Leadership transition builds on GHD’s model of success

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  • Ashley Wright will become the next CEO of GHD following the retirement of Ian Shepherd on 31 March 2016.
  • Based in Perth, Western Australia, Ashley is currently General Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa and previously led GHD’s Western Australian operations.
  • Ashley’s career spans 27 years across Australia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the UK. As an engineer, he has worked on some of Australia’s landmark projects, including the Perth to Bunbury Highway and the Mandurah Railway in Western Australia, and the Westlink M7 motorway in Sydney.
  • GHD is one of the world’s leading engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services companies with 8500 people around the globe and revenues of AUD1.6 billion.

One of the world’s leading engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services companies, GHD, has named Ashley Wright as the next Chief Executive Officer, taking over from Ian Shepherd on his retirement at the end of March 2016.

The company has embarked on a smooth internal leadership transition to implement the next stage of its strategy, which aims to deliver sustained growth by connecting clients with the technical capabilities of its global network.

The incoming CEO brings an international perspective that’s aligned to GHD’s expanded global footprint. Ashley’s career spans 27 years of professional experience across Australia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the UK. Ashley is currently General Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Based in Perth, he previously led the company’s Western Australian operations.

GHD has developed a truly global presence, with a strong base in the USA and Canada complementing its foundation operations in Australia and the Asia Pacific. The Europe and Middle East region is also increasingly important for GHD, with a rapidly expanding UK business, and high-performing operations in Qatar and the UAE.

Ashley says, “GHD is well positioned for future challenges, with more than 8500 people across five continents. In an industry increasingly exposed to global competition and the volatility of resource prices, GHD has developed a business model that is confident, reliable and innovative. Our business is diversified and geographically balanced, and our brand is renowned for client service and a culture of safety.”

Russell Board, Chairman, says, “Thanks to our long-term succession planning process, the Board has been able to focus on highly experienced internal candidates in assessing potential CEOs. Ashley brings passion and energy to his leadership and is a highly strategic thinker.”

Ian has announced he will retire after a career of over 30 years at GHD, including almost eight years as CEO. Under his leadership, the company has grown significantly, from an annual turnover of AUD0.9 billion in 2008 to AUD1.6 billion in 2015. Continuing GHD’s record of nearly 90 years of sustained growth and success, Ian has led the company through the boom and in a different context, the GFC and, more recently, the dramatic decline in global commodity prices.

He says, “When I became CEO, GHD had fewer than 100 people in USA and none at all in Canada. Today, nearly half of our revenue is generated in North America. We have also grown the proportion of our private sector clients, including multinational companies that operate assets around the world. At a time when some economies are stagnant and with commodity and energy prices trending down, having a diversified business is helping us adapt, grow, and add value for our clients.”

Ian attributes some of GHD’s success to the company’s model of employee ownership. “The future direction and sustained growth of our business is determined by the people who work here, and this is why we have been able to set and execute long-range strategies. Our people realise they are custodians of value who build up a business and then pass it on to the next generation.”

Ian continues, “Our industry is constantly changing with new types of services and demands from our clients for more insights across their assets. What has not changed is our ability to grow and develop our leaders. I will leave GHD knowing it is in very capable hands.”


Ashley Wright

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