LMBa Spotlight:

10 MAY 2024

Meet the 2022 winners of the HSBC Award for Excellence in International Business, Chris Paterson, Senior Principal of Populous, and how winning this award at the Lord Mayor Business Awards advance their business.

After global architecture and design firm Populous was awarded the contract for the Sydney Olympic Stadium in 1999, the strong skill set brought together for this ground-breaking project was eventually transferred to the Brisbane market, where the company chose to locate its Asia Pacific headquarters.

Awarded the Lord Mayor’s Business Award (LMBA) in 2022 for Excellence in International Business, Populous employs 200 staff – with all work in the APAC region managed from Brisbane.

Senior Principal and Director Chris Paterson, an inner-west Brisbane local, joined Populous in 2000 and his first project was the iconic Suncorp Stadium.

“Designing places where people love to come together, and observing the significance major infrastructures have in local communities, is incredibly rewarding,” Chris said “The pride you feel when it is part of your own neighbourhood, and you can share it with your family, is particularly satisfying.”

For 23 years, Chris has been part of an exceptional Brisbane-based team, exporting creative and professional services throughout Asia Pacific. With much of the talent grown and nurtured in Brisbane, the Populous portfolio of work is both impressive and significant.

“While most people are familiar with our projects and venues around the world, local awareness of our business was comparatively low,” Chris said. “Winning the LMBA provided us with a platform to leverage that, and connect with locals.”

Populous Team accepting LMBA award.
Populous, Lord Mayor Business Awards 2022

Designing major infrastructure in communities involves years of planning and relationship building, sometimes over decades. Often propelled by major events, it involves working predominantly with all levels of government.

“Through opportunities facilitated by the Lord Mayor’s office in initiating strategic partnerships and fostering international networks, we have built relationships that have assisted us in delivering internationally recognised projects,” Chris said.

“And locally we have benefited, too. At the 2022 LMBA event, we heard on the night of another great Brisbane business, Pakko. At the time, we were in urgent need of some custom-made boxes for a VVIP meeting coming up in Japan. After an introduction by the BEDA team, we contacted Pakko, who were fantastic and went out of their way to meet our very tight deadline.”

When asked to name the key to Populous’s success as an exporter, Chris noted several factors.

“Having a flexible mindset and being open to all sorts of challenges, then being the business that pivots and changes as required, is fundamental to our success,” he said. “As an exporter, understanding and being respectful of local cultures is paramount. We spend a lot of time understanding the market we are pitching in. We bring in our key capabilities and mix them with our local capabilities.

“We also set criteria for every project, then our management team meets to decide whether we pursue it or not. We question every proposition, as you can spend a lot of time and money pursuing a lead that isn’t for you.”

Brisbane remains the ideal base location for Populous. With a local council that is well respected and active in the region, coupled with easy access to the APAC markets, it is the lifestyle that Chris favours most.

“Brisbane’s lifestyle is phenomenal and I’m excited about where the city is going,” he said. “The more cultural and creative our liveable and walkable city becomes, the more likely we can retain talent, and keep our young future talent here.”

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