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Q&A: Talking with Dr. Kate C. McCauley, Principal and Regional Lead, Precinct Development and Planning, APAC

Kate talks about her passion for urban development, finding solutions at the nexus of people, places, and the environment and staying fit.

How can we create exceptional spaces that transform the way we live, work and play? How can we build smart, sustainable, and climate-resilient precincts of the future? How can we design spaces that foster liveable, connected and inclusive communities and deliver lasting social value?

Our visionaries at Jacobs are asking these bold questions today to reinvent built environments and shape our society, economy and environment for generations to come. 

For our “Co-creating exceptional precincts of the future” series, we caught up with our Principal and Regional Lead, Precinct Development and Planning, APAC, Dr. Kate C. McCauley.

Tell us a bit about your background and current role at Jacobs.

I’m an experienced senior real estate executive with a strong track record in designing and delivering major integrated urban precincts. As the Principal and Regional Lead, Precinct Development and Planning, APAC, I have extensive leadership experience across all phases – acquisitions, planning, design, delivery and divestment – of iconic, large-scale, complex, major and master planned urban development projects such as Suburban Rail Loop, Central Barangaroo, Parramatta Square, Darwin City Waterfront and Rhodes Waterside.

I have a track record of success in strategy development and execution, commercial negotiations, financial analysis, program and project management, stakeholder and community engagement, and thought leadership in social impact and urban planning, design and development.

What sparked your interest in this field? Are you where you thought you’d be?

I’m fascinated with how we experience places and how we – as a society – can make better decisions in interacting with our environments. So, urban development was a fairly natural fit for me. It presents so many opportunities (and challenges!) to find solutions at different scales at the nexus of people, places and the environment.

Am I where I thought I’d be? Not really, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What’s the favorite part of your job?

Working on solutions and towards shared objectives with a diverse group of people.

What has been your most interesting career moment to date?

There are so many interesting moments! I find my work exciting because every day presents something new. That’s the nature of bringing concepts and solutions to life – we’re always problem-solving and I thoroughly enjoy bringing innovative ideas into being. It’s very satisfying to work successfully with others across disciplines, finding solutions for complex problems.

From your perspective, what does a “successful” precinct project or program delivery look like?

Ah, that’s a great question! In my view, the answer comes down to who is asking the question and the time frame we’re looking at. Different stakeholders have different strategic objectives for a precinct, and they can be used to inform a project vision, shape the metrics and time frames to measure success.

It’s one thing to establish a vision and set strategic objectives for a precinct; it’s quite another to develop measurable targets that align with those and then find the right approach (i.e., sequencing) and resource allocation to deliver.

For my work, defining success in those terms is critical. It’s one that ideally starts at project inception and is refined to strengthen value capture throughout the project lifecycle and then into operations and asset management.

If I consider broadly, why I do this work, it’s to serve those who will experience the precinct or place down the track. In that way, success is about the inhabitants and future users of a precinct – what they need and who and what we need to deliver successfully.

So, part of the answer to this question comes back to the measures for success. That is, how we embed and govern measurable targets in the operational aspects of project planning and then test for alignment throughout the delivery process.

From your perspective, what are some of the key considerations that help drive successful precinct projects and programs?

It may seem elementary, but it’s worth dwelling on the importance of co-creating clear strategic project objectives in conversation with key stakeholders. Then working to define measurable targets and a plan for delivery while remembering that these targets can and should be refined during delivery as new information comes to light.

I’m blessed to work with a talented team at Jacobs. We’ve recently been doing some important work on social value creation to get the balance right between economic and population growth, and key infrastructure delivery including transport, health, education, social, community and green infrastructure provision.

If you aren’t working, what would we most likely find you doing?

We’re currently in lockdown in Sydney, so no doubt you’ll find me close to home! At least once a day you’ll find me training on the grass or going for a swim and walking with my partner and our dog.

People would be surprised to know that…

I often write poetry.

What attracted you to Jacobs?

The people, the corporate values and the overarching strategic direction of Jacobs.

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

Problem-solving with talented people!

 Get in touch with Dr. Kate C. McCauley on LinkedIn.

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.

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