Tag Archives: Derek Mowlds

Embrace change but remember, ‘an quán dì yi’

Derek Mowlds, MSc, the Managing Director, PM Group Asia.

Reflecting on the industry since commencing employment as a designer approximately 23 year ago, the biggest change I have encountered is the rapid advances in technology and ICT. The fundamentals of building services design have not changed. However, how we work and communicate has completely transformed in the last two decades

I have seen and been part of this transformation from my humble beginnings in a design office in Mountjoy Square in Dublin (pre- AutoCad!), to VMRA in Dartry Road, then PM Group and onto PM Group’s Shanghai office in China. I am now the Managing Director of our businesses in Asia, and I felt that the best thing I could do for this piece is to share my thoughts on some of the key focus areas to successfully compete in, and deliver, projects in today’s exciting but sometimes unpredictable environment

These are in no particular order, as they may be applicable to various stages of business development and the project execution lifecycle, or to various stages of your own career.

Remain agile and flexible                                                                                             Building services engineers and the supply chain should remain agile and flexible in a very dynamic and changing environment. This may simply mean remaining open to different contracting models such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) or working with contractors on design and build projects; it may even mean an openness to travel for international experience, or work on projects with teams from multiple locations, or in a different sector.

Systems thinking                                                                                                                                                        Engineers are best placed to apply a “systems approach” to both engineering design and overall project delivery. Any project can be broken down into a distinct number of systems, many of which will be common from building to building, despite the sector. Focussing on the critical/key systems early can help drive decisions and improve project delivery and efficiency.

The systems approach can also be used to identify key interfaces with other design disciplines and encourage early dialogue and design coordination. Outside of engineering, there is an interesting resource that frequently refer to called the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK – www.seebok-info.org) which provides key knowledge resources and references of systems engineering, organised and explained to assist a wide variety of users.

Lessons learned                                                                                                                                                             Always strive to capture and transfer lessons from one project to the next. Also refer to lessons captured from other projects in your organisation. Do this early in the project, before you encounter a repeat issue that could have been easily avoided. Without a robust “lessons learned” system in your organisation, valuable knowledge will be lost across projects as the design team will change, and people move on, but the key issues and challenges remain!

Be open-minded                                                                                                                                                        Always remain open to new technologies and innovations, and encourage innovation from all members of your team. Embrace the right technologies and approaches for your business and projects early, including BIM, LEAN, Construction Management IS (Information Systems) etc. However, remember that technology is an enabler, not the answer.

Continuous Professional Development                                                                                                          Stay in touch with your relevant engineering institutions, attend conferences and CPD events. Also, there is a huge volume of on-line CPD available. This raises another issue … for many the challenge now is managing your time as we are now “data rich and time poor”, according to a famous quote from Dr Kevin Kelly. It is also of huge importance to mentor and train the next wave of graduates in our industry. As you progress through your career, share your knowledge and experience to build the competencies of those around you.

Culture and communication                                                                                                                               Our clients, teams and colleagues now consist of a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. This can actually improve team performance and efficiency based on the differing perspectives of individual team members. However, this requires leadership and mutual respect. Building services engineers also need to integrate into multidisciplinary design teams (often from multiple companies) to deliver projects requiring a huge dependency on soft skills in addition to technical acumen. There is a huge body of knowledge on culture and communications, plus regular seminars and workshops, that might be worth attending if you feel that improvement is needed in this area.

Safety first                                                                                                                                                                   Last, but by no means least, remember to keep safety at the heart of everything that you do. Think of safety in design and safety during construction. Then deliver safe assets and systems for those who will operate them into the future. In China we say “an quán dì yl” … safety first. Stay positive and watch out for signs of stress. I say this to both employers and employees, particularly on demanding projects. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Mowlds Heading to China

Derek Mowlds is off to China shortly to take up the post of Shanghai Office Projects Manager, PM Group. Derek will join the Group’s senior management in China to lead the office projects team.

Working closely with clients in China, PM Group teams provide the full portfolio of engineering design, architecture, project and construction management and qualification services to successfully deliver complex projects. From its office in Shanghai, the multi-discipline team brings PM Group’s international expertise to clients all over China.

Best of luck Derek, and enjoy.

Sean Dowd elected Chairman CIBSE Ireland

Derek Mowlds, outgoing chair, congratulating Sean Dowd, the newly-elected CIBSE Ireland Chairman.

I am delighted and honoured to assume the chair of CIBSE Ireland and will endeavour to maintain the high standards set by the previous chairs of the committees. I have thoroughly enjoyed the past number of years working with the committee in a number of areas including the conference, annual lunch, CPD events and the student awards. I have also witnessed first hand the dedication and commitment of committee members to the Institution and its activities.

I thank both Tony McKinley for inviting me onto the committee in the first place, and Derek Mowlds for inviting me to be the vice chair for the last two years. May I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Derek for chairing the committee, and for delivering an excellent programme of CIBSE events and activities during his tenure. Derek’s experience and knowledge gained from his past experience on the CIBSE committee made for an easy transition to chairman and the responsibility that comes with this position.

I will continue to rely on the advice and guidance of Derek and other past chairs as I feel that each year we should continue to build on the successes of previous years. I look forward to working with the committee going forward and thank those who have agreed to continue with their roles and activities, and others who have assumed new roles. I completely understand that it is becoming increasingly difficult for us all to devote this time to the Institution, but feel that there is a corresponding benefit to the companies and organisations that support our involvement, as well as the wider engineering community.

I will start work immediately on the programme of events and activities for the year ahead and will be in touch with the committee over the next few weeks to finalise our plans. I would also like to welcome new committee members, Patrick Field and Andrew Campbell, and look forward to their involvement and participation over the coming year – the committee needs to continually develop and new members are always welcome.

So, In terms of the year ahead, and some of the challenges that we face as a sector,  I am determined to continue to raise the profile of building services engineering within industry, including the Public Sector and with other institutions and organisations, such as the RIAI, Engineers Ireland and Irish Green Building Council to name but a few. I also thank Pat Lehane for his continuous efforts in creating and maintaining some of these key links.

We will also collaborate on CPD events with other organisations in the built environment to promote an integrated approach to design and energy efficiency. Building services engineers are central to the delivery of low energy, low carbon and efficient buildings (including refurbishments) while maintaining occupant comfort and indoor air quality. It is essential, therefore, that we are appointed and integrated into project teams from the outset to maximise the benefits of early engineering input to the design process.

CIBSE will continue to monitor, and contribute to, developments in regulations and policy relating to carbon reduction, energy, engineering and the built environment, and keep our members up to speed with the very latest information, so we can, in turn, advise our clients and colleagues. We will achieve this by maintaining our strong links with the Department of the Environment, ETCI, the SEAI, the Department of Communictions, Energy and Natural Resources, and the OPW.

Looking ahead, these are but some brief highlights of what we have planned for the coming 12 months. Comprehensive details of the full schedule will be published shortly.

CPD programme — The committee and I are currently working on the programme of CPD events and look forward to including exciting new topics and technologies. To that end I extend an invitation to all involved in the industry to make suggestions. We also intend to continue with, and extend, live webcast links so that more people can participate from around the country, and even abroad.

Technical symposium — The CIBSE technical symposium will be held in Croke Park on 3/4 April 2014. The event will be organised in conjunction with CIBSE in the UK. This event will provide a platform for industry, academics and researchers to present peer-reviewed papers on areas covering current research and development with opportunities to share experiences and foster and develop contacts.

CIBSE Awards — The DIT Bolton St Student awards, the Young Lighter Awards and the Sustainable Design and Research (SDAR) Awards, will all take place in DIT Bolton St and Kevin St next year. All these awards are an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the great work and projects delivered by the students, young engineers and senior engineers in our sector, all supported and encouraged by the DIT and CIBSE. My thanks to the committee members who manage and oversee these projects, and also the many sponsors whose contribution is equally invaluable.

Networking and site visits — A number of other lectures, seminars and networking opportunities will take place, including a masterclass presentation at The Energy Show 2014. In addition, various site visits will be arranged in conjunction the Irish Green Building Council and some of the other building industry trade and professional bodies.

Social events — On a lighter note, both the CIBSE Golf Outing and the Annual Lunch will also go ahead, in addition to the young engineers’ BBQ evening.

So, to conclude, I am committed to working with the committee in serving the Institution and its members to the very best of my ability over the coming year. I would welcome any suggestions that you may have in relation to the work of the CIBSE committee, and any particular areas that you think we should concentrate more of our efforts on. 


CIBSE past-chairs dinner

The CIBSE Ireland past-chairman’s dinner was recently held in Dublin with 16 past chairs attending. Current Chairman Sean Dowd hosted the gathering which gave members of long-standing service to CIBSE Ireland a great opportunity to catch up and enjoy a very sociable night.

Apart from it being a unique gathering of so many ex chairs, the occasion was all the more special as Sean Mulcahy was presented with a Lifetime Service award after the meal.