Richard Kell AM

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Richard (Dick) Kell AM is one of Cardno’s most respected engineering thought leaders.

In 2020, we celebrate two momentous milestones; Cardno’s 75th anniversary and Dick Kell’s 60th year of dedicated service to the organisation. Dick joined Sydney based firm McMillan and Britton after he graduated in civil engineering in 1959, rose to be Managing Director and Chair of MBK, and then became Chair of Cardno MBK when Cardno and Davies and MBK merged in 1999.

Alongside the Cardno Managing Director and Board, in Dick’s role as Chair of Cardno (1999 to 2004), he significantly contributed to the growth and direction of the business; including the pivotal move to listing on the ASX in early 2004. Throughout his career, in addition to fulfilling his role in steering the firm as a Director, Dick has continued to work professionally as a Civil Engineer and Project Manager across major infrastructure engineering projects in the public and private sectors in Australia and internationally. 

Image of Cardno employee Richard Kell

In his long engineering career, spanning many countries, Dick has fulfilled key roles on many notable projectsThe most significant for him include: 

  • Malaysia: Sarawak Bridges | 42 bridges (1964 to 2005). This project included Batang Rajang, a 1.3km longbalanced cantilever and incremental launch bridge. Dick relocated to Sarawak to manage the investigation and design. 
  • Indonesia: Indonesian Steel Bridges Projects Approximately 3,000 bridges (1980 to 2000)
  • Australia: Peter Warren Motor Village, Warwick Farm Sydney (1980 to Present)
  • Australia: Bolte Bridge Melbourne (1999)
  • Vietnam: My Thuan Cable Stayed Bridge Vietnam (1998)
  • United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi Wastewater Treatment Plant (2005)
  • Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands: Physical Infrastructure - Road, Bridge and Marine Projects (2000 to Present) 

Dick has been an integral member of Cardno’s Physical Infrastructure team on major Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Pacific Islands’ road, bridges and marine projects, notably as Program Director on the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project (RMRP) and PMCs I don’t know what this stands for in PNG.

“Our Engineers and Development Professionals are uniquely placed to make a difference for people less fortunate than we are, and it is our obligation to aim for this objective”.

Cardno has named a global scholarship in Dicks honour (the Richard Kell Engineering Excellence Scholarship). This is in recognition and acknowledgement of his significant contributions to Cardno and the national and international engineering professionand in acknowledgement of his many years of service at the highest level. 

In 1998, Dick was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his contribution to engineering, particularly Bridge Engineering and International Affairs. Dick is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia (Engineers Australia). He was President of Consult Australia 1993 to 1995, and he currently serves on the Board of the Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, and until recently was Chair of the Warren Centre of Advanced Engineering at University of Sydney.

His many achievements include being appointed as a Board Member and then President of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) from 2003 to 2005 - an accomplishment of amplified significance as he was only the second Australian in 110 years to fill this role. As the FIDIC President, Dick visited and met with senior engineers in over 50 countries. He received the Institution of Engineers Australia’s John Connell Medal for Structural Engineering 2000, and an Australian Centenary Medal in 2003. At the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards in 2016, Dick was the recipient of Engineering Australia’s Premier award - the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal; and at the Association of Consulting Structural Engineers NSW Annual Awards in 2018, he received the Gold Medal Award for his outstanding contribution to the structural engineering profession. Whilst Chair of Cardno, Dick regularly featured on the Engineering Australia list of The Nation’s Most Influential Engineers. He expressed that he has always enormously enjoyed his career in engineering, in particular having the privilege of working on many great projects and with so many great people at Cardno.

He has always been a strong advocate of diversity and promoting gender equality, both within the firm and via our projects, including establishing Women in Construction. His role with FIDIC gave him the opportunity to introduce social safeguards and HIV-AIDS prevention measures into globally used FIDIC construction contracts, which continues to be of great benefit to people in local to infrastructure projects.

With Cardno, he was instrumental to initiating social infrastructure as a major component of our services, and is particularly proud that we are now a leader in the field of improving the lives of people in less-developed countries through both our social and physical infrastructure projects. Dick enjoys mentoring our new graduates and younger people, and challenging them to be innovative and outgoing.

We take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to Mr Richard (Dick) Kell AM for his 60 years of integral influence across Cardno, and his continuous contributions to the engineering profession and the Infrastructure Development sector.


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75 years of great people, 75 years of community-defining projects and 75 years of making a difference. Make sure you check out the other moments in our history!

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