When Glenn Lutz decided to join Arcadis Asia as CEO last year, he was looking for a new challenge. He’d spent his entire 24-year career in the engineering industry working in various positions at Fluor Corporation and he was ready for a change. So when the opportunity arose to join his long-time mentor and former manager Peter Oosterveer, he jumped at the chance to move to Arcadis.
“I worked with Peter in my previous organisation for at least 15 years and he left about a year before I did in order to take the lead at Arcadis. I really respected him as a leader,” Glenn reflects. “I was also intrigued by the challenge of reshaping the business here in Asia, which had a lot of parallels to what I had previously done in the Middle East, but wasn’t in completely the same space.”
Glenn was also attracted to the vision and values of Arcadis, as well as the opportunity to live and work in Hong Kong. “My career has afforded me the opportunity to explore and embrace the people and cultures of multiple countries around the globe. For quite some time, I have had an affinity for Asia, and the opportunity to lead Arcadis’s Asian business has fully merged these two passions. There is such rich diversity across Asia and the ability to fully immerse myself within it is immensely rewarding,” he says.
“Beyond that, at Arcadis we’re making a positive impact in our world. Before I came on board, I was pleased to see the commitment the organisation had in terms of sustainability. The tagline for the company is ‘improving quality of life’ and, to be honest, this is something we aim for on each of our projects.”
Sustainability is one of the core values at Arcadis and the team is passionate about taking responsibility for servicing the industry accordingly. “It’s a philosophy that has shaped our approach to our projects, clients and how we run our business. By 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, and improving the urban environment is our biggest opportunity to improve quality of life for those people. Balancing the immediate needs of today without compromising the inevitable demands of tomorrow is at the heart of sustainability at Arcadis,” Glenn says.
“Balancing the immediate needs of today without compromising the inevitable demands of tomorrow is at the heart of sustainability at Arcadis.”
“In Asia, we have industry thought leaders who are consulting on flood protection in Chinese megacities, waste management and smart mobility in Singapore, and building regeneration in Hong Kong. And, as members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we are involved with other like-minded organisations in shaping what future cities will look like, working in partnership with them to generate constructive solutions and taking shared actions – it’s good for society, good for the planet and good for business.”
Arcadis provides design and consultancy services for natural and built assets, often working in close partnership with major contractors. “It’s a very symbiotic relationship. We do bring tremendous value to the table, in terms of our designs and engineering. But at the end of the day, the execution of these projects is done by contractors,” Glenn says.
“It’s essential for us to be able to work collaboratively to deliver each project. We bring expertise, but our success is dependent on working collaboratively with others to bring the full project to completion.”
In his role as CEO, Glenn is responsible for leading nearly 4,000 people in 50 offices spread out across 11 markets. One of his biggest challenges is accelerating the deployment of the company’s global service offerings throughout Asia.
“A large part of what I’m doing is trying to better leverage our global capabilities so that we have the ability to deploy global expertise throughout the organisation. This is one of the areas where Asia probably lags behind some of the other regions,” Glenn notes. “We want to bring the full suite of Arcadis’s capabilities to our clients in Asia, which gives us a tremendous opportunity for growth.”
Another challenge facing Glenn is the impact of digitisation on the industry now and in the future. “It’s really about fully leveraging the data and knowledge that we have captured in our projects,” he says. “We have a whole digital transformation in front of us, which is a difficult transition for some. But at the same time, it’s essential for our success.”
“I’m constantly impressed by the ability of Arcadians to assist our clients in delivering the huge range of projects that are genuinely improving the quality of life for the communities in which we are working.”
Shortly after Glenn started at Arcadis, he overhauled the digital transformation team. “Rather than having it run by technocrats, people who were very wise in the industry and its tools, I put someone in place who understood that it’s a matter of transformation, and transformation is about people,” he explains.
“So we now have a great leader who’s not only fostering the discussions around the tools and technology, but really looking at it as a wider change process for the business.”
Since joining Arcadis, Glenn has been inspired by the calibre and commitment of his team. “I’m constantly impressed by the ability of Arcadians to assist our clients in delivering the huge range of projects that are genuinely improving the quality of life for the communities in which we are working. For example, I recently visited the new Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore for which Arcadis delivered cost and commercial management services. Seeing the accomplishments on a project that has truly redefined the airport customer experience was a particularly proud moment. Without our people, we would not have achieved what we have, and we certainly would not be able to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the future,” he smiles.
“I arrived with a mandate to make a step change in the Asian business. Having been in the role for a little more than a year, while it’s not been without challenges, we have already accomplished a great deal and are seeing the results of our hard work. Observing the entire team coalesce around the challenges that I have placed before them has been a personal highlight for me.”
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