Paul McCormick started as an apprentice and is now a managing director in Aecom’s transport business. Here he desribes how working abroad has been a highlight in his career and inspiring others drives him forward.
Describe your job:
As managing director for transportation, UK & Ireland and Continental Europe, I am responsible for leading Aecom’s transport business in this region, including the roads, rail, transportation planning, aviation and maritime market sectors. My key responsibilities include leading the strategic vision of the business, driving increased market share, and overseeing the delivery of high-quality infrastructure projects as part of an integrated service for clients.
What do you most look forward to on a Monday morning?
Monday morning is when I have team calls with my direct reports. I look forward to preparing for the week ahead. There’s such a mix of exciting projects across my sector so I enjoy hearing about how they are evolving.
Paul McCormick AECOM
What’s the most exciting part of your day/ week?
Working with amazing teams across the geography to win new work and then delivering it ahead of client expectations is the most exciting part of my week. Another part of my job that I particularly enjoy is being able to inspire others. As often as I can, I reach out to graduates and apprentices to pass on my knowledge. It’s then incredibly rewarding seeing employees grow in capability and then eventually go on to lead their own infrastructure teams.
Why does your job matter so much?
In my role, I work with people from a broad range of disciplines but we are all working together to make a positive, lasting impact on people’s lives and society.
What specific skills have you learned through the job?
Over my career, I have developed my civil engineering skills but what has been just as important in my current role is the people skills I have gained. I work with such a wide variety of people, from those at the start of their careers right up to senior management level within Aecom, as well as a broad range of clients. Good people skills are essential to taking people on a journey with you and getting the best out of people.
What stands out as the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
I am responsible for a range of exciting infrastructure projects but the one that stands out for me is Qatar Expressways contract, the first contract I led and won for Aecom. It was also amazing living and working in Doha and embedding myself in a different culture.
How did you get into the job/what was your career route?
I started in the industry as an apprentice more than three decades ago. I initially started my career in the public sector before moving to the private sector in a range of board director roles.
How far removed from the traditional role of the civil engineer do you think your job is?
It’s very far removed. A common misconception of a civil engineer is a person with muddy boots working on a construction site. This was true for parts of my early career as I gained site experience between design projects. These days, I visit sites much less as I have a large team; but I spend a lot more of my time in between Aecom offices around the UK and Continental Europe.
We are all working together to make a positive, lasting impact on people’s lives and society.
Aecom managing director for transportation Paul McCormick
How do you see it changing in the next five years?
Aecom is constantly growing and evolving; and the industry I work in is extremely exciting right now. With both factors in mind, I see my role as progressing and driving our teams as I continue to help grow the business. Key to this will be the changes in technology over the coming years. We are on the brink of a technology revolution and I envisage being able to see projects from the comfort of the office through virtual headsets in the near future.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming an engineer?
Go for it! My main advice would be to work hard and you can achieve your dreams. If you work harder than the average person, you will get promoted more quickly than the average person. When starting out, be the person who helps others meet their deadlines. Make sure you are seen as a reliable, can-do, hardworking and helpful individual. But make sure you enjoy your job – many people’s careers span several decades, so enjoying your job and making time for family and friends is so important.
What would you be if you weren’t in this role?
An astronaut or a pilot – maybe I can become one of these when I retire.