We talked to Fred Gennaoui, National Specialist Traffic & Transport Planning at Stanec and proud Life Member of the AITPM
I was born in Heliopolis (city of the Sun) a suburb on the outskirt of Cairo, Egypt; not too far from the Pyramids. The first 19 years of his life coincided with a revolution in 1952 and two wars (with Israel in 1956 and 1967). The De La Salle Brothers educated me in between playing football (here soccer) and indoor volley ball (my year 12 team won the gold medal of the republic). In 1967, I was admitted to Cairo University for an Engineering Degree. In 1968, I migrated to Australia with my family where I joined the University of NSW to undertake a Mechanical Engineering Degree. In 1970, I was awarded a cadetship with the then Department of Motor Transport. I graduated with Honours in 1973, at which time I enrolled in a Master in Transportation & Traffic Planning.
In July 1973, I joined Sinclair Knight & Partners as a traffic engineer. In 1976 I was appointed traffic signal construction engineer with the Department of Main Roads), following which I joined Lyle Marchall & Associates as Senior Traffic Engineer.
In February 1980 I started my own traffic engineering consultancy. Since then TEC Consulting Pty Ltd build up a very good reputation in traffic management and transportation planning. In July 1996, TEC (~12 employees) was sold to PPK E&I, where I was appointed Principal, Traffic & Transport. In October 1999, I decided to go solo once again.
In 2015, I sold my business to the Traffic Design Group (TDG) of New Zealand. TDG was then acquired by Stantec in 2018.
What first attracted you to get involved in the transport industry?
My first introduction to Traffic and Transport when it was suggested in 1973, to enrol for a Master in Transportation & Traffic Planning (completed at the end of 1974).
My first real job in the field was when I joined Sinclair Knight & Partners in July 1973, as a traffic engineer. I have been practicing in the Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning field since then.
Could you explain some key opportunities in your career and how they contributed to your development?
As principal of FR Gennaoui and Associates, I won in February 1980 my first job with Concord Council to prepare a Road Hierarchy Study for the Municipality. This job was the catalyst for a career which continues to date.
What has been your involvement with AITPM to date?
Bruce Sinclair, a foundation (and now a life) member of the institute introduced me to the then Australian Institute of Traffic Technology in 1974 when I joined. In 1976 I joined the management committee. Since then I have been on either a National or State Branch committee.
In the mid to late seventies, the then Institute of Traffic Technology was an obscure group firmly anchored in Sydney. Its membership was dwindling every year, and came very close to folding in 1979. At that time, the Institute had no drawing power and no credibility to stamp itself as an organization to which someone would want to belong.
Realising its potential demise, with a very small group of enthusiastic members, we embarked against the better judgment of most members of the management committee in reshaping the Institute. On first of July 1981, the Institute changed its name to the one its proudly displays today. Since then, I held the following AITPM positions:
1981-1983, Foundation President of renamed Institute.
1983-1987, Vice President
1987-1992 National President
1992-1994 Past President
1994 – 2002 Special Project Officer National Council
2003 – Convenor National conference
2005-2007 NSW State Branch President
2007-2009 NSW State Branch Past President
2009- 2020 Committee member NSW Branch
2019-2021 Board Director representing NSW
I also spearheaded the drive for the Institute in other states; I have thus presided over the charter of the South Australian, NSW and Queensland branches. I was awarded a Life Membership of the AITPM in 1994.
What are your aspirations for your contribution to the AITPM Board?
Together with all members of the Board, ensure that the Institute not only continues to grow in numbers but to also provide a beacon for all those in the profession. I would like to pursue as a goal for State and Federal Government to require membership of the AITPM a prerequisite for employment in the transport planning and traffic engineering fields.
What have been some memorable moments in your career?
Whilst overseeing a growing business and building up the Institute, I managed to get elected as a Councillor on Hornsby Shire Council (1980-1987), and to join Rotary International (1980-1995). In November 1995, I was awarded by the Roads & Traffic Authority, the Road Safety Visionary Award, for my contribution to the RTA/Rotary Road Safety 2000 Project.
Is there a challenge/problem that you have experienced in your career and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was during the 1993-94 recession when I had 8 employees and the company was about to fold, even though we had a good backlog of work. Following discussion with the staff we all decided to work harder on weekends with no overtime. This situation lasted between 4 to 6 months after which we picked up lots of work associated with the 2000 Olympic games. Back to be a profitable company, Rust-PPK suggested we merge with them in 1996.
What are your personal and/or professional career plans for the future?
At my age, my ambition is to retire within the next two years. Until then it is to mentor as many young professionals as I can.
Do you have any advice you would like to share to professionals in the transport/traffic industry?
If you enjoy what you are doing, you will excel.
What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
Like to read, watch TV, going to the movies and travelling when possible again.