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Geoff French

Geoff French


Geoff was President of FIDIC from 2011 to 2013 having been elected to its Executive Committee in 2005. He is also a Past Chairman of the ACE (Association for Consultancy and Engineering) in the UK. Geoff was the 149th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers for the year up to November 2014, having been a Vice President since 2008. He was Chairman of Scott Wilson for eight years until its acquisition by URS in September 2010. Geoff is a civil engineering graduate who joined Scott Wilson in 1968. Following the transition from partnership to limited company in 1995 he was appointed to Managing Director, initially of the business in the UK. He oversaw the growth of the Scott Wilson business both in the UK and the major international business centres around the world, ensuring the Group’s continuing position in the top ten UK engineering consultancies. He was appointed Group Chairman in 2002 and he oversaw the tripling of the firm’s revenue and the highly successful flotation in March 2006. In 2008 he became Non-Executive Chairman of the Group.

The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with Past FIDIC President Geoff French

Geoff French
GeoffFrench
Past President
FIDIC
In an industry centered around innovation, the question always remains – what’s next?  To help answer this, we’ve launched a series of blog posts exploring the past, present, and future trends in architecture, engineering, and construction consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts. In this post we spoke to Geoff French, Past President of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) and Past Chairman of the Association for Consultancy Engineering (ACE) based in the UK. Geoff was also the 149th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). He holds a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Southampton. Q: What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the AEC industry in your region over the next 5 years? A: Making appropriate use of improved technology. Q: How do you see the current role of AEC firms shifting, what do you think is causing that shift, and how must AEC firms react to survive? A: The scale of the firms has increased very rapidly. It seems that our sector will become much more like the accountancy and audit sector where a few, very large firms, dominate. Q: Knowing what you know today, are there things you would or could have done differently to prepare for or react to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008? Are there things that you are doing differently now because of the GFC? How have you evolved your processes or policies post-GFC? A: Better diversification of both markets and business sectors would have helped – as would cutting deeper and faster. Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association? A: Helping clients get the right solutions to their problems by ensuring they are asking the right questions of their consultants. Q: How has your office environment changed, and how is your firm continuing to evolve your workplace environment, procedures, and technologies, to accommodate the evolving demands of the incoming millennial workforce? What considerations and changes are you making regarding collaboration, efficiencies, work/life balance, technologies, etc.? A: There has been a lot of change in what we use at work but relatively little in how we work. People still come together to work in offices both large and small – and seem to enjoy working in that way. This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industries.