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Q&A: Talking with James Bradford, Technical Director Digital Delivery – Asia

James talks about his career, passion for using technology to solve real-world problems, love for the outdoors and life and work in the Philippines.

At Jacobs, we’re driven by curiosity. We ask tough questions about the world’s biggest problems, dare to challenge the status quo, and discover bold, new possibilities to make our world smarter, more connected, and more sustainable. Our Jacobs team in the Philippines, the island country of Southeast Asia, takes great pride in thinking differently, innovating bravely, and redefining what’s possible to bring meaningful changes and lasting value to people and places.

For this feature we connected with James Bradford, Technical Director Digital Delivery – Asia, one of the visionaries in our incredible Philippines team. He talks to us about his career, passion for using technology to solve real-world problems, love for the outdoors and life and work in the Philippines.

Tell us about your career background and role at Jacobs.

I’ve studied Computer-Aided Design (CAD), engineering, Building Information Modeling (BIM) management & implementation and am a Building Research Establishment (BRE) Certified Level 2 BIM Practitioner. My experience of over 20 years spans BIM, digital engineering, technical drawing, modeling, design and engineering.

My first role was at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital in Australia – my home country – in the onsite CAD team. Following a few years of working for large Australian consultants, I decided it was time to see the world. Since then, I’ve lived and worked for over two decades in Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America as well as Australia.

I joined Jacobs in October 2006 as a senior CAD engineer/BIM manager for our rail team in the U.K. Today, as the Technical Director Digital Delivery – Asia, based in the Philippines, my role takes a regional focus, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong and India. In Asia, I’ve had the opportunity to support several projects looking to have a strong positive impact on the community, such as the Deep Tunnel Sewer System Phase 1 & Phase 2 – Tuas Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore as well as numerous data center projects.   

It’s exciting to be part of our Jacobs digital journey and I’m very much looking forward to the future.

What sparked your interest in a STEAM career?

Animation, 3D movies and video games. I’ve been enthusiastic about design and architecture from a young age, so I studied architectural technology, information technology and then BIM, bringing together design and technology – my long-time passion.  

What are you most passionate about and what’s the favorite part of your role?

New and emerging technology – I’m blessed to be working at the cutting edge of what’s possible. The favorite part of my role is the application of technology in the field, working on real-world scenarios. 

In your role, how are you challenging today and reinventing tomorrow?

Appling automation and computational design techniques to provide better engineering outcomes for society.

Tell us about your first project at Jacobs and its impact to the community.

My first project at Jacobs was in the U.K., working on a program to help modernize London Underground advertising. The upgrade supported greater digital/video media content and enhanced the traveling experience on the London Underground rail network.

After moving to the Philippines, the first project I worked on was the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Facility, Los Banos Laguna. It was the expansion of an existing rice research facility in South Luzon which consisted of new glass houses, plant growth chamber area, plant processing laboratory, soil preparation laboratory and general facilities. The project was funded by AusAID and is helping to save lives, alleviate suffering and improve living conditions through agricultural research and training farmers.

James and team
The senior Philippine Digital Delivery team attending the Asia Pacific Rail Innovation Forum, 2019, where James was a guest speaker.

Rail has been the backbone of our economy and society. Tell us about some of the interesting rail projects that you’ve had the chance to work on.

At Jacobs, I’ve worked on a range of rail projects. For instance, in the U.K., I supported London Underground, London Overground and National Rail upgrade, replacement and maintenance projects, and Crossrail in London.In Malaysia, the MyHSR and Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit projects, and experience in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Recently, I’ve been working on the Bayswater Station and Turnback and the new Morley to Ellenbrook rail line in Perth, Australia.

What are some of the challenges we’re looking to solve in the Philippines?

Improved infrastructure and services for the residents of the Philippines, helping provide a socially responsible and sustainable future, enabled by technology.

Tell us about a memorable project you’ve been involved in and why it’s special to you.

There are too many to mention but if I had to choose one, I would have to say, a large-scale shipyard which is under development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its pure scale. We worked as the design consultant for the principal contractor on the design and build of this multi-billion-dollar port and maritime facility.

Our services spanned maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of commercial vessels, offshore support vessels, MRO and new build, shipbuilding of commercial vessels, new build, offshore platforms, offshore rigs, new build, offices for corporate and other centralized functions, residential facilities and government facilities.

To help establish and lead the Project BIM team, I was deployed to the UAE for 12 months. It was truly an inclusive project, leveraging Jacobs expert staff globally and collaborating to deliver this mega maritime complex.   

james adb
James presenting at the Asia Pacific Rail Innovations Forum, 2019, on his experience implementing new digital technology in the construction industry and delivering projects within the Asia Pacific region.

Your proudest moment at Jacobs…

In 2015, I’d accepted the position of CAD/BIM Section Manager in Manila, Philippines. It was a big step to leave the U.K., where I was previously based, and travel to Asia. I was warmly welcomed, quite literally, with open arms in the Filipino way. Here, I set about helping to build up the CAD BIM team. We had a team of 12 to start with and ended up expanding to 75+ modelers and drafters. A year later, I was promoted to the Technical Director Digital Delivery - Asia. Today, seeing what the Philippines BIM/CAD team has grown to become makes me proud. Having helped establish and grow the business has been truly wonderful to witness.

People would be surprised to know that …

I’m qualified to teach English as a second language. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certified!

When you’re not at work, you enjoy…

Spending time with my friends in the great outdoors. The Philippines has over 7,600 islands to explore, and there are so many wonderful places to visit. The diversity of culture here is amazing. Would you believe there are around 42,000 major and minor festivals each year? I also like to keep fit by playing sports, exercising and doing adventure activities. I also never forget to video call with my Dad back in Australia. 

James mental health
James has been a Jacobs mental health awareness advocate since 2016.  Here, he's speaking to the Philippines Team at a Townhall for Mental Health Week.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?

Being around likeminded individuals who share a collective goal and vison.

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