Rising to the challenge
Phoenix Project Management is an Adelaide based project management company, founded in 2006. At the time, remarks Charles Irving, PhoenixPM Managing Director Phoenix PM, it started very small. “In 2006 we started with only one man, namely myself, and we currently now have a team of 20. We started off just working in the railway industry, now we work in all areas of the infrastructure industry,” says Irving. Since 2006, PhoenixPM has expanded its activities across the infrastructure industry “We now can deliver power, roads, water and waste water, railway and port infrastructure,” he says. One of the most forward thinking aspects in which they are now involved in is the delivery of e-health projects. Irving describes the growth as both organic and progressive. “We grew from one employee, to two, to three, and then to four. That process of growth took us about two-and-a-half years. But in the last three years it has been really leaps and bounds,” he says.
Along with its long list of capabilities and service areas, the Company has expanded its geographical reach. “We are able to do projects in the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and South Australia. In the past year or two we have also completed a number of commissions in Western Australia,” says Irving. “We are starting to spread our wings a little bit – if you’ll pardon the pun.”Of course this brings up the question of how Irving arrived at the name Phoenix.“It is not as mysterious as some people think. It was a change in career and the start of something new. It was not about rising from the ashes of an old career; it was about creating something new,” he explains. “It came to a point where I wanted to strike out and do things my way.” Since 2006 Phoenix Project Management has taken on more than 100 contracts, and completed them in a manner that often exceeds their clients’ expectations.
Expanding with the demand
“We did take on a large number of projects during that first period, but you always remember the lessons learned. So you can take from each experience the things that went well and of course the things that didn’t go so well. This is the benefit of experience,” he says. Each project, says Irving, makes PheonixPM a better company than it was before. This is a positive attitude, and one that is reflected in all of their operational dealings. “To get a picture about how we have grown in the past few years, I will say that of course I can give someone a run-down on every one of the projects that PhoenixPM was involved in the first few years, when there were three or four of us, but could I give you an overview of the day to day aspects of each of the project we are involved in right now? Not without looking it up!” This, he says, at once describes the success that they are enjoying, and also shows how much they have grown. Although Irving does maintain a fairly high-level in the operations of the company, it has grown too large for him to do it alone. “We brought on a General Manager three or so years ago, and he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business. He could certainly reel off all of our projects off the top of his head,” he says. “I still work directly with Clients as I enjoy this aspect of the work; right now I am working for two clients. I guess it keeps me out of trouble,” jokes Irving.
Living up to their own high standards
“Our motto is professional delivery and personal commitment, and that is really what Phoenix is all about,” says Irving. “We deliver project management services, and we deliver a lot of the support services around project management, but most importantly I have great staff that are very committed to the cause. I like to run the organisation with this type of staff, in fact as any consulting firm knows we are only as good as our people, and they make the Company. That, I think, is our real point of difference. We are professionals and we care.”
PhoenixPM projects have also made a lasting impact on the areas that they have been undertaken in. This does stand as a point of pride for the group, and is one of the things that helps them to maintain a focus on delivering quality projects to their clients. For them, it is really a case of their work speaking for their business. “The larger projects of course have a visible impact on the community, but some of them have less of a visible impact. These can often be as gratifying as those that are visible – but it is good to be able to go for a drive on the weekend in the hills and come up to a pump station that we refurbished, or a water treatment plant that we were involved in upgrading and know we’ve done something good for the community. But of course it’s gratifying, for instance when we build a railway station or other visible projects; it leaves a legacy of public infrastructure, and it is great to be involved at that level,” he says. He also points to a number of larger infrastructure projects where PhoenixPM is providing project management support services, such as the Adelaide Desalinisation Plant. “Work like that is a-once-in-a-generation opportunity, which is fantastic for our team to be involved in. I am personally involved in electrifying the rail lines, which again is once-in-a-generation work. We have been lucky to be in a position where our clients have wanted us involved in these land mark projects, as they represent real impacts on people’s lives.”
An interesting development in their resume and capabilities is their recent involvement in e-health initiatives. “Someone looked us up in the Yellow Pages, and with very short timeframes and challenging delivery requirements, we were able to come through and deliver. We then tendered and successfully won a much longer contract for a number of projects with that client,” says Irving. He says that he finds once the company begins work with a Client, they tend to stay with them. “It is fairly infrequently that they will fall off our books,” he says. “I really cannot think of a Client that we have had since we have worked with since 2006 that we are not still delivering work to in some shape or form.”
Another side less well-known to the company is its philanthropic side. PhoenixPM is a proud supporter of WaterAid, Medicins Sans Frontiers, Cancer Council and World Vision. “These are charities whose causes have touched my life in some way, and I am grateful we’re in a position to support them.” says Irving, who is the current South Australian Chair of WaterAid. PhoenixPM also supports the Sporting Car Club of South Australia, and is a corporate member and regular event sponsor for numerous industry bodies. “I like to think of myself as an ‘entry-level’ philanthropist, and our corporate support is the way I can give back to the community” says Irving, “We have had a great number of supporters (Clients) who have helped us grow since our inception, and we are very happy to reciprocate in our support the community wherever we can.”
Looking to the future, Irving says that they have a definite plan in place to move the company forward. “Our strategic plan for the next five years sees growth continuing in the same sort of manner that it currently does,” he says. “We are looking to expand into interstate, other new industries, and to gain a foothold in existing industries.” He says that PhoenixPM is in their third year of running strategic planning strategies. “In those three years we have been able to check a heck of a lot of boxes,” he says. “So when I am talking about the expansion we have recently engaged in, it is those strategies coming to fruition.”