Frank Sweet, head of the global environment business line at AECOM, outlines what he sees as the most exciting opportunities and pressing concerns for the industry, in a teaser ahead of our Global Summit.
/ Business, Global, Insight, North America, Skills challenge, Strategy
AECOM’s Frank Sweet will be sharing his perspectives on how the environmental & sustainability (E&S) consulting sector is responding to major market drivers and disrupters at the Global Business Summit 2022 – ‘Leveraging ESG opportunities to deliver transformational change’ – (23-24 August, Denver). There, he will be joining the industry response panel alongside senior representatives of Anthesis Group and Jacobs.
Frank offers a preview of the major themes that the panel will debate.
EA: The E&S advisory space is experiencing rapid change. Last year you suggested we might see the “renaissance of environmental consulting”. Where do you see the biggest opportunities developing over the next five years for consulting companies like AECOM?
FS: Yes, the pace of change is accelerating and I expect we’ll look back over the next five years and see that the environmental consulting market expanded at growth rates two or three times the norm. Growth like some of us experienced in the 1980s and 90s.
EA: What do you see as the main factors driving those opportunities?
FS: It would be easy to oversimplify the answer and say climate change, which is true, but it’s far more complex. If I had to name just two I would say private investors voting with their savings and a more empowered generation making decisions about careers and lifestyles that produce positive environmental and social outcomes.
EA: How is AECOM planning to capitalise on these?
FS: Connecting the two, to put it simply. Evolving a flexible workplace to attract and develop talent and focusing our efforts on our established clients as they pivot to decarbonize and produce sustainable, resilient and environmentally and socially beneficial infrastructure and products.
EA: Everyone talks about opportunities – but change also leaves some things behind. What aspects of E&S consulting do you anticipate might shrink or become irrelevant over the next few years, either globally or regionally, and what are the reasons for your answer?
FS: It seems unlikely that we’ll have enough environmental professionals to complete all of the work that needs to be done. For example, we are all probably aware, at some level, that we are in the process of abandoning traditional field methods in favor of enhanced technological solutions. Some work done by humans will need to be eliminated to accomplish society’s ambitious goals.
EA: Which client sectors do you think will experience the greatest change as a result of broader market and policy drivers in the short- to mid-term?
FS: That depends a bit on how we define change. The electrical generation industry may deploy the most capital to upgrade generation, transmission and distribution lines. But the oil & gas industry will completely change their business model and go through the greatest change in the near time. EV charging and hydrogen will rapidly be added to their retail service station offering. In parallel, the industry will build out green and blue hydrogen production, the former powered indirectly or directly by renewable generation and often through their own direct investment.
EA: How will AECOM respond to this?
FS: The short and easy answer is that we already are. For example, in Europe we have been supporting the deployment of EV charging and hydrogen at service stations and are under contract to do the same in the US and Canada. The longer answer is probably best left for a deeper discussion in Denver.
We invite you to join the conversation at this year’s Global Business Summit in August, where Frank will be discussing further how AECOM Environment’s strategy is evolving as a result of key market and policy drivers, and how it is assisting clients in their response to the same.
Book before 1 June and save up to $500 with the early-bird discount.
View the conference agenda and book your ticket here.
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