Q&A Dec 21, 2022

Delivering Projects More Efficiently, Effectively: A Q&A with Head of Sector, Transportation & Logistics in the Middle East, Markos Apostolides

Markos talks about what it takes to boldly move forward in the high-octane business environment in the Middle East.

Markos Apostolides headshot in banner graphic

Growing up in Lebanon to a Brazilian mother and a Greek father, Markos Apostolides was destined for an international career as someone who understands and thrives through diversity and change. He started his career as a civil engineer doing site supervision on remote projects in Angola — a place he’d never heard of before — and then Mozambique before he engineered a move to Dubai to work on the Metro project. After moving through these countries, he enrolled in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and used the degree to move into a role in sales and then operations. He joined Jacobs in 2016 as the outside sales lead for Transportation. Now, he leads the Transportation sector and talks to us about what makes him and the sector tick.

What are you most excited about in the Middle East?

My answer is twofold — I would like to be able to contribute to the portfolio of creative and sizeable projects that are unique to the Middle East, like a boutique, iconic and greenfield airport we are working on that will drive tourism growth for the community where we’re working. At the same time, I’d like to continue improving on our approach to managing and delivering these projects more efficiently and effectively. I believe our new company strategy drives this forward by bringing digital and physical connectivity to the same space and integrating sustainable design into everything we do.

What’s one initiative you’re focused on right now?

Speaking of connectivity, the speed at which the delivery of our designs is moving from 2D to 3D is breathtaking and shows us the power of data solutions to change the nature of the game. Staying ahead of technology improvements is not possible; however, adjusting and upskilling are the two attributes the team is focusing on constantly and we’re dedicated to tracking our progress through our Delivery 4.0 initiative, led by our Director of Digital Transformation in the Middle East, Junaid Hasan.

How is your team delivering on our new company strategy?

We have restructured our business in a way that adapts naturally to the strategy. Our markets and sectors will help Jacobs serve its clients better and nurture collaboration. For example, in some of the initiatives we are already working toward, we’re trying to help our airport clients understand their carbon footprint so that mitigation and adaptation to climate change can take place. Another example is the opening game discussions happening to influence airlines about the conversion from fossil fuel to hydrogen.

In addition, our Consulting and Advisory business in the Middle East under Grace Moujaes is well-placed to continue with its high growth and high margins. I’m looking forward to collaborating with her team and watching them grow in the region.

“Staying ahead of technology improvements is not possible; however, adjusting and upskilling are the two attributes the team is focusing on constantly.”

Markos Apostolides

Jacobs Head of Sector, Transportation & Logistics in the Middle East

Can you share a lesson you’ve learned in recent years?

I’ve learned an important lesson about managing communication and dealing with conflict that helped me build my strength in communication — that often, what looks like an argument escalating between two individuals is probably the result of some external pressure and isn’t something to be taken personally. The pressure of the professional system, the situation we’re in and the conditions at that very moment are all contributors. I urge all to always read the situation and analyze the drivers of those around you.

This is why I believe effective communication is a valuable tool and, importantly, one of my strengths. I believe in the power of trying to talk things through and actively listen. To build strong relationships and trust, and achieve results, we need to remember that listening is 50% of the communication.

Let’s also always assume positive intent.

What’s something you didn’t know last week?

How impressive our projects are. We mention the Expo 2020 Dubai and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ programs quite a lot and we often forget other amazing projects, like the one I just visited in Saudi Arabia, the Ras Al Khair Marine Yard — the largest shipyard in the world. The skills of our team on the ground are special and the reason Jacobs can embrace BIM and help our business with its Delivery 4.0 initiative — our avenue toward digital transformation.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

During my MBA years, a colleague mine said: “If you want to be a CEO, behave like a CEO.” This has resonated with me and been my mantra and advice to so many around me since. It is so true.

When you’re not working, you can be found…

Cycling, either at Al Qudra or Nad El Sheba. We are so fortunate in the United Arab Emirates to have such state-of-the-art track facilities. It is the one hobby that helps me clear my mind.

People would be surprised to know that…

I was a tennis professional when I was still a student. I was even contemplating skipping university and going to France to focus on improving my game and playing on the tour. I then injured my shoulder at age 18 and instead became a coach and started teaching children until I left for my first job in Angola in 1997.

What is your proudest moment?

Professionally, a proud moment for me was when I was tapped to take an operational role and be in charge of Transportation and Logistics — being recognized is so important. And giving recognition to others is something important to remember when you’re leading and managing others.

This new role brings my career experience from the engineering and managerial to the forefront in a challenging role where I get to help make our work, company, and region a better place to be.

About the interviewee

Markos started his career as a project engineer in Angola and transitioned through geographic scope and career-building positions to currently serve at Jacobs as Head of Sector, Transportation for the Middle East in Dubai. During his career, he received a Masters in Business Administration and took up cycling in his free time. With nearly 25 years of experience, Markos has seen his share of change in the industry and is excited to see the current digital transformation trends improve our project delivery to make our world a better place.

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