Jeff Sharp is engineering change across the diverse business interests of Downer, the leading provider of integrated services in Australia and New Zealand. As Group Manager - Technology and Innovation, he’s charged with advancing and commercialising emergent technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) and Downer’s Smart City applications. Jeff is at the forward edge of transforming possibilities into reality. And he knows that results are driven by matching ideas to customer needs, and networking - in all its guises.
As someone tasked with keeping one of the region’s largest and most progressive engineering firms on point for a long, successful future, Jeff’s perspective as an innovation lead is influenced by how passion, choice and luck have intersected throughout his career.
On leaving school, Jeff encountered the difficulty facing most young people as they head off to uni: “You can’t see what the real world looks like or what careers will unfold”. It was only as he was coming to the end of his double Civil Engineering and Science degree that he connected the primary purpose engineers serve. He saw that at its core, engineering is problem solving and “I liked puzzles, so this profession was actually a good idea for me!”
He says a “great stroke of luck got my career off to a flying start” as he was thrown in the deep end overseeing the construction of a factory in Singapore: “I was given the plans, a list of contractors and told to go and work out the best way to build it. It was project management at the ownership level.” The opportunity to create something from the ground up provided Jeff early and valuable lessons in self-motivation, accountability, stakeholder management and the critical importance of building and supporting high performance teams.
This article is part of the Innovators Series
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