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Scott Charlton had no intention of leaving Lend Lease, until he
got an offer he couldn't refuse, writes Domini Stuart.
From missiles to motorways
Head-hunters often ask Scott Charlton if he can
recommend someone for a position they're trying to
ll. Recently, he listened to another list of desirable
qualities and said sorry; he couldn't help. But this
time it wasn't his recommendation the head-hunter
was after, it was him. The job was Chief Executive
Of cer of Transurban.
'The t hadn't clicked because I wasn't looking
for a new role,' he says. 'I was very happy at Lend
Lease -- it's a great company, they were very good to
me, and I hadn't accomplished everything I set out
to do there. But Transurban presented such a great
opportunity; it was as if my whole career in Australia
had been leading up to this role.'
Charlton was born in Houston and raised just
outside Dallas. His rst ambition, to become an
architect, had one fatal aw -- he couldn't draw.
Instead, his skills in maths and problem solving led
to a degree in electrical engineering and a job with
Texas Instruments, designing laser-guided systems for
bombs. He soon realised that he didn't want to design
circuits for the rest of his life, so he studied for an
MBA and moved into nance. When the savings and
loan crisis blew up in the 1980s, Charlton worked
on restructuring bank portfolios. As some included
infrastructure, this was his rst step on the path that
would eventually lead to senior executive roles in
In the meantime, he took a year off to go
backpacking and, in New Zealand, met his English-
born future wife. They both enjoyed Australia and, in
1992, decided to come back -- though the original
plan was to stay just for a year or two.
'Ironically, my rst major assignment in Australia
was to model the Melbourne CityLink bid for the
competitor who lost out to Trans eld-Macquarie,
which eventually became Transurban,' he says. 'I was
working for a consortium called CHART -- Clough
Engineering, John Holland, Roche Brothers and
Thiess Contractors -- and one of the reasons we lost
out was that our contractors didn't want to do the
deep tunnel under the Yarra.'
If Charlton has come full circle, it is by way of
three de ning roles that allowed him to strengthen
complementary skills. They also taught him about
the demands of different time frames -- from the
fast turnaround of investment banking through
to the longer cycles in construction and property
As an investment banker at Deutsche Bank,
Charlton cut his teeth during the 1990s, when there
was a wave of privatisation of infrastructure assets.
Chief Executive Of cer,
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