It’s Infrastructure Week and innovation is in the spotlight. There are countless interpretations of the concept. Sure, it’s a fusion of creative problem-solving and strategic actions to improve our offerings. And, yes, it requires that we think long-term in our solutions, imagine answers that go beyond expectations, and collaborate to push boundaries. But at AECOM we’ve adopted the idea that innovation is about impact. An idea can be progressive, but it isn’t innovative until it is incubated, accelerated and carefully crafted into a service, product or technology that users embrace.
I see innovation all the time in the infrastructure work we do around the world. The Golden 1 Center in Sacramento features a first-of-its-kind displacement ventilation system that saves energy and improves fan comfort by allowing people to influence the temperature through an app. We have a team of experts dedicated to accelerating the adoption rate of electric vehicles by building inductive roadways that allow vehicles to charge while they drive. And, if you watched the Rio Olympics last summer, you saw venues we designed to serve local residents after the games by providing materials to build primary schools, neighborhood swimming pools and other community features.
When I established the AECOM Ventures team last year with a charge to drive growth through innovation, I wanted to build on this tradition of impact by positioning us as a partner to our greatest resource — AECOM’s more than 87,000 employees and “intrepreneurs” around the world. With the brag-worthy job of leveraging the high-potential ideas of our colleagues and shaping them for success in the marketplace, the Ventures team believes our most impressive innovations will be sourced from the “untapped genius” of our colleagues.
One way we’re working to harness that potential is with the AECOM Global Challenge. Last year marked the debut of this competition in which we’re encouraging employees to showcase their entrepreneurial spirit by submitting innovations that enhance our ability to design, build, finance, and operate global infrastructure assets. Over the past five and a half months, we’ve vetted entries through various review stages, including a special accelerator program that paired MBA students from leading universities with our employees to optimize their ideas for business success. There are a lot of lessons we’ve learned during this process, but one of the most compelling is the power of collaboration. Of the original entries, only 10 percent represented submissions from teams of five or more. As our employees adapted to keep their ideas competitive, collaboration among different skillsets, business lines, and geographic regions emerged as the gateway to advancement. Of the recently selected finalist teams, 70 percent comprised more than five people.
The journey from initial idea to meaningful solution is never the same, but collaboration is a timeless advantage that makes innovation in all its forms possible. If you’re interested in working together to make an impact, we’ll be hiring for more than 3,000 positions in North America over the next six months. Join us, and bring your big ideas.
With more than 30 years of experience in finance, operations, innovation, and most recently assisting in the monetization of a successful startup in the sports sponsorship industry, Jeff Stein’s focus at AECOM is on the future. Serving as Senior Advisor to the Office of the Chairman, overseeing M&A, Strategy and Innovation, and as head of AECOM Ventures, Jeff’s primary objective is to drive growth through innovation.