Q&A Dec 17, 2021

Q&A: Talking with Joseph Ciancimino, Senior Program Director, Philippines

Joseph talks about his passion for developing cities and countries through transportation and smart cities programs, providing strategic leadership for iconic mega programs and his love for traveling, historic hotels and Disneyland.

Joe Ciancimino

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 Jacobs Senior Program Director, Philippines, Joseph Ciancimino, one of the visionaries in our incredible Philippines team. He talks to us about his passion for developing cities and countries through transportation and smart cities programs, providing strategic leadership for iconic mega programs and his love for traveling, historic hotels and Disneyland.

Tell us about your career background and role at Jacobs.

I was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S., in a rather small community. After studying economics at Carroll University, I started my professional life working on telecommunications and fiber network projects locally. Soon I grew in my career and led progressively larger, national civil infrastructure projects.

Beyond the U.S., I’ve lived and worked in the Middle East, Europe, U.K., North Africa, Australia, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Brazil and Canada. I now work and live in the Philippines.

I’ve spent nearly 30 years providing strategic leadership and innovative perspective to develop smart cities, airports and aerotropolises, metro/rail, transit-oriented developments (TOD), hotels/resorts, city developments and other iconic mega- and giga-programs globally. I’ve served as a global vice president, senior executive and board member of development organizations, managing strategic initiatives for the World Bank, USAID, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, World Cup, G20, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other private investor organizations. Currently, I’m leading the planning and delivery of the New Manila International Airport.

What sparked your interest in a STEAM career?

Starting with my background in economics, I’ve found it exciting to be part of projects that grow economies and communities. It’s amazing to be part of projects such as metro and airport that employ thousands of people and are central to people’s daily lives.

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

I’m extremely passionate about using my experience and expertise in helping cities and countries develop their communities through transportation and smart cities programs. It’s incredible to see how these projects can change a city socially, economically, as well as environmentally.

The favorite part of my role is the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout the world to work on some truly iconic projects.

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

From my initial days in telecommunications, I’ve always embraced technology and innovation. Over the past several years, I’ve been part of Jacobs’ innovation as a service initiative as it complements the programs that I’m involved with, such as smart cities, metro/rail and airports. As we continually look to the future for such projects that may last for tens of generations, it’s necessary that as part of planning these mega infrastructure programs we also create a digital masterplan for their future that include technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), robotics, automation, digital twins, as well as innovations that we’ve not even dreamt of yet.

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

My first role with Jacobs was leading a portfolio of mega projects and programs for the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) programs in Saudi Arabia. It was a pleasure to be able to start the new Jasara organization for Jacobs in partnership with Saudi Aramco and PIF, as well as providing strategic leadership for some of the largest development programs in the world.

This portfolio of projects will have had a major impact in Saudi as it will create millions of new communities, tourist destinations, and critical infrastructure such as airports and transportation systems. Most importantly the programs have created thousands of new jobs and opportunities for the residents of Saudi Arabia.

How about your proudest moment at Jacobs?

It was extremely incredible to be part of the establishment and leadership of Jasara, the partnership between Jacobs, Saudi Aramco, and Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), to plan and develop some of the largest programs in the world such as the King Abdullah Financial District, NEOM, Amaala, and Red Sea developments. These projects are amazing as beyond their scale and magnitude of infrastructure and land development, it’s their social and economic impacts on the country and the people of Saudi Arabia. Having the fortune to work with some of the best global talent, as well as the Saudi government leadership including His Royal Highness  Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, was the opportunity of a lifetime.

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

The Philippines is an amazing country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With rapid growth, the country faces significant challenges in expanding their transportation infrastructure. We are looking to support the country through various initiatives including the development of the new Manila International Airport, which is planned to be a new global hub airport. Additionally, we aim to support the Philippines’ economic expansion though transportation programs such as metro, rail, roadways and ports.

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

It’s difficult to pick just one as I’ve been involved in many iconic and extraordinary projects…Perhaps, the Doha Metro, as I’ve been involved with it in two separate phases: planning and delivery. From concept to operations this has been an exceptional project as it’s a massive greenfield metro program that seeks to transform the country’s infrastructure, as well as its culture. The program had many unique and interesting challenges – for instance, the size of the project, the logistics, manpower requirements, design challenges, and most of all the schedule.  Perhaps what was truly amazing was that it all came together as planned, with several metro lines finishing early!

People would be surprised to know that …

I’m a bit of a Disneyland fanatic!  Since my first visit to the Disney World as a three-year-old, I’ve absolutely loved Disney and other theme parks. I’ve travelled throughout the world just to visit Disney parks and resorts. While I enjoy the rides, it’s the history, the storytelling and the immersive theming that I find truly interesting. I was extremely fortunate that briefly during my career, I was involved in the planning phases of the Warner Bros. theme park.

When you’re not at work, you enjoy…

As with my career, I very much enjoy traveling throughout the world with my family - I’ve had the great opportunity to visit many amazing places. I’m also a hotel enthusiast and history buff!  Perhaps built on my career which has included the development of resorts and hotels, as well as my love for travel, I revel in learning about the history, the structure and the operations of great hotels. I love staying in some of the great historic hotels throughout the world as well.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

At Jacobs, I’ve been involved with organizations in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, Canada, and now the Philippines, all of which have a genuine culture of caring.  It’s great to be working with Jacobs, a leader in innovations and solutions that believes in challenging today and reinventing tomorrow to become a great company and an employer with values at its core.

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.