CEDA member profile: Advisian



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Steve Porter, Managing Director Asia Pacific, Advisian

Can you tell us a bit about Advisian?

Advisian is a relatively young brand, formed in 2014 as the independent consulting arm of the WorleyParsons Group. We advise clients in the development and operation of their assets across the energy, resources and infrastructure sectors and have about 2500 consultants located in 19 countries.

We created Advisian by consolidating some of our heritage businesses, including Evans & Peck, INTECSEA, MTG, EcoNomics™ and WorleyParsons Consulting, to address a number of issues we saw our clients facing. They were witnessing a dramatically changing global landscape, where unstoppable trends and market shifts were presenting them with new challenges, but also incredible opportunities. We formed Advisian to help them navigate this new world.

One of the things that makes Advisian unique in this space is our combination of strategic, management, and technical consulting capabilities, which allows us to provide holistic solutions to a wide-range of challenges at every stage of the asset lifecycle. Our consultants have deep domain knowledge backed up by real-world experience, and through this we’re able to deliver not only great strategic decisions for our clients, but they can have confidence knowing that our ideas will work and are implementable.

What are Advisian's priorities for the coming year?

We’re seeing some tremendous opportunities in rapidly developing areas such as the new energy revolution and intelligent transport systems. We are building our capability to help our clients navigate the transition needed in their businesses to take advantage of these paradigm shifts in our industries. Also, as a new company, we will continue to develop our brand in the market place through a very strong thought leadership agenda, as we have done over the last year or so.

How have you seen the sectors Advisian services change over the last few years?

We’ve seen a lot of changes over the past few years and it seems the pace of that change has been accelerating. In the last five years we have seen the end of the resources boom and the oil price adjustment. However, in the same period we have seen real growth in the new energy and transport infrastructure sectors. There has been an increasing demand for more sustainable energy sources and networks, as well as large infrastructure projects that are focused around the mobility of people. 

In the last 12 months we’ve seen an improvement in key commodity prices including those with a significant impact for Australia such as iron ore, coal and oil. Following on from a period of significant adjustment in the supply and cost side of the equation we have seen improving interest in investment from our clients in these sectors over the last year.

On top of these traditional sectors for Australia and the region, we are seeing rapid change in technology-led transformation. It feels to me that we are fast approaching tipping points for what now will be the new order in areas such as energy, transportation systems, digital enterprise and – perhaps one less known but rapidly approaching in the world – synthetic biology.

Have you noticed any current industry trends?

We are seeing may interesting trends and opportunities for investment in the Australian economy. Agribusiness is one of particular interest to us and we see there are a host of lessons we can learn from the mining boom that could be applied to our agricultural sector, from the crop through to market. This investment doesn’t need to necessarily be “buying the family farm” but instead could be focused more into supply chains and the optimisation of networks.

New energy is also an area that is growing rapidly and seeing a lot more investment. Traditional power generation is being challenged by new technologies that tick a lot of boxes for investors. I think we’ll see a lot more investment in renewable energy projects, including novel solutions, as well as distributed and energy sharing networks.

What do you think the future holds for these sectors?

A sector in which we are intimately involved and that is undergoing massive disruption is the energy sector. Increasing electrification of our world, decreasing cost of solar PV and unprecedented investment from industry in battery efficiency are among some of the drivers changing the economics of power generation and distribution. This shift in economics has created a period of uncertainty in that there will remain a significant need for traditional energy generation to support capacity and variability of supply during the next period of energy transition. However, there has possibly never been less clarity among the investment community on whether to invest in traditional generation.

So in the near term, we see continued volatility in the markets and increasing calls for regulatory intervention. Over time the markets will mature with the mobility of LNG around the world playing a major part in the transition to increasing renewable energy generation. At a consumer level the rise of the “prosumer” and integrated home, car and control systems will become the norm. There will inevitably be significant change in the nature of business for the current energy distributors and retailers.

This transition will significantly challenge our governments, from whom we need sound and rational policies and regulatory frameworks based on the technological, social and economic needs of our country.

What is your role with the company and when did you start there?

I started with Advisian, then Evans & Peck, in 2011 in our Hong Kong Branch. Shortly after I became Managing Principal in Hong Kong, after working on a number of projects in the property, water and transport sectors. In 2014 I was offered the opportunity to lead the newly formed Advisian as the Regional Managing Director for the Asia Pacific region, based in Sydney.

What have been key accomplishments you’ve had at Advisian since starting?

I’m proud of playing an instrumental role in successfully bringing Advisian together. We worked hard to develop a unifying culture that we could all get behind, and harness the incredible talents of our combined team. Seeing the work our people are doing and how they are working so cohesively together, is a great accomplishment, not just for me, but for all involved.

Our main priority is always our clients. What they need, now and into the future, and how we can help. We’re also focused on creating a sustainable business that will be the world leader in asset advisory in our sectors. That vision keeps me excited every day.

Can you take us through any highlights in your career?

The first half of my career was hugely satisfying, working on some of the biggest infrastructure projects across Australia, including the Melbourne City Link, Cross City Tunnel and M5East Motorway in Sydney. In the latter years I have worked on social infrastructure projects like schools, and the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong. Now my focus is on creating and growing Advisian as part of the Global Advisian Leadership Team. Under the leadership of our CEO Dennis Finn, we’re creating something new and exciting in the industry, which I am sure will be a career highlight for me and our people.

How does CEDA help the company understand and meet the challenges and opportunities you or your clients face?

CEDA consistently has its finger on the pulse – and the industry insights provided at CEDA events are always topical and informative. CEDA’s work advancing public policy and its well-researched programs really help to frame some of our clients’ issues so that we can better serve them. We value the way CEDA brings teams together to consider and discuss important issues relevant to the economic development of Australia. Economic prosperity isn’t a given, but it is achievable when there’s healthy debate and alignment of political, business and community interests.

We see great benefits from our relationship with CEDA. The organisation enables us to access key industry stakeholders to exchange ideas and knowledge, and have some great conversations with like-minded peers. Through this we challenge our own ideas and see new perspectives on others. This ensures our teams are kept at the forefront of the latest thinking from across a variety of industries, which in turn, allows us to provide the best advice possible for our clients.