Over the course of his half-century career, Rehan ul Ambia Riaz, MEng (Building) 79, has seen untold changes in his industry. One constant, however, has been the Karachi-based engineer’s steadfast commitment to professionalism and best practices.
As a result, ul Ambia Riaz was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by Pakistan’s premier professional body for engineers.
In a recent interview he acknowledged the advantages of his Concordia education with pride and shared some fond and vivid remembrances of his time at the university.
Can you tell us more about your recent award?
Rehan ul Ambia Riaz: It was given by the Institute of Engineers, Pakistan, a professional organization established in 1948. The basis for the award was my contributions to teaching and training engineers on the practical applications of project management knowledge.
I felt honoured and a sense of fulfillment that my 50 years of work in this field was recognized. It was the result of my strong background of knowledge gained at Concordia University.
Could you provide us with an overview of your career post-Concordia?
RAR: After graduating, I landed in Karachi in 1980. In 1981 I was made responsible for total project management of a large commercial complex, the largest in Pakistan at the time. I got the opportunity to apply the knowledge I gained at Concordia.
Three other projects I am proud of include the renovation of two stadiums that co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in 1996. The deadline was firm, with no allowance for extension. Working 24 hours a day the upgrades were completed on time and within budget. The third project was the completion of a cancer hospital conceptualized by Imran Khan, the current prime minister of Pakistan.
You presented a paper in February 2019 on time and cost overruns on major construction projects. What have you learned about this endemic problem over the course of your career?
The focus of my research was to determine the major reasons for time delays and cost overruns, and who was responsible and to what extent. I had chosen 48 factors, out of which 15 proved most critical. Responsible stakeholders were further classified into groups that were significantly responsible for those factors.
The chronic problem on almost all projects in Pakistan is the poor knowledge of clients (mostly bureaucrats) about the intricacies involved in a project’s life cycle and the importance of project management. Some measures that may help mitigate time and cost overruns include hiring qualified people, avoiding overly aggressive schedules and engaging cost engineers.
What do you most remember about your time at Concordia?