An interview with Mark Kaney of Black & Veatch
At Asset Wisdom, we’re proud to be hosting discussions with asset management industry thought leaders who share our vision: to make asset management delivery successful globally. The next ‘in conversation’ in this series follows our Director of Commercial & Product Development, and Co-Founder, Chris Bradley in discussion with Mark Kaney, Director of Asset Management, Europe at Black & Veatch: an employee-owned, global leader building critical infrastructure in energy, water, telecommunications and government services. Listen to the interview here.
Civil-engineer by profession, Mark’s spent 25 years’ working in asset management in the utilities sector, delivering major infrastructure projects across Europe and Asia with specific focus on the water industry.
Successful asset management, and how it aids all organisations worldwide to refocus their offering due to COVID-19’s social distancing measures and meet the global threats of climate change and cyber security, directed Mark and Chris’ conversation. Whilst Mark focussed on the water industry, many of his comments are relevant and applicable across all industries.
Realigning focus and agile operations
Mark spoke of how COVID-19 has forced all organisations, irrespective of industry or position, to refocus. Offerings have had to be realigned and core services adapted so they can be delivered at a distance, so it is crucial that we adjust perspectives to make sure we continue to service our sectors and clients in an appropriate way – with safety front of mind.
Adapting and working together is essential. Mark explored one key area to achieve this was through an asset management focussed approach to risk management. He explained the need to respond more quickly, and be open to change, with proactive planning for unexpected cases. As asset owners, Mark continued, we will all need a more agile approach to the way we operate.
Mark stressed that the pressure placed on our assets has increased, as we are requiring them to achieve a higher level of performance and increased reliability (in his sector, water running hotter, and for longer, was needed). Failing to understand these issues, mitigate them and put processes in place to meet challenges will increase the risk of problems and costs. We need to move from a reactive to a proactive intervention approach.
Increased uncertainty and rapid transformation
Digital navigation of emerging issues was also a topic of concern for Mark. He explained the increased reliability on artificial intelligence and how companies are moving to more data-driven decisions. Good and secure data models are, therefore, essential.
COVID-19 has forced businesses to expediate their consideration of their digital asset approach. As we move forward, Mark explained how digitisation of sectors will become more prevalent and change the ways we work. For asset owners, this will drive some difficult decisions in a backdrop of increasing uncertainty. He stressed that assessing risk and opportunities will help companies make the right choices about their assets.
Strong communication and digitisation support
Organisational changes are key, and, for Mark, are all about ‘making the smart choice’ and balancing risk. Successful asset management helps us to do this and do so rapidly. Different ways of working have been explored, and Mark and his team have now had time to reflect on the new ways of working that have, and haven’t, been successful.
COVID-safe delivery is the priority for Black & Veatch and has taken focus at every level of their processes and operations for staff and clients alike. Using technology successfully is also important, particularly with the company’s position as technology-based business. This includes a strong focus on upskilling existing staff to support them with digitalisation essential for new, safe working practices. Mark emphasised that strong leadership and communication are vital for a positive culture, led by change management, that supports staff wellbeing, knowledge and ability, and quickly. To do this, Mark stresses, we must work together.
The next steps we take to meet the global challenges and uncertainties of climate change, cyber security, addressing the skills gap and looming economic recession will demand a collaborative ethos and engagement led by strong asset management. We adapt and work together to survive and prosper.
At these particularly challenging times, successful asset management makes crisis management easier with system-based approaches to meeting challenges. To discover more about this ethos shared with other leading figures in the asset management industry, listen to our conversations with Pete Sellars, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estate Management (IHEEM), and Andy Watts, MD of Institute of Asset Management.