Kerryn Coker and Kate West have been appointed as new co-chairs for Arup in Australasia, and Murray Kretschmer as chief operating officer, with effect from 1 April 2021. They will lead more than 2,500 people across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, with plans to enhance the firm’s focus on sustainable development including climate services.
Ms Coker and Ms West will succeed Peter Chamley who is retiring after a distinguished career in global senior management and as the leader of highly complex infrastructure projects. Mr Kretschmer takes over from Bruce Tanner who will move to a new executive role after seven years as COO.
Committed to leading with social purpose and driving positive change in the industry and with clients, Ms Coker and Ms West said their ambition is to help shape and create more resilient, liveable places with an end-to-end approach to sustainable development.
“Our ambition is to create a sustainable future for our clients and community through collaboration, innovation and excellence,” said Ms Coker.
"Every country in the region is facing significant, complex challenges. We want to engage more deeply with our growing number of like-minded clients and partners as advisers and creators of great design which can reduce carbon, offer clean energy solutions, minimise waste, create resilience to shocks and stresses and provide lasting social value,” said Ms Coker and Ms West.
“We believe this is the time to extend and further integrate our skill sets and cross-disciplinary approach, undertake more specific research, and robustly frame our project ambitions and outcomes with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
They further highlighted that, “those of us working in the built environment must offer our communities more – by thinking more creatively and advising more bravely and responsibly. The building and construction industry is one of the most significant contributors to carbon – almost 40% of carbon emissions globally – and therefore must play a central role in reducing emissions and delivering assets which are resilient and adaptable. The time for action is now.”
“This is a time of great change and increasing complexity. Collaboration is at the heart of our approach, and we want to work even more closely with our clients and the community to face down the challenges and embrace the opportunities,” said Ms West.
“In order to create greater impact and opportunities for positive change, Arup has been broadening its agenda and diversifying its workforce: we are increasing our skills in areas like artificial intelligence and climate services so we can help our clients deliver on the future agenda,” said Mr Kretschmer.
“We are no longer ‘a firm of engineers’. We are a consulting firm of specialists covering more than 90 disciplines. We are economists, digital technicians, climate, sustainability, energy and water specialists, technical advisers, asset managers, urban planners and architects as well as engineers; we are larger and more diverse, and our strength is being able to work as one innovative integrated Arup.”
Ms Coker, Ms West and Mr Kretschmer are members of the Australasia region board, senior engineers and experienced project directors who have worked internationally.
Ms Coker is leading the implementation of Arup’s Sustainable Development Strategy in Australasia and is a member of the Global Sustainable Development Executive. With a background in facade engineering, she has successfully delivered complex projects and led multidisciplinary teams in the UK and Sydney. Most recently the leader of the NSW Buildings Group, she is an advocate for diverse teams and received the Consult Australia Champions of Change Female Leadership Award in 2019.
Ms West has led the successful consulting group in Western Australia for four years, following a career with Arup based in Melbourne, the UK, Ireland and most recently Perth. A structural engineer with a Master’s in Architecture, Ms West is a passionate STEM advocate. In 2017 she received the Crystal Vision Award from the National Association for Women in Construction and in 2018 she was awarded the 40U40 Business Leaders Award in WA from Business News.
Mr Kretschmer is the Australasia infrastructure leader, respected for his industry knowledge, business expertise and ethos of inclusive and accountable leadership. A civil engineer, he has delivered innovative solutions with a focus on sustainability and renewable energy within complex infrastructure projects across the region and in China, the UK and Ireland.
“Together, we become a senior leadership group of complementary skills, experience and styles, united by common vision and values,” they said. “We see this as a contemporary leadership approach – more about meaningful collaboration and diversity of thinking than hierarchy.
“It will provide greater senior leadership bandwidth to connect and collaborate with our people, clients, industry and communities, other stakeholders and like-minded professionals at a deeper level than ever before.”