HKA Core Values People Profile: Jessica Qiu – Passionate

Being passionate means different things to different people. Jessica Qiu, HKA Australia’s Lead Consultant, is passionate about underground construction, supersonic travel, the environment, music and family. She maintains a state of constant learning; exploring and acquiring knowledge in the hope to contribute positively to the world.

 What is your role at HKA?

I’m a Lead Consultant in the Advisory business stream and work closely with the Partners to solve all sorts of problems for clients, such as strategic and detailed project planning, scoping, procurement strategies, transactional advisory, operational feasibility and long-term operational plans. I put a lot of thought into understanding a client to ensure the advice we provide to them drives a sustainable and profitable business that suits their culture and vision.

Your background is very diverse, what have you studied?

Recently I completed an MBA where I focused on governance, operation / finance efficiency and people management for business. I also have a Master of Environmental Law, focused on construction and heritage protection and the future of the construction industry, as well as two Bachelor of Engineering degrees (Civil and Environmental).

Right now, I’m studying a Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement programme that has recently been certified as a procurement course in the UK, so I can become more aware of the latest approaches of PPP; providing better advice on its process and risks to our clients. This year I would also like to start a course with the Institute of Company Directors to prepare me for Board positions and allow me to advise clients at Board level.

How did you get into advisory?

Advisory is a very broad business area, and I think all professional consultants are advisers to a degree, although we may perform a range of drastically different tasks. I have always seen myself as an adviser, regardless if I’m acting as an engineering designer, project manager, or business consultant. In fact, I got into advisory as soon as I finished my Bachelor degree. Regardless of my job title, I have always seen myself as a problem solver for the client. As my experiences grow from the knowledge I have acquired from different areas, I’m better equipped to identify the true cause of the client’s problems and provide a more suitable solution tailored to their needs.

What drives you to keep learning?

I ask, why do people stop learning? When I get asked are you satisfied with your ‘current state’, are you 100% there yet with your learning? I would always answer yes, but I’m only 90% there. I believe if you are motivated to keep learning you will have the drive to keep acquiring knowledge and hopefully contribute positively to the world.

Tell us something interesting about your background?

I studied music and was a Concert Pianist; performing at the Opera House. I now teach music to students and help those who want to learn but aren’t sure how to start or continue.
I also studied professional cooking as I found the culinary art to be a fascinating representation of human civilisation and cultural diversity. But something that is quite unusual about my background is I worked as a production set actor on the Matrix movie. I guess you have to fill your life with different experiences to say that you have lived with no regrets.

When in your life have you been passionately focused on an activity?

I think you know when you have passion when can you completely lose yourself in the process. Passion can change as life changes; the key for me to keep exploring the endless possibilities.

Earlier in my career, I worked as a Geotechnical Engineer and would immerse myself in interesting landscapes and hard-to-reach places. I loved discovering the history of the earth; investigating locations that were once a volcano during construction of a highway in southern NSW, and finding fossils from Newcastle Singleton area when cutting into mountains in the Hunter Valley.

When I worked on a tunnelling project under the Sydney Opera House, I had the privilege of navigating through decades of information that hadn’t been unearthed since the Opera House was built.

As a young musician, I practiced eight to ten hours a day; immersing myself in notes by Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

Now I spend a lot of time with my son and focus on his happiness and wellbeing.

These are some of the moments where my passion for something has made me lose all track of time.

 What are your current goals?

I would like to help HKA deliver a client-focused service. Starting with clients that we have established relationships, I would like to work closely with them to observe what’s happening in their business – feel their business pain, help them to find a solution, and walk with them through the implementation process and continuously update the strategy and approach. Remembering that an organisation is a living organism constructed by its people, I believe that an agile, flexible and empathetic approach to our clients would yield an ultimate sustainable result. I’ve seen other consultancies just provide advice on the strategy and don’t see through the implementation process, leading a well thought-out strategy to fail. This is where I believe HKA can truly add value.

If you could work on solving one problem in the world, what would it be?

Limit the damage that humans are doing to the planet and allow an equal distribution of food and clean water to all. I wouldn’t be like Elon Musk and go live on Mars as we need to fix the problem right now before the Earth is gone. Besides, it seems a bit dusty up there on the red planet! And one more thing… supersonic speed rail all over the world.


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"I think you know when you have passion when can you completely lose yourself in the process. Passion can change as life changes; the key for me to keep exploring the endless possibilities... These are some of the moments where my passion for something has made me lose all track of time."
Jessica Qiu, Lead Consultant
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