Ray O’Rourke steps down as Laing O’Rourke CEO, Cathal O’Rourke appointed successor


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After five decades at the helm of Laing O’Rourke’s global operations, founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Ray O’Rourke KBE has announced his decision to step down from his role.

Ray, who established the business as a regional formwork and concrete specialist in 1977, has been a driving force in pushing for a more innovative, productive, and resilient construction sector.

Ray O’Rourke has long been a passionate advocate for the construction industry, leading continual investments in digital and manufacturing technologies to deliver projects faster, greener, more safely, and to higher standards. He has also been dedicated to developing and promoting talented engineers and project delivery specialists, championing the workforce of the industry.

Although stepping down as CEO, Ray will continue to serve on the Group Board as Deputy Chair, alongside his brother and partner Des. In his new role, Ray will chair the Board Nomination committee, drive innovation in construction methods, and be available to the Group CEO for meetings with key customers, stakeholders, and to provide mentoring and advice.

“This is a key transitional milestone for Laing O’Rourke as the business moves from a founder-led organization into the next generation of leadership for the Group,” the company stated. The Board, fully aware of the significance of this moment, has unanimously approved the appointment of Cathal O’Rourke as the new Group Chief Executive Officer, effective from July 1, 2024.

Cathal, a graduate civil engineer, has held various operational and leadership roles within the company, including Managing Director in Australia and, most recently, Group Chief Operating Officer. He is a respected industry leader who has driven change across the sector, having served as President of the Australian Constructors’ Association (ACA) and played a pivotal role in the Construction Industry Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce.

Commenting on his appointment, Cathal said, “I am truly honoured to be trusted with the leadership of our business and our people, and I am committed to continuing to work with our clients, delivery partners, and all other stakeholders to lead positive change. Together we can continue to drive forward on our mission to transform our sector into a more sustainable and productive industry, embracing new and innovative ways of doing things, whilst at the same time, providing our people with safe, challenging, and rewarding careers.”

Ray O’Rourke expressed his confidence in his son’s leadership, stating, “I am delighted to be in a position to hand over the reins of CEO to my son and our Group COO, Cathal O’Rourke. I am incredibly proud of our people and what we have achieved as a business. We have maintained a commitment to transform our industry, and our people are recognized for their ability to deliver complex engineering projects using advanced and sophisticated techniques across the globe.

Cathal has enjoyed a successful career in our family business, spanning a quarter of a century and I have every confidence he will continue to lead our people well into the future, upholding the values and guiding principles that have been the foundation of our success.”

Sir John Parker GBE FREng also commented on the leadership change, saying, “At this time of major transition in the leadership of the Group we are fortunate to have such a well-qualified and talented successor to Ray in Cathal.

The Board has every confidence in Cathal’s leadership qualities, accumulated experience, his commitment to modernising the industry and his alignment with Laing O’Rourke’s values of care, integrity, and courage. We salute the unique creativity of Ray’s leadership in building the Group and its culture that we know today. We are fortunate that he will continue to serve providing ongoing guidance and mentorship.”

This leadership transition marks a significant moment for Laing O’Rourke as the company prepares for a new era under Cathal O’Rourke’s guidance while continuing to benefit from Ray O’Rourke’s invaluable experience and visionary leadership.

Source: Laing O’Rourke

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