Collaboration is the Award Winning Approach for 2013 Queensland Young Professional Engineer of the Year

Recently awarded by Engineers Australia the 2013 Queensland Young Professional Engineer of the Year Award, AE Smith’s National Engineering Manager Leigh Graham has proven the winning edge to be his passion for customer collaboration and his commitment to the professional development of those around him.

23 Jul 2013


The judging panel were impressed with Leigh’s commitment to an excellent level of service and to the professional development of those around him gave him the edge over a strong group of candidates

On July 5th Engineers Australia, the peak representative body for the engineering profession, honoured AE Smith National Engineering Manager Leigh Graham by awarding him Queensland Young Professional Engineer of the Year.

On announcement of the award Stuart Lister, Chair of the Queensland Division Excellence Awards judging panel said; ”This year’s judging panel were impressed with Leigh’s commitment to an excellent level of service and to the professional development of those around him, giving him the edge over a strong group of candidates.”

Winning against a pool of experienced engineers

Upon learning he had won the award, Leigh said, “It’s such a great recognition. More so because it’s across all engineering disciplines in Queensland, including civil, mechanical electrical and structural. Over the last couple of years the infrastructure boom in Queensland has meant there’s more engineers here than ever before with lots of experience. So to be awarded from amongst all that talent in the market is very humbling.”

Steve Jackson, National General Manager of Construction at AE Smith and Leigh’s boss said of the award, “We’re extremely proud of Leigh. His commitment to his team, the company and his customers is outstanding. This award is a deserved recognition of Leigh’s professionalism and his unwavering willingness to work with and assist customers, suppliers, consultants and the various departments within AE Smith to ensure we deliver the very best result. People like Leigh are the reason why AE Smith are leaders in the industry.”

Awarded for work he loves – helping solve customer problems

The key to recognition by Engineers Australia, Leigh’s passion for collaboration and knowledge sharing also saw Leigh appointed as the National Engineering Manager for AE Smith in August 2012. The new position has allowed Leigh to do what he does best, drawing on AE Smiths vast and diverse professional experience to collaborate efforts between branches, projects, sites and states to deliver effective outcomes for customers.

Leigh says that despite “engineers liking their numbers”, at the heart of AE Smith are its people and their commitment to customers. “That’s why I’ve chosen to spend my whole career with AE Smith. I get a real kick out of the people I work with. Every day I get to work with a great team and we help solve customer’s problems. Within AE Smith, everyone helps each other out, you get used to that being the best way to do things. Naturally that flows on to how you work with customers and other consultants too.”

Collaboration is the way forward for the construction industry

For Leigh, his willingness to share knowledge is more than just a personal trait. He comments, “In our industry, collaboration with customers, other suppliers and consultants has become a necessity. Customers want to see return on investment (ROI). To deliver that, we all need to work together to get the best result.”

Leigh cites as example his recent experience delivering commercial office building projects with strict energy rating requirements. ”We have implemented new technologies on some of these facilities and there were a lot of people with different expertise involved. Putting the theory into practice to achieve customer objectives together was really exciting. Gaining knowledge from these types of projects whilst the technology is still emerging will put us in good stead for the future.”

Keeping knowledge in the business and developing talent

“The other important reason for playing an active role in the development of others is because we are facing a skills shortage in engineering. There is an older generation of very experienced engineers, but they’ll retire in the next 10-15 years. It’s important that we hand their knowledge down and cultivate the talent coming through. It’s essential to the business and to the industry, because that’s what we deliver to customers – expertise”, Leigh says.

Leigh first joined AE Smith for a work experience placement whilst studying Mechanical Engineering at James Cook University. Believing strongly in giving others the same opportunity afforded to him, in 2008 Leigh supervised two undergraduates through the successful completion of their final year thesis. Jonathon Ramajoo, one of the students supervised, subsequently joined Leigh’s team and has now been with AE Smith for five years. On the award night itself, it was Jonathon, pictured below, that accepted the award on Leigh’s behalf, who was on holidays in Europe at the time.

Achieving in every part of life

In his life outside of the office Leigh is a keen cyclist and athlete, soon to be competing in a half ironman this September and will attempt a full Ironman in May 2014. Leigh is also the proud father of two year old Harry. Even at home Leigh is big on development, having recently enrolled his son in BMX riding classes, taking an active role and great pleasure in coaching his son.

With no end in sight for Leigh’s list of achievements, later this year in November, Leigh’s Young Professional Engineer Award will provide him the opportunity to represent Queensland in the National Young Professional Engineer category at the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards in November.