Celebrating Rob Hammond’s 25 Year Anniversary

With TBH Director, Rob Hammond

Since joining TBH in 1995, TBH Director, Rob Hammond has carved out a niche career, specialising in the delivery of major projects across both the public and private sectors across Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Robs professional background stretches across a broad range of industries, including transport infrastructure, banking & finance, ICT, aviation, and utilities.

In these areas, he has developed expertise in managing large-scale, complex, or high-risk projects including the Sydney Olympic Games and high-profile ICT projects like Australia’s AUD 40bn National Broadband Network (NBN).

In 2005, Rob was appointed Director at TBH, an achievement that marked the start of a new chapter in his career. His leadership skills were further recognised during his tenure as Managing Director from 2012 to 2021, during which time he played a key role in steering the company through various challenges and opportunities that resulted in significant growth and maturation of the company.

In addition to his many professional achievements, Rob is passionate about mentoring and developing the next generation of project management professionals and his guidance has helped many in their career paths, a number of whom are now TBH directors.

As Rob commemorates his 25th anniversary at TBH, we asked him to share more about his professional journey and motivations.

What is your current role at TBH?

I am a Director at TBH, responsible for developing TBH’s Integrated Project Controls service line across all of our offices, specialising in as well as supporting, our rapidly expanding Strategic Advisory Services business.

I am also working on a number of client delivery roles, particularly relating to data centres, infrastructure, system integration and utility rollouts.   Most of these are large scale projects in both the public and private sector.

Typically, our role is to provide independent assurance services as well as supporting clients develop their internal PM maturity or establishing project controls frameworks and systems particularly for projects going ‘off track’.

What did you study and what motivated you to join the company?

My path was not a conventional one and I never actually planned to work at TBH. My involvement began when I came on board to help with preparations for the Sydney Olympics. I found the variety of work on that job really interesting and rewarding, and it kind of sucked me in.

Over the years, I’ve contemplated exploring different career paths, but the diversity of the work and the constant introduction of new challenges here at TBH have kept me committed to the company.

Every day brings something new and different. The culture of the business has always been an important factor in making me feel at home as well.

I studied Agricultural Economics (Hons), which might seem strange for someone working in a construction consulting firm. However, despite its title, Agricultural Economics is mostly concerned with statistics, forecasting and modelling which made it relatively easy to transition into roles involving delivery of infrastructure projects.

In our business, most people have an engineering background because it shapes structured thinking and provides foundational knowledge relevant to our work. But TBH’s current Managing Director, Jonathan Jacobs, and I both come from economics backgrounds, which I believe provides us with a unique perspective and a variety of skills, particularly at a managerial level.

It makes sense that having a diverse group of thinkers in the company will enable it to make better decisions, so this is something I always encourage and why I’m a strong supporter of TBH’s gender diversity.

Tell us about a career highlight? 

As previously mentioned, I was involved in both the Sydney Olympics as well as the National Broadband Network (NBN) at its inception, both of which were career highlights. With the NBN, I was onboard when the delivery organisation was being stood up and it was fascinating to see how politics and egos got in the way of common sense.  It was quite a contrast to the Olympics where people were generally all pulling together to deliver a great Olympic Games.

Becoming Managing Director at TBH was probably my biggest career highlight. And this too, wasn’t something I intended to do. Instead, things just sort of happened but I’m very glad they did.

What major innovations or industry trends are you most excited about? 

Without a doubt, the industry trend I am most excited about is Artificial Intelligence (AI). I’ve been experimenting with AI tools for a while and continue to be amazed by their potential. I think it is important for TBH to explore these technologies to remain relevant as new technologies emerge.

When I started in this business, we still used big sheets of paper to draw the programmes we now produce using project management software. Consultants drew everything by hand, and it often took them a week or more to do so. If someone made a mistake, they had to start again from scratch. As a result, it was a very manual and labour-intensive process.

Then when computers came along, we adapted them to become part of our service offering and TBH would have been left behind if we had not. Now it’s the same with artificial intelligence and all the other tools we will need to incorporate into our services to succeed and stay relevant to our clients.

How have you managed work-life balance throughout your career, especially in high-pressure situations?

A good work-life balance to me is all about staying active. I focused a lot of my energy on work for a long time, especially after I was appointed Managing Director.

Unfortunately, I subsequently developed pneumonia and ended up spending several weeks in hospital. I was working hard without sleeping and everything just kind of caught up with me. There were lots of warning signs in retrospect, but I didn’t pay attention to them like I should have.

In the same way, five years later I developed some nagging back issues that I had not had before and again ignored, until it was too late. Both were wake-up calls for me that I needed to take better care of myself.

From those lessons, I learned how important it is to take time to rest and recharge.

Exercise is now something I do regularly, and I especially enjoy surfing and hiking. I find being active helps me feel better and clears my mind. I also notice that if I stop exercising, I stop thinking clearly, which leads to stress.

Just as we must work to maintain physical health, we need to learn to identify how feelings of stress and fatigue can signify that we need to slow down, Otherwise, everything catches up fast.

The other thing that has been a key foundation to dealing with work / life balance and the stress of the job has been the support of my family.  Spending time with them really helps to ground me and put things into perspective.  Certainly, I could not have done the job for 25 years without their love, support and understanding.

How has TBH changed in the past 25 years? 

TBH has undergone a lot of changes, especially since it started adopting technology. When I started, there was a lot of paper everywhere and the environment was quite traditional. In the office, people still smoked cigarettes.  That’s not a good combination by the way, but at least there were no fires!

When I joined the company, there were only about 50-60 employees mainly based in Sydney, with a few in Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The company has, of course, expanded significantly over the past few years, with TBH establishing a strong presence in the Middle East, Asia, Perth and Adelaide; – and the number of partners increasing from five to around 20 today. One feature that remains a defining characteristic of TBH’s company culture is the young energy brought by employees.

Originally, TBH’s core services were centered around planning and scheduling, along with claims and dispute resolution. Over time, the company diversified its offerings to include risk, cost, change and portfolio management and other advisory services. As an analogy, growing this way was like adding various toppings to a hot dog, starting with core services, and gradually adding more on top to enhance the company’s portfolio.

Despite these changes, TBH’s focus on being the best at what we do has always been the number one thing for us and still is today. Our goal is to be the best and enjoy a fun, collaborative work environment, and that has remained steadfast. These principles continue to be our top priority.

What role has mentoring (both being mentored, and being a mentee) played in your career?

My professional development has been influenced by many people throughout my career, especially during my early years at TBH. Their guidance was a huge help, especially when I encountered difficulties, had to make a tough decision, or needed direction on how to approach a specific task. They not only helped learn new perspectives, but also provided a sounding board for my ideas, giving me more confidence and certainty.

It is this openness and approachability that makes TBH unique: because the company is not hierarchical, a consultant or analyst can approach anyone in a more senior role to get help with any questions or concerns – and through this open sharing of knowledge and guidance, each mentee gains a new perspective.

Being a mentor brings me a great deal of satisfaction. It is incredibly fulfilling meeting someone brimming with potential and witnessing their professional growth and development. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role.

As mentors, we must be prepared to offer counsel – and sometimes that may not always be in line with the company’s immediate interests. Still, our responsibility is to guide, to pose the right questions, and to empathise by considering what we would do in their position and show that we are unequivocally in their corner.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Years ago, I met former NSW premier Nick Greiner, and I asked him this very question. He gave me an interesting response that struck a chord with me.

Greiner had been trying to initiate a lot of change in governmental policy by driving his ideas hard. But he didn’t take anyone on the journey with him – and they strongly resisted his ideas.

I made that same mistake in my younger years.  I was eager to implement changes and I pushed hard for people to go along with them without bringing them along for the ride. That only led to resistance.

Reflecting on this, I believe the key, especially in consulting businesses, lies in the ability to influence and build relationships.

It is about convincing people that you are acting in their best interest, even when they are resistant. If you can make them see the benefits of change for themselves and the business, they’re more likely to come to support what you are trying to do.

If I could advise my younger self, I would emphasise the importance of nurturing communication skills, learning how to influence and empathising. These soft skills are crucial. Today, our role as consultants is to help clients understand their problems or the reasons behind our suggested changes. It’s in these moments that our soft skills become invaluable, so they should never be overlooked.

About Director Rob Hammond

Rob Hammond is a Director at TBH, with 26 years’ experience. He is an expert in project controls and planning for large-scale, complex, or high-risk projects and leads the business’ Strategic Advisory Services.

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