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Stephen Smith FIIRSM
Meet Our Members
Stephen is Executive Director, SHEQ Europe, Middle East & Canada at Multiplex
“I wanted to join a professional institution that allowed me to capture the broad topic of risk and apply those risk techniques into each discipline, to help me with my own professional development. IIRSM is a good fit for me as an individual. I’m a fan of what the Institute offers”
As Executive Director of SHEQ for Europe, the Middle East and Canada at Multiplex, which shapes skylines and delivers vital infrastructure assets across the world, Stephen provides strategic and technical leadership to its EMEC and regional businesses, driving long-term value creation, business resilience and organisational excellence in sustainability, occupational health, safety, quality and worker welfare. He is an experienced environmental engineer and occupational health and safety professional who has worked in numerous market sectors in contracting, engineering and consulting. His career to date has seen him work across the globe.
Hailing from Australia, Stephen studied environmental science and masters in environmental engineering. His early career was spent as a project manager at ADE, a provider of environmental, occupational hygiene, geotechnical, drilling and laboratory services. After six years he began his career at construction giant Multiplex, first in the Middle East as a sustainability engineer, which evolved into a broader SHEQ role which included health and safety, environment, sustainability, human rights, labour rights and quality. So it’s a very wide-ranging role that covers a number of different disciplines.
Now based in London, Stephen looks after a large, diverse team across Europe, the Middle and Canada, providing what Stephen describes as “cultural nuances”. “Sometimes you have to apply yourself in different manners from region to region.” You can’t assume that a top down prescriptive approach that can be adopted in the UK would be a success in either the Middle Eastern or Canadian markets. I have to be very respectful of local conditions and legislative requirements and the ways to do business in different regions. There’s no one size fits all in this role.”
So what does a typical working day look like for Stephen? “Generally I’m involved with the delivery of the business strategies across each of the regions. Within those strategies we have certain health and safety, occupational health, environmental sustainability human rights and quality objectives. To support the achievement of that strategy you have a number of implementation programmes and improvement programmes so day to day I help the regional business leads in SHEQ in achieving those objectives and making sure that I’m abreast of any new technologies, new methods that are evolving throughout the industry to make sure that we are maintaining a competitive advantage,” he explains.
Stephen says there is “absolute widespread disruption in the construction industry at the moment” from a technological perspective, with the very serious climate change concerns that we have right now at our door step there is just so much change and trying to steady the ship where so many new things are coming out every day every week, just making sure that we don’t lose sight of that. And making sure that our teams are focusing and engaged and working on the things they need to be working on. That coupled with probably the most important component of his role – making sure that Multiplex has the best people, firing on all cylinders, who are happy and productive. “I’d say about 80% of my time is spent speaking with people,” he adds.
Stephen joined IIRSM as a Specialist Member and was recently awarded Fellowship. “I wanted to join a professional institution that allowed me to capture the broad topic of risk and apply those risk techniques into each discipline, to help me with my own professional development. IIRSM is a good fit for me as an individual. I’m a fan of what the Institute offers.”
It’s a fact that Stephen has a broad set of disciplines within his remit – but he can simply apply a set of risk management techniques to each of those different disciplines, he says. “For example, we designed a worker welfare system in the Middle East to address some human rights and labour rights issues. We adopted a very similar approach to our health and safety management system: risk analysis, developing an assessment, undertaking the assessment, identifying potential risk scores above ratings we cannot apply certain controls then applying the controls, testing the controls – the same science and concept can be applied across any discipline,” he explains.
He keeps abreast of the publications his membership offers him to keep him informed of new and emerging technologies, to better understand what’s happening in construction as well as other sectors. He also sits on IIRSM’s Emerging Risk Leaders Network. “IIRSM membership gives me the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.”
Shortlisted for three Risk Excellence awards this year, winning highly commended for International Risk Initiative of the Year, Stephen believes this recognition allowed Multiplex to showcase the good work its people do.
“Having that ability to get that recognition in a room with your peers and your clients is very important to us as a business,” he concludes.