Looking to expand in India, US-based infrastructure design and consultancy giant AECOM plans to hire 1,500 new employees...
Looking to expand in India, US-based infrastructure design and consultancy giant AECOM plans to hire 1,500 new employees here as it prepares to participate in initiatives like Smart Cities and Make in India, including for the ports and defence sectors.
The USD 20-billion group, which currently has 2,500 employees in India, is also looking to tap opportunities in Clean Ganga and Clean India initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, its global CEO Michael S Burke said today.
“It is the right time to be in India when administration is taking all right steps to grow the economy,” said Burke, who is here to tap new business opportunities and meet top government officials with regard to its interest in various government and P-3 (Public-Private Partnership) programmes for infrastructure and other sectors.
Burke said that AECOM is already involved in some capacity with all of the ten biggest infrastructure projects in India and the country presents much more growth opportunities for the group and its share could grow further going forward in the overall global business of the group.
AECOM, which has eminent banker Deepak Parekh on its global advisory board, is providing consultancy services for various mega projects in India with total construction cost of over USD 22.5 billion.
“Business is growing quite significantly in India. We currently plan to hire 1,500 new employees including architects and engineers and our efforts would be very much linked to the Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative,” Burke said.
He said AECOM can participate in this programme in a big way, given its experience of having worked with all top manufacturing companies of the world.
When asked what was the impression the foreign companies have about the new government and whether they had any concerns about factors like ease of doing business, Burke said that the new government is very actively reaching out to the global community and that was sending right signals.
“The government is reaching out to the global investors and we can help on that,” he said during a media interaction.
Among others, it is currently executing major projects across sectors like urban development, highways, transportation, environment, master planning and energy-efficient building engineering.
Globally, it has nearly 100,000 employees and is ranked as the world’s biggest engineering design firm by revenue. It has been involved in providing its services for mega projects like Ground Zero reconstruction in New York, Rio Olympics in Brazil, Tokyo Olympics in Japan as well as for the London Olympics.
In the Middle East, the company managed development of the Saadiyat Island cultural district in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. In Asia, the company has successfully designed, engineered and supervised the construction of eight out of 11 new towns in Hong Kong.
Burke said that some of the major projects in India where AECOM is involved include Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), India’s most ambitious Infrastructure programme, management and control of development of Dholera new township project in Gujarat and development of naval base ‘Seabird’ in Karwar. AECOM expects to complete its Dholera project by December 2018.
Besides, AECOM has contracts for providing consultancy services for metro rail projects in six cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Jaipur.
One of the largest International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Asia to be constructed in Delhi was conceptualised and detailed by AECOM, while it is also providing master planning and landscaping services to Punjab government for detailing Master Plan for New Chandigarh. It has completed a Detailed Project Report for two of the largest Sea Water based Reverse Osmosis Desalination Plants in India.
AECOM sees huge opportunities in the area of skill development and Make in India initiatives of the Modi government, Burke said.
He further said that the company would initially focus on design and advisory parts for all the projects in India, although it can progress further to other areas like building, financing and operating the projects at a later stage.
“As of now, the scale is huge on the design and advisory front alone and we want to work on that,” he added.
When asked whether issues like land acquisition problems and other factors were creating problems in India, Burke replied in negative and said that some or other problems were there in all parts of the world and the investors take that into account when taking business decisions.
“The sense I get from talking to CEOs of our Fortune 500 clients is that it is a new-age India and the Prime Minister is reaching out to the global community. The global investors need better certainty on regulatory environment and they hope that the same will be given to them by the new administration.”
On whether there have been some positive changes since the new government came to power last year, Burke said there have been many developments including on opening of FDI in sectors like Defence and those were “significant positive moves”.
“A lot of little and simple things have been happening and all those put together can make things much better,” he added.
Observing that “India is moving in the right”, Burke said AECOM business is growing rapidly in India and the group has big aspirations from this market.
“I cannot give you specific numbers, but I can say that we have 5,000 employees in a small country like Hong Kong and that shows the opportunity that India can eventually present.
“On revenue also, I cannot give you a dollar figure, but the growth opportunities are huge in India. We clearly see an increasing trend. We are already seeing higher growth rates in emerging markets like India in comparison to the developed markets and India’s share in our overall global business is certainly going to increase,” he said.