Jacobs looks to the stars to expand its portfolio of projects and capabilities in Australia

11 January 2022

Jacobs is a leading global technology-forward solutions provider. It focuses on solving the world’s most critical problems for thriving cities, resilient environments, mission-critical outcomes, operational advancement, scientific discovery and cutting-edge manufacturing.

The company is focused on further growth in markets like space, decarbonisation, digital and transport infrastructure.

Australia is its third-largest market. Rich Hayers, vice president and general manager of Australia and New Zealand for Jacobs’ People & Places Solutions business, shares why Australia offers unlimited potential for Jacobs to expand its footprint:

  • Record government and corporate investment in infrastructure
  • Brisbane’s winning bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games
  • Australia’s growing role in the global space industry
  • Australia’s strong relationships in the Indo-Pacific region.

Growing global expertise in Australia

Founded in 1947 as an engineering company, Jacobs has evolved into a global solutions provider. The company provides a full spectrum of professional services including consulting, technical, scientific and project delivery for the government and private sector. It has a talent force of approximately 55,000 worldwide and generates US$14 billion in revenue annually. Australia serves as its Asia-Pacific hub, employing almost 4,000 staff across 14 offices.

‘Australia is a big part of our global success story,’ says Hayers. ‘Australia is ahead of the curve in infrastructure investment, particularly in transport. We’re working on several key rail and highway projects across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

‘As a globally integrated business, we’re able to leverage global expertise in Australia to apply some of our most innovative solutions to projects locally,’ he adds. ‘We also share our learnings and experience with other countries just starting to make similar investments. For example, our Australia teams with mass rapid transit experience are supporting projects and bids in New Zealand.’

Renewable energy is generating interest and investment

Jacobs is one of the top-ranked global environmental firms. It achieved net-zero carbon emissions for its operations and business travel in 2020. It is on track to be carbon negative by 2030. In July Jacobs unveiled its enhanced global sustainable business approach, PlanBeyondSM 2.0. It is the company’s foundation for what sustainability means to its clients and operations.  

Jacobs’ Australian projects reflect this focus on sustainability. The company is working on the Marinus Link, an undersea connection that will bring renewable energy from Tasmania into the mainland grid.

‘The growth and the leadership in Tasmania has impressed us, particularly in renewable energy,’ Hayers says. ‘Our team recently provided a review of Tasmania’s Climate Change Act. The Tasmanian Government supported all recommendations of the review, either in full or in-principle.’

In Victoria, Jacobs and Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne’s largest retail water utility, partnered on a thought leadership paper. The paper explores the relationship between the outputs of water electrolysis – hydrogen and pure oxygen – to support Australia’s hydrogen industry growth.

‘Australia has embraced renewable energy and is now embarking on combining that with new energy solutions such as hydrogen,’ says Hayers. ‘Each state and territory is nominating clean energy targets aimed at supporting decarbonisation, energy security and resiliency. While Australia has the benefit of world-class renewable resources, Asia is the potential end beneficiary to new energy solutions to help secure future energy needs.

‘The Jacobs “Indo-Pacific” business is a leader in strategic, technical, commercial and social value solutions across the region. It is helping guide industry through the complex challenges of energy transition.’

Brisbane Olympics to boost city infrastructure

Hayers says it’s exciting that Brisbane is the Olympic and Paralympic Games host city for 2032.

‘It will boost Queensland’s economy and infrastructure rollout,’ he says. ‘Hopefully, a sustainable, high-speed rail between the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast might come to fruition as a result.’

Jacobs acted as Program Manager on the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Hayers acknowledges every Olympic Games is unique. However, he believes Jacobs’ program and legacy work on previous projects are pertinent to Brisbane 2032. These projects include the:

  • London Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • World Expo 2020 Dubai
  • upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.

Sky-high ambitions for Australia’s space industry

Mike Walkington is vice president and general manager for Jacobs’ Critical Missions Solutions (CMS) business in Australia. He sees enormous opportunity in Australia’s space sector.

Jacobs is the largest services provider to NASA. It helped NASA prepare Cape Canaveral for commercial ventures, including SpaceX and Blue Origin. It also assists scientists to determine the composition of rocks from the moon.

The Australian Government has invested A$150 million in Australian businesses involved in the NASA-led Artemis program.

‘In Australia, Jacobs is working with the Australian Space Agency. We are also supporting the development of commercial space ports in Australia,’ says Walkington.

Learning from First Nation Australians

Hayers says companies must do things differently to solve the world’s most critical challenges.

‘One big trend is biomimicry,’ he says. ‘Discovering how to replicate and harness practices and processes from nature.

‘First Nation Australians have been doing that for a long time as stewards of Country. There is much that we can learn from First Nations peoples, and we can grow those ideas and progress together.’

The Jacobs CMS business has a strategic partnership with the Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium (iDiC). Adam Goodes, an Adnyamathanha man and former Australian of the Year, leads the iDiC.

In the last 12 months, Jacobs has provided over A$3.8 million of work to three iDiC businesses.

‘We’re aiming to emulate the Australian Government’s approach of providing work to Indigenous-owned businesses,’ Walkington says. ‘This approach has allowed iDiC to flow-on financial, educational, professional and social benefits to Indigenous subcontractors, their families and communities.

‘Jacobs has benefited immensely from our relationship with iDiC. It’s helped our understanding of the challenges and motivations for Indigenous-owned businesses.’

Cooperation is creating opportunities in the Indo-Pacific

Jacobs is looking to expand into the Indo-Pacific region.

‘We’ve witnessed a positive level of economic cooperation between Australia, Japan, India and the US,’ says Hayers.

‘Having Australia take a leadership position in the Indo-Pacific gives us certainty. It mitigates risk, particularly if we can link in with Australian Government or quadrilateral initiatives. There are collaborations on infrastructure development, renewables, cyber digitisation and healthcare.’

Austrade networks provide vital market intel

Austrade provided practical support to Jacobs as it scoped opportunities in the region and Australia.

‘We’ve been working with Austrade in the US and Australia,’ says Hayers. ‘They have a good understanding of US business practices and how to apply them to Australia. Austrade has a finger on the pulse on what’s happening in the market with good market intel. They’ve connected us with the right stakeholders and showed us what business support was available to us.

‘More recently, Austrade has connected us to several high-level networks. We see this as an exciting contributor to our growth aspirations in the Indo-Pacific and to bringing economic benefit to Australia.’

Find out more about investing in Australia or contact Austrade for more information.