5 Minutes with ADCO’s Judith Brinsmead

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In the lead-up to Urbanity, on August 3-5 at The Star on the Gold Coast, The Urban Developer sat down with ADCO Constructions chairman Judith Brinsmead to discuss construction market trends, ADCO’s business model and its projects as well as the importance of conferences like Urbanity.

Brinsmead will join MaxCap Group’s Bill McWilliams and Jason Huljich of Centuria Capital as part of a panel discussing their views for the future of Australia’s property industry on Thursday August 4.

How has ADCO Constructions established and maintained such a successful business model?

“Without revealing the inner secrets to our success, I will say what has been published – which is that ADCO aspires to be the builder of choice for our clients, our consultants, our contractors, and our people. 

What is key in my business is the people of ADCO, and that we are aligned in our values, including quality, timely and efficient delivery of projects for our clients, and our commitments to ourselves, each other, and the community.

Three key trends you are witnessing within the construction industry?

“First. A realisation that contractual fairness between builders, and clients and a willingness to openly balance and share risks in construction contracts will lead to improved productivity and reduced construction costs.

Or put another way, to move from the environment of ‘misaligned contractual and incentive structures’ which leads to ‘hostility and change orders rather than productive and trusted collaboration’. Smarter and more progressive clients are being active in this space and will see the benefits not only for their projects but for the industry as a whole.

Second. Leading construction companies are providing a more holistic service to clients with the ever-increasing use of D&C contracting and Early Contractor Involvement. This will continue to add and grow the traditional capabilities and services offered under the umbrella of construction.

Third. Construction companies, together with clients have a real need to implement ESG policies that are meaningful, identifiable, attainable and viable at a time when the global landscape (let alone the Australian landscape) has limited plans, and renewables remain in their infancy.

Good governance and strong social commitments are equally as important, and I think the more progressive construction companies will continue to step up in this space. 

What do you, or ADCO Constructions, focus far more time on now, than five years ago?

People, purpose and productivity. Working to a defined strategy. The legislative requirements of being in business.

What existing partnership, project or initiative best represents ADCO?

When the industry is at its best and there is real trust and collaboration between clients and builders we see reduced cost of procurement, efficiency in building, an improved quality of product and a benefit to the wider community and society. 

An example of this for ADCO is our 20-year relationship with Bond University where we have built over 20 projects together.

Three people on your radar that are doing exceptional work in the built environment?

Lang Walker, due to his ability to grow his family business into Australia’s leading long-term private developer. 

His vision of Collins Square in Melbourne, the creation of a city within Parramatta, and his foresight in creating Kokomo (which saw development of an internationally acclaimed international tourism destination in Fiji while providing wholistic support to the local Fijian community and leading environmental practices) are just a few of Lang’s great business achievements.

Tim Gurner, for his marketing genius—backed up by of course by the quality of projects he provides. 

Looking internally, Richard Carmont, ADCO’s former Managing Director who is now the Chair of Arklife. Through Arklife, Richard is leading one of Australia’s most innovative build-to-rent businesses, with three developments within its portfolio and growing.

An inspiring book, research paper you’ve read or presentation you’ve attended recently?

Two books, not ‘inspirational’ as such, but definitely worth reading and gifting. Firstly, the 2019 release of Invisible Women by Caroline Perez. It’s an insight into the data bias gap that exists in our world, which has been designed in the past by and for men. 

It gives practical examples on why gender diversity is critical in all workplaces, otherwise we will continue to develop buildings, plant and equipment that is unsuitable for 50 per cent of our population.

Secondly, a thought-provoking children’s book published in 1988, Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker. This storey is set in the Daintree in FNQ. It is a wonderful and simple encouragement to children, through art and words, to consider the impact humans have on the environment.

Why do you think it is important to have conferences like Urbanity?

“Urbanity’s important in order to foster an industry where there is real collaboration. This improves trust between businesses and therefore efficiency in building, and the wider community and society will benefit as a result. 

The coming together of business leaders to share knowledge and experience inspires successful business practices across the industry. I am looking forward to sharing and learning from different voices at Urbanity.

Of the vast array of speakers presenting at Urbanity who are you most looking forward to hearing from?

Robert Hamilton AM, the co-founder of Mirvac, especially as Mirvac celebrates 50 years in business. I can’t wait to hear his incredible story.


Join us as Urbanity brings together an unrivalled roster of the industry’s best developers, architects, place-makers, innovators and property professionals. 

Urbanity is a must-attend event for anyone that is involved in the development of cities and regions.