Scott Richards started his journey with Lithon in early 2019 as a project management consultant. Now, almost two years later, he’s a member of the Exco team and is heading up an exciting new project management business unit. We chatted to him to find out about his transition from engineering to project management, his focus at Lithon, and what excites him about the company’s growth and future.
You started your career as an engineer. How did you move into project management?
After studying at the University of Cape Town and working at BKG Consulting Engineers in South Africa, I moved to London in 2002 and joined a project management consultancy. While I enjoy the technical aspects of my job, I’m a people person and project management is a really good fit for me – no day is ever the same and I spend most of my time working with people and teams at various levels and on different media.
How and when did you join Lithon?
I moved to Namibia with my wife in 2007 and had been consulting for a number of years when I started working with Lithon in early 2019. I consulted to them for a year, which gave me an insight into the company’s vision and culture. At Lithon, there’s a genuine sense of confidence without arrogance or entitlement, and that really appealed to me. In early 2020, I joined the team on a full-time basis to head up a dedicated project management business unit.
What are some of the key aspects of your role?
Putting structures and governances in place across the business units, which is critical for plans to be implemented efficiently, as well as developing a project management approach within the company and its projects. Training is key as is getting buy-in from the team, and we’re currently running training sessions with six engineers who will become project management professionals. I’m also searching for new revenue streams for the company and looking for ways to leverage our in-house services and skills.
What excites you most about the company’s future?
I’m excited not only about the growth of the business, but also about starting a new revenue stream for Lithon – it’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to do this in a formal environment and with an established brand. I’m also looking forward to seeing Lithon grow internationally.
What does an average day look like for you?
I wake up at 5am to exercise and get to the office by 7.15am. We have an Exco meeting at 8am every morning, after which I do some forward planning, visit one of the projects on site or meet with a client – the afternoons tend to be reserved for high-priority items and tenders. I usually head home at about 5.30pm to help the kids with homework and get them ready for bed, and then spend an hour catching up on work from 8pm to 9pm.
You also lecture part-time at the Namibia Business School. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I became involved with the Business School through Lithon founder Adriaan Grobler, and I now spend a few weeks each year lecturing on project management. It takes me out of my comfort zone, which I enjoy, and the lecturing is a lot of fun! We have recently initiated a Namibia Business School – Lithon Project Management Academy where we will invite top students from the course to do a project management internship at Lithon, where they get the opportunity to work on live projects.
What has been a career highlight for you?
I enjoy all the projects I work on – they all have their highs and lows. We’re currently working on a large-scale upgrade of Hosea Kutako International Airport and are having to deal with the curveballs thrown at us by Covid-19. I also worked on the Terminal 5 project at Heathrow Airport when I was living in the UK, which was phenomenal.
How do you enjoy spending time when you’re not in the office?
My wife and I do a lot of off-road cycling – mostly for enjoyment, although we do participate in some team events. Our family enjoys being in nature, away from urban areas, so we spend quite a bit of time on the farm outside of Windhoek – it’s a beautiful, mountainous area and great for riding.
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