Engineering way to fast-paced life

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS - JOHN HOWE, IEDM KATH­LEEN SKENE & ALISTER THOMSON

FIRST JOB – AND WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Two-way boy for Leo John­son Con­struc­tions. I was 23. Ba­si­cally co-or­di­nat­ing the trucks from the of­fice. I stayed there for four months. Then I joined Matt Weath­ered as a ju­nior engi­neer. That be­came Weath­ered Howe En­gi­neers. We had a very suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship up un­til Matt died, 11 or 12 years ago. The busi­ness was sold in 2005 to Hy­der Con­sult­ing, which is now Ar­cadis. Then I con­sulted to dif­fer­ent groups, in­clud­ing prop­erty com­pa­nies in the Mid­dle East. I be­came a board di­rec­tor of Ax­iom Prop­er­ties and had roles at Grif­fith Uni­ver­sity as hon­orary pro­fes­sor of engineering and now on the ad­vi­sory board. I am ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of iEDM – a spin-off of Weath­ered Howe. One of the di­vi­sions was tourism, leisure and events. So in that di­vi­sion we were in­volved in the engineering side of theme parks, mo­tor­sports, casi­nos, all sorts of stuff. In 2008 we formed iEDM, which now has 35 peo­ple and in­volved in mo­tor­sports events. We do de­sign and con­struc­tion for Townsville, Gold Coast, New­cas­tle, Bathurst, Ade­laide Su­per­car events. We’re help­ing out IEC, Tony Cochrane’s com­pany, with the mo­bile ex­hi­bi­tion for Real Madrid. I’m also chair of the South­port com­mit­tee.

BEST BUSI­NESS AD­VICE YOU’VE RE­CEIVED?

Al­ways hire peo­ple smarter than your­self.

WHAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT?

I think the abil­ity to un­der­stand more of the ba­sic le­gal and ac­count­ing is­sues such as cash flow and balance sheet man­age­ment. Also the thing I’ve ad­mired in other peo­ple is the abil­ity to build com­pa­nies that use strong strate­gic ini­tia­tives or man­age­ment prac­tices.

YOUR GOLDEN RULE IN BUSI­NESS?

The cus­tomers comes first.

A LONG LUNCH — A WASTE OF TIME OR ES­SEN­TIAL? EX­PLAIN

In the past, it was es­sen­tial to gain­ing work. In the present en­vi­ron­ment, it is not as im­por­tant, but it de­pends on the peo­ple and cir­cum­stances. So­ci­ety has changed in terms of of­fer­ing, and re­ceiv­ing, hos­pi­tal­ity.

WHO IS ON YOUR BUSI­NESS MO­BILE’S SPEED DIAL?

The one per­son who men­tored me, who is no longer with us, is Terry Robin­son. He was a great men­tor to John Wither­iff and I. He taught me a com­mon­sense ap­proach to busi­ness, and also to man­age fi­nances.

IF YOU HAD A $1 MIL­LION SPARE, WHAT IN­DUS­TRY WOULD YOU IN­VEST IN NOW?

Com­mer­cial prop­erty. I think South­port is the place to in­vest. Any­where on the light rail route as well.

WHAT SHOULD GOLD COAST PRI­MARY STU­DENTS STUDY?

I think they are not taught enough about their own ca­pac­i­ties, and how to man­age their minds and bod­ies. Learn­ing how and why you re­act the way you do to si­t­u­a­tions. You learn about how to use com­put­ers but no one teaches you to use the best one in the world – your brain.

BIG­GEST FRUS­TRA­TION DO­ING BUSI­NESS ON THE GOLD COAST? AND HOW TO FIX IT?

What we need to do is move on from the past, recog­nise what we have, and be able to have more ra­tio­nal de­bate about im­por­tant is­sues.

Pic­ture: SCOTT FLETCHER

John Howe, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of iEDM.

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