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Insights Simon Layzell: From Electrical Engineer to Delivery Director at NEOM

Simon Layzell is a renowned name in the world of groundbreaking projects, intricate engineering, and enduring leadership. He has been an integral part of AtkinsRéalis for over four decades, leading the company towards success with his profound experiences and exceptional skills. Over the years, he has taken on roles that many could only dream of, witnessing and contributing to the evolution of both himself and the company. In this enlightening Q&A session, we will dive into Simon's illustrious career, exploring the challenges he has faced and the legacy he leaves behind in shaping global infrastructure development. As Simon prepares to retire, let us celebrate his achievements and learn from his remarkable journey.

Exceeding Expectations in Every Role

Since Simon joined AtkinsRéalis in 1988, he has donned various hats—Electrical Engineer, Project Manager, Commercial Director, Project Director, Business Leader, Delivery Director, and finally Senior Hidden Marina Delivery Director at NEOM- the Line. Each position was a lesson in adaptability and perseverance, influencing his ability to tackle multifaceted challenges head-on.

With every professional incarnation, he learned a precious lesson in agility. For him, change wasn't just a necessity; it was a catalyst for growth, both in his role's scope and his team's expectations. Simon always strived to remain a step ahead, understanding that change is constant, and the key to success lies in how he manages and capitalizes on it.

Roots of Motivation and Company Loyalty

Marking 35 years with AtkinsRéalis is a testament to both the company's enduring legacy and the remarkably diverse opportunities it offers. During Simon’s research as part of his original interview in 1998, he was initially drawn to AtkinsRéalis' people-centric philosophy and client approach. Simon found motivation in the company’s roots and resilience, a value that has been paramount in driving complex projects to fruition.

The motivation doesn't stem solely from his professional engagements but also from the metamorphoses he witnesses in AtkinsRéalis. The ability of the organization to evolve, integrate new technologies, and, most importantly, retain a strong core that values its employees is what kept the fire in Simon alive.

Cherished Memories and Life-Altering Assignments

Simon’s unforgettable memory stems from his role as a Project Director on the Gautrain Railway project in Johannesburg, South Africa. The technical marvel of the project accompanied with the human element it undertook is what moved him. Simon aligned his passions to raise funds and volunteer at a local orphanage in Alexandria Township, an experience that touched him profoundly.

There have been many such endeavors where his team and Simon didn't just build structures; they crafted experiences and touched lives. Projects like NEOM in Saudi Arabia have not only expanded his professional horizons but also allowed Simon to work alongside exceptionally talented individuals, each striving for greatness in their own unique way.

The Magistery of NEOM and Career Pinnacle

Simon remarks that NEOM has truly been the crescendo of his career with AtkinsRéalis. The magnitude of NEOM, conceived on the grandest scale, was a challenge that fed his professional appetite. But beyond the project's scale, what Simon found most positive was the convergence of talent, the amalgamation of skills, and the synchronization of efforts from diverse corners of the globe.

Engaging with NEOM was like a multi-dimensional chess game, and Simon feels privileged in being one of the players. The experience was a rare opportunity to work in an environment that demanded exceptional strategic thinking and unparalleled coordination. He remarks that was a fitting finale to his career trajectory.

Triumph Amidst Trial: Overcoming Challenges

Simon remarks that throughout his tenure, he has often been tagged as the 'fixer,' the one you'd call when the situation seemed dire. One particular challenge stands out to him, when he found himself embedded in projects ridden with discord among stakeholders and, at times, clients. The key, he has learned, is to ensure clear communication prevails, irrespective of the situation, and facts are the lifeblood of any resolution.

In turbulent times, Simon maintains a steadfast sense of professionalism, brought parties to the table, and ensconced us in a dialogue underpinned by integrity and candor. Simon finds that an element of humor, also acts as a strategic buffer, diffusing tension and allowing for the calm that's necessary to chart a path forward.

The Evolution of AtkinsRéalis and an Individual

Simon states that at the onset, AtkinsRéalis was a relatively small outfit with traditional engineering tools and a modicum of personnel compared to its current eminence. Witnessing the company's technological leap, adoption of digital advancements, and burgeoning global footprint has been inspiring. Yet, amidst this evolution, the core values and integrity that defined AtkinsRéalis from its inception remained steadfast.

On a personal level, Simon metamorphosed from a young engineer taking his first steps into the corporate world to a seasoned professional capable of steering enterprises on a global scale. This evolution is a tapestry woven with the threads of challenges surmounted, lessons imbibed, and the intrinsic transformation that accompanies such an illustrious career trajectory.

Lessons for the Next Generation

Simon suggests that first and foremost is to embrace every opportunity as a potential for learning. His own education of sorts occurred during an overseas assignment in Abu Dhabi, which disproportionally endowed Simon with knowledge and insights that proved vital in his later career. Indeed, journeys outside one's comfort zone are the ones that yield the most growth.

For aspiring engineers and budding leaders, Simon stresses the value of self-reflection and the ability to project excellence, not just in the professional realm, but in one's character. Be an ardent listener, a purveyor of fairness, and a guardian of personal integrity. Lastly, do not shy away from challenges; they are the conduits through which you'll carve a distinguished path.

As Simon Layzell would say, "Let us embrace every opportunity with passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to excellence." And with that, we encourage you to join AtkinsRéalis and strive towards greatness. 

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