Environmental engineering should underpin everything with Matthew Allen
About Matthew Allen
Matt lives in Perth, WA with his family. He travels a lot with his company, Subcon – a Global subsea stabilisation company where he is CEO.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Technology in Marine Engineering, a Bachelor of Engineering in Naval Architecture and an Executive Masters in Business Administration.
During his time as an engineer he has worked at BHP, Clough, Woodside Energy and Chevron. Matt’s works have included gas platforms, umbilicals and subsea pumps, marine asset stabilisation and artificial reef solutions.
@17.08: Matt’s first role as an engineer was a doozy. He worked on the tension leg platform, doing all the ballasting. He relied on skills he got from his Naval architecture background for this role.
@20.20: A highlight for Matt was working on North Rankin while at Woodside. He had a budget of nearly half a billion dollars. The sheer scale and size was something he enjoyed. “Everyone wants to be a pirate at the end of day”
But it was also the comraderie and dedication of the people he had help him deliver the project that he enjoyed
“projects are delivered by teams of people that have a vision and have a passion for making it go really well”
Hot Topic discussion
@24min: Matt is concerned about sea level rise and the effects of climate change
“if you can give engineers a problem and a bucket full of cash, they’ll come up with an answer for it”
Matt touches on a solution very early into his discussion of this hot topic
“environmental engineering should be a part of what every engineer does regardless of your discipline”
Dom very much supports this solution and even mentions what he says to his own engineers
“ESD shouldn’t be a separate component of design, it should just be a fundamental part of every design”
When engineers and customers are able to deliver solution which improve the environment, there is a great sense of satisfaction for all involved.
But it can be difficult to get the customer’s onboard such environmentally beneficial solutions. Such an example was with a project his company – Subcon – delivered last year. An artificial reed in Exmouth Gulf, WA.
“because it’s new, it gets met with a lot of trepidation”
Recreational fishing market is an $8 billion market and has had a massive impact on the sea life. An argument that Subcon are trying to influence society with is
“sustainable fishing should be the, the lowest benchmark that we’re trying to attain. And actually, we should be aiming for abundant fishing resources”
@32min: Solutions are discussed
“the only way you’re ever going to change it is to ask the question”
Matt discusses his experiences with Exmouth artificial reef
“we innovate freely, but we deliver rigorously”
You need to be absolutely confident. Come up with the solution, get it thoroughly tested and present it with authority to the market. You will get a different response than just being a Cowboy.
And it’s not just the customer that needs to accept the solution, the entire community needs to be taken on the journey “the other really interesting part of …. the Exmouth project is the cultural change that we bought about because we had to take the whole community on a journey towards acceptability of this method of repurposing structures”. This requires patience, it’s very much a time thing.
Anytime something goes into the environment – be it a mine or an oil rig, there’s always an opportunity to put ESD into the equation. “there’s certainly a growing body of knowledge around how to fit things into the environment better, it starts with an engineer researching it”
During this podcast, you will also reflect on:
@13.51: The importance of identifying your strengths and weaknesses and using them to progress your career
“I managed to surround myself with really, really smart engineers that can do the analysis and things like that. And I’ve been kind of the practical glue in the middle that helps deliver”
@18.30: The joys of watching movies with engineers! Naturally, Deep Water Horizon comes up in conversation. Matt has a bit of experience working on such vessels.
It is so important – for yourself, your reputation and for society, to ensure engineering solutions are fully tested out prior to being sold to a customer.
@39.41: The future of engineering won’t be drastically different for engineers “I think it’s the same as it’s always been, which is solve problems for people”
“I think engineers are put on the earth to make life better”
How important it is to learn from the past. Lessons learned in project reviews are great, but Matt highly rates “we used to have a mantra that we’d say… drink beer with old guys and learn from their mistakes”
An engineering item for discussion… Forth Bridge in Scotland“just an amazing piece of engineering that was delivered“…. “the guys conceived that with lead pencils and slide rules”
Forth Bridge, image thanks to Jonny McKenna from Unsplash
An engineer to admire…Sue Murphy. She continuedall the very important work of great engineers of the past like CY O’Connor. “for me she embodies the engineer that becomes a senior executive and a leader”. “she should be very proud of … the legacy she’s left for Western Australia”
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