brisbane.

Congratulations on your promotion. What does being a Director mean to you?

For me personally, being a Director provides the opportunity to influence the strategic direction of the business for our staff and clients. As leaders, we are responsible for developing and mentoring our people to deliver high quality and leading outcomes for our clients.

What have been some of your best experiences been throughout your engineering career?

Earlier in my career, undertaking post graduate studies at the University of Canterbury in Fire Engineering allowed me to travel and broaden my knowledge of the Built Environment. It was also my first exposure to performance-based design as an engineering framework. Within Umow Lai, as one of the pioneers in the fire engineering field, performance-based design has been a core value and has allowed our people to deliver industry leading solutions.

At a project level, I have worked on some truly outstanding projects, across a variety of sectors including the Herston Quarter redevelopment, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Brisbane International Terminal, YOUI Headquarters & the QUT Science and Engineering Centre.

Currently, I am working with the University of Sunshine Coast to deliver the Audio Visual services for their new Moreton campus, which is due to open to students in just 11 months’ time. This is a truly transformational project for the client, as we are delivering all the AV services across the IT network. Whilst any new technology can present challenges, we have a great design team all working towards delivering a truly technologically leading solution.

Can you tell us a little bit about the built environment in Brisbane?

After some lean years in recent times, Brisbane is entering an exciting period with some major projects finally underway, which will certainly transform the city. At an infrastructure and transport level, Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro will provide a significant boost to the public transport network and allow people to move more freely around the city.

The Queens Wharf Integrated Resort, the redevelopment of Eagle Street Pier and the possibilities around Brisbane Live, will create some fabulous new entertainment precincts for the people of Brisbane to enjoy our great city.

Finally, the redevelopment of Herston Quarter, over the next 10 years, will also create an amazing health and community precinct to support both the public and private health sector and certainly one we are very proud to be involved with.

Where do you think Umow Lai add value in the Queensland built environment?

We have developed highly specialised teams across the BIM, Renewable Energy, Security, Architectural Lighting, Audio Visual and IT services. These emerging disciplines, outside of the traditional core MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) services, will play a greater role in our industry moving forward.

In order to deliver these specialist services, we enable and support senior leaders in our business to continue to contribute at a project level. This fundamental core value within Umow Lai, was something which initially attracted me to the business.  So often, the opportunity to influence the design is missed early in the design phase and only rectified in a latter phase at a significant impact to the project. For all our projects, we seek to carry out internal concept design reviews to challenge and test the engineering design approach.

Not only does this provide a forum for informal learning for our younger staff but can often generate new ideas for the benefit of the project team.

What would you like to see change in the built environment in Queensland?

As an industry, we need to reflect and consider how we define success at a project level. Ultimately, we are here to deliver the best project outcomes for our clients, from the initial design phase, through to delivery and operational phases of a building’s lifecycle. If we can create procurement and delivery methods which are collaborative as opposed to adversarial, we can align the goals for all stakeholders including owners, designers and delivery teams. Sadly, regularly in our current industry, success for one party can only be achieved at the cost of another party.

I expect the ability to create high performing delivery partnerships, will be a major trend moving forward in our industry.