Atula lecture with Skempton building background

Engineering a Better World

Atula Abeysekera is a Professor of Practice (Risk Management), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London

Date: Wednesday 7 December 2022
Time: 18.00 – 19.00
Venue: Imperial College London, Skempton Building, Ground floor, Lecture theatre 164 (B3 on campus map), SW7 2AZ and Microsoft Teams Live Event

Agenda
17.30 Doors open
18.00 Welcome – Professor Washington Ochieng, FREng
18.05 Inaugural Lecture by Professor Atula Abeysekera, FCGI
18.45 Vote of thanks – Dame Judith Hackitt, DBE, FREng, FIChemE, FCGI, Chair of Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) and Board member of HS2
18.50 Close
19.00 Drinks reception

We have limited in-person spaces available so please ensure you register in advance by 28 November 2022.

Abstract
In his talk, Professor Atula Abeysekera considers why there are so many world events that are mishandled or seem impossible to resolve and how a different approach should lead to better outcomes.

Currently there is only a limited appreciation of what “engineering thinking” is and how and why this particular form of systems thinking is so effective.

The need is to get senior members of the three pillars of decision making – policy makers, investors and engineers – working together in collaboration to bring about systemic and radical innovation to address the key challenges facing the world.

Professor Abeysekera explains how this might work and how re-assessing our own personal thinking structures can help too. He also describes Imperial’s own vision of how this can kickstart a co-ordinated approach to changing the way global leaders think and act.

Biography
Atula Abeysekera is the first Professor of Practice at the Department of Civil Engineering’s 144-year history. He graduated in engineering at Imperial and then became a Chartered Civil Engineer and, subsequently, a Chartered Accountant.

He focuses on high-quality teaching and research programmes relating to one or more of these aspects of infrastructure risk. His particular interest is in the practical understanding of managing extreme risks and developing resilience programmes. He has been an Advisor to the UK Government on managing Black Swan risks.

Professor Abeysekera has over 30 years of commercial experience at civil engineering (Mott MacDonald) and blue-chip financial institutions (Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, Lazard, Cazenove). Over the last 13 years he has worked as a senior risk officer at Schroders plc, a FTSE 100 company.

He is a member of the Industry SAFETY Steering Group for the UK Government specialising in risk and safety to drive forward the building safety programme recommended by Dame Hackitt following the Grenfell tragedy. He is a Treasurer of a Think Tank and advises the UK Cabinet Office on improvements to risk culture and resilience.

He was the Chairman of the Risk Forum Committee of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments from 2005 to 2015, Atula served as a Non-Executive Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers (Thomas Telford Ltd).

He has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London and Fellowship of the City and Guilds Institute. He is a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.

He is a graduate of the Department of Civil Engineering at Imperial College London, he was the past President of the City and Guilds College Association (‘CGCA’), which is the Alumnus Association of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London which has over 3500 members. He is a visiting professor at Universidad de Navarra, Spain.

Professor Abeysekera is a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation at the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London.

His passion outside of work is cricket, and he is a member of the MCC.

He is author of the book What’s the small idea

Getting here