Engineering way to fast-paced life
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.
John Howe, executive chairman of iEDM.