Q&A: Talking with Steve Vincent, Energy and Power Sector Lead - Asia and Country Manager, Philippines
Steve talks about some of the challenges we’re looking to solve in the Philippines, enabling energy transition across Asia, bringing real value for communities and his love for scuba diving and wakeboarding.
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 Steve Vincent, energy and power sector lead and Asia and country manager of the Philippines and one of the visionaries in our incredible Philippines team. He talks to us about some of the challenges we’re looking to solve in the Philippines, enabling energy transition across Asia, bringing real value for communities and his love for scuba diving and wakeboarding.
Tell us about your career background and role at Jacobs.
I’m a mechanical engineer by qualification, but I came to engineering late in life after a previous career in management consulting. I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving, and the mix of management and engineering is a great fit in terms of bringing both perspectives. I joined Jacobs soon after graduating and have worked as an engineer, design lead, project and program lead and business manager in my 15 years so far. My role provides the perfect mix of executing exciting projects with great people. It gives me a unique ability to pull together successful teams from our local Filipino and expatriate staff together with our world-leading subject matter experts to deliver on our promises to clients and stakeholders alike.
What sparked your interest in a STEAM career?
I’ve always enjoyed bringing people together to face challenges and exceed expectations. It’s truly an honor to be in the Philippines and have a pan-Asia business leadership role at such an exciting time in the growth of the region as it accelerates towards the future. I love interacting with project stakeholders, asset owners and investors to add real value and help realize their visions.
What are you most passionate about and what’s the favorite part of your role?
I’m passionate about empowering people – giving people the opportunity to stretch themselves and realize what they’re capable of. It’s rewarding for everyone when people discover their true potential and bring their best selves to an opportunity. Also, looking back on a successful project with the team and talking through how we overcame all the challenges together is extremely satisfying and rewarding.
In your role, how are you challenging today and reinventing tomorrow?
I like to constantly test what we are doing and why. Just because we’ve executed a certain way previously doesn’t mean that’s the most effective or the only way right now or in the future. As a New Zealander, I bring our “number eight wire” thinking to solve problems and maximize the outcome regardless of what’s available. I love the lightbulb moments when we resolve unique challenges into inventive solutions.
Note: Number eight wire refers to a gauge of fencing wire that has been used inventively by New Zealanders for countless uses in their farms, factories and homes. Consequently, the term “number eight wire” has come to represent the ingenuity and resourcefulness of New Zealanders.
What was your first project at Jacobs and its impact on the community?
My first major engineering project was the 250 million liters per day Sydney Desalination Plant, where I was the lead piping engineer. It was a huge and fast-paced project, solving an impending water shortage in Sydney, Australia. As a complex and critical major infrastructure development, there were many challenges to overcome to minimize environmental, social and commercial impact for local residents and Sydney as a whole. The plant remains a fundamental asset to the city and provides resiliency of water supply for many years to come.
As our Country Manager for the Philippines, can you tell us about some of the challenges we’re looking to solve in the country?
The Philippines is a vibrant and complex country at the cusp of substantial growth. There are numerous challenges to overcome to implement effective transport, water, energy and climate resiliency infrastructure solutions to provide a solid foundation for the residents moving forward. We see Jacobs as a key partner in the execution of those solutions to provide confidence to owners, investors, stakeholders and communities by leveraging world-leading skills into the Philippines context. The balance of value versus cost is a consistent consideration, and we endorse this ongoing debate to maximize the results of local and international investment for the people of the Philippines in the future.
Congratulations on your recent appointment as the Energy and Power Sector Lead – Asia. Can you tell us about the energy and power challenges we’re looking to solve in Asia?
We are at a pivotal moment with respect to energy use and sustainable power supply to our growing populations and economies throughout Asia. Jacobs has been at the forefront of major power developments for all primary energy use technologies in Asia since the 1970s – starting with the development of the first geothermal power projects in Indonesia and the Philippines. As our geographies continue to evolve, the challenge is to incorporate ever more sustainable solutions into our energy mix and integrate this into a connected, resilient supply network that provides access for industry and communities alike. Enabling investment and growth in smart energy infrastructure is a key strategy for Jacobs as we provide meaningful support to enable these energy transition programs throughout the Asia region.
Tell us about a memorable project you’ve been involved in and why it’s special to you.
My first project outside of Australia and New Zealand involved a new geothermal development in Nicaragua. I traveled to the project site in 2008 and spent a month working with the owner and stakeholders to map out the development plans with an intent to minimize disruption and maximize value to the local community as much as possible.
Despite not being a very large geothermal plant by global comparisons at the time, it was clear that the project would have a huge impact for local people, given the low socioeconomic position of the country following years of internal war. It was humbling to be involved in something that was so different to growing up in New Zealand, and to be able to bring real value in support of the local community as it looked to emerge and re-build.
Your proudest moment at Jacobs…
I attended a gathering of the Jacobs leadership group in Dallas a few years ago. It coincided with the relaunching of our global brand and a review of the first stage of our transformational journey towards a company like no other. Interacting with Jacobs’ senior leaders from all over the world gave me huge pride in the impact that our teams provide for clients and communities and the innovative solutions involved. The validation of our journey and the engagement from the global teams gave me huge confidence that we were on the right track.
People would be surprised to know that …
I’m very hands-on. I partially renovated our house in New Zealand before we left and previously worked as a structural fitter and welder for a steel framing and commercial building company.
When you’re not at work, you enjoy…
I love scuba diving and wakeboarding. The Philippines is a great place for outdoor activities and we’re privileged to be able to access those unique locations when the situation allows. There are so many fantastic dive spots still on my list, but I’m working hard to get through as many of them as I can.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?
The culture. Jacobs is an inclusive and diverse workplace that celebrates differences and where people truly enjoy coming to work. I feel privileged to have led fantastic multi-cultural teams and worked with so many diverse groups and backgrounds to deliver results for internal and external clients alike. We work hard to recognize excellence and I’m pleased to say that the Jacobs Philippines team shines above in celebrating our successes through numerous global awards. It’s a great place to be.
Join #OurJacobs team
What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable.
We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.