Carolyn Viney was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Grocon in February, 2014, having been Deputy CEO to Daniel Grollo, Executive Chairman and sole owner of the business, for the two years prior. Carolyn has held a variety of roles within Grocon since joining in 2003, and here she talks to us about her involvement in Grocon’s success and the organisation’s transformative influence on the landscape of our cities.
1. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?Undoubtedly it has been Daniel Grollo. Whilst he has been my boss for a long time – even now when I am the CEO, he remains the owner of Grocon and Executive Chairman so is active within the business. He has a fantastic ability to inspire a team to ‘go for it’, including motivating people individually or collectively to do more than they might otherwise have thought themselves capable of.
And when you see the rewards of that – whether it be securing a new project that was first thought beyond the realms of possibility or stretching from 5 stars to 6 stars without any additional budget allocation or pulling a project across the line against a tight deadline – it is an amazing thing to be part of. That is, going after the hard stuff that is inherently more challenging is always going to feel that bit more special.
And I guess my current role at Grocon is but one outcome of that part of his style. I would never have put myself forward for the role or a variety of things I have done since I have been at Grocon.
2.What is your proudest project achievement to date and how has it transformed the world around us?
I can’t say I have done anything that has transformed the world. However, there are things I am proud of. One of those is a building we are developing in Melbourne called Swanston Square. Its façade presents the face of William Barak, a significant indigenous leader.
We partnered with ARM on the project and whilst we really liked the idea of a significant symbol to celebrate indigenous Australia there were lots of people in the industry and in the market who thought it too controversial and too risky to be able to realize the project and build it.
It would have been easy in the face of all that advice to just park it. But we didn’t. We knowingly took a risk – a risk we thought worth taking. The building is due for completion early 2015 and the face will be unveiled at that time.
Right throughout its history Grocon has delivered some really amazing buildings and this one will join that club. The fact that we could do it is, I think, a testament to our being privately held and the ability and willingness to take the risk.
3.How do you encourage creative thinking in your organisation?
We see ourselves as an organization that comes up with solutions for clients. The buildings we develop and build are simply the vehicle by which we deliver those solutions. There is a strong culture of “can do” at Grocon which is incredibly powerful in encouraging creative solutions in a highly competitive market. It is one of those things that has been there for a long time and no matter what we do moving forward I don’t want us to lose that.
4.What is the overarching common goal driving your organisation?
Creating enduring outcomes through collaborating with others – clients, project partners and the community. Our work will outlast us all, therefore we develop places of significance – excellence in design, superior sustainability and functionally brilliant – which complement and enhance the generation of our thriving cities. And we do not mind being a bit different. Our rich heritage and distinct culture sets us apart. We base everything on strong values and a determination to reach beyond the obvious.
5.What are your thoughts on technology in your industry – is it an enabler or an inhibitor?
Technology has changed the way we communicate with our clients and within the business. Our expectation of what is possible is fundamentally altered as a consequence. It gives access to much greater choice. It stands to make what we do much more efficient in the delivery phase. It is a much more accurate and up to date record of what has occurred to date. It is an enabler.
6.In three words describe your vision for the future of the built environment.
Sustainable. Efficient. Inspirational.