Q&A with GML Chair Peter Root

Business leader Peter Root recently joined the GML Board and is now Chair. GML spoke with Peter to find out more about his career, his leadership style, and his thoughts on the future of heritage.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am the founder and chairman of RP Infrastructure Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s leading national advisory and project management consulting businesses providing services to a diverse range of sectors including Civic and Culture, Tertiary and Schools Education, Health, Aged Care, Science & Research, Logistics, Transport and Tourism.

Over the past 35 years I have played leading roles in the conceptualisation, feasibility, delivery and operational planning of numerous major social, transport and commercial infrastructure projects. These include the original Powerhouse Museum, the Melbourne Museum, the redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial, the expansion of both Sydney and Melbourne International airports, the expansion of Webb docks in Melbourne, the Melbourne Showgrounds redevelopment, the Melbourne Wholesale Markets redevelopment, the roll out of new logistics facilities for Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, signature developments for the Universities in both Sydney and Melbourne, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the Walsh Bay Precinct, and the Sydney Opera House.

My career has necessarily involved effective high-level engagement and communication with Federal and State Governments, with leaders in finance, commercial law, architecture, engineering and construction and with a very wide range of clients, their business operations and their relevant governance structures.

I have focussed on leading through the successful blending of clear, accountable and insightful commercial management with the optimisation of creative, cultural, technical and operational outcomes.

Why did you decide to join the GML Board?

I had stepped down from the role as Managing Director of RP Infrastructure in March 2022, relinquishing my involvement in the day to day operations of that business, but maintaining a role as a non-executive director and now Chairman. It had always been a fundamental driver for me to be involved in activities and initiatives that, in my view, contributed positively to our communities through both preserving and developing our built environments and essential infrastructure.

Having the time and space to be involved in other roles I was looking for the opportunity to work with a firm that was of a size and nature where my business experience could add value, and where the work undertaken by that business would offer me the opportunity to broaden my interest in the built environment. GML offered that opportunity.

How do your values align with the company’s share values?

GML’s overt respect and acknowledgement of First Nations people, its determination to learn from our past, its commitment to its people, to never-ending curiosity and courageous independence whilst embracing our contemporary world appealed to me. I know how hard it is sometimes to be able to maintain a focus on such values and I believe that GML has done this very successfully for many years.

As Chair, what do you see up ahead for GML?

GML is now in its second generation of leadership, with the founders who built the business and its exemplary reputation now retired or pursing other activities. This transition has been accompanied by growth, and it’s fair to say, some growing pains – the firm is in a fantastic position to consolidate its position in the market, to invest in developing further potential in its people and its services and to then drive for greater returns for its clients, shareholders and staff. As Chairman, I intend to offer both strong and accountable governance over this next period of the firm’s evolution and of course, guidance and advice when it is sought.

What do you think is the future for heritage in Australia?

Well, tomorrow today will be yesterday! So we are operating in an ever growing market!

Thankfully, I believe that our communities are much more aware of the need to learn from, and where appropriate, preserve material evidence from our past. Our services embrace community, built, landscape and climate heritage, and we have the capacity through our archaeological, interpretation and design skills to service this need both locally and globally. I believe that the future for GML is very bright!