GHD appoints Jim Giannopoulos as new global CEO

02 April 2024 3 min. read
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Global engineering consultancy GHD has appointed Jim Giannopoulos to take over from Ashley Wright as CEO, the latter’s legacy including the launch of the firm’s digital and advisory lines.

Professional services firm GHD has appointed Americas chief and three-decade company veteran Jim Giannopoulos as its new global CEO, with Giannopoulos arriving in Australia from Canada to take up the post.

He replaces Ashley Wright, who has occupied the top seat since 2016, a period during which the newly-formed GHD Digital and Advisory lines were expanded internationally and revenues climbed by more than $1 billion to $2.7 billion last year.

GHD appoints Jim Giannopoulos as new global CEO

Jim Giannopoulos, Global CEO, GHD

The appointment marks a homecoming for Giannopoulos, who joined GHD as a graduate in 1993 after completing a chemical engineering degree at the University of Melbourne. Since then, he has held numerous senior leadership positions across Australia and around the world, including as country manager in Thailand and Canada. For the past three years he has served as Americas CEO based out of Ontario, covering Canada, the US and Chile.

“I am excited by the opportunities for GHD’s global growth and passionate about partnering and collaborating to deliver positive outcomes for our clients and communities by continuing to provide innovative solutions to some of the biggest water, energy and community challenges,” Giannopoulos stated. “It’s an honour to lead such a strong, talented and collaborative team, united by our values and a common purpose of creating benefit.”

Described as a planned transition, predecessor Ashley Wright now departs the engineering and design firm after two decades, including time in earlier roles overseeing operations and GHD’s business in Western Australia, Europe and the Middle East prior to his appointment as CEO. In addition to steering revenue growth, Wright’s biggest likely legacy will be in the firm’s pivot to sustainability and digital offerings, along with the establishment of its consulting wing.

“Ashley charted a dynamic path forward with our sustainability-driven strategy, and his tenets of empathetic leadership and integrity will leave a lasting legacy on our firm,” stated GHD, with chair Rob Knott adding, “After eight years of service as chief executive and a 20-year career at GHD, Ashley’s impact has been profound. He has led us through immense changes with care and commitment, including the dark times of the Covid-19.”

Launched respectively in 2016 and 2018, GHD Advisory under the current leadership of president Richard Fechner has since expanded from Sydney to Asia, the UK, Middle East and North America, while GHD Digital – led by former KPMG global technology advisory COO Kumar Parakala – also now operates across nine countries worldwide, and was recently named by market insights consultancy EFCG as the industry leader for innovative transformation services.

While yet to reveal his next move, Wright said of his time at the firm; “I joined GHD twenty years ago because I believed it was one of the best professional services companies in the world. It’s been an immense honour to contribute to its growth and help shape the next generation of leaders. I’m particularly proud of our ability to grow and develop our leadership in the business and will leave GHD knowing it is in very capable hands.”