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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Ben Wilson

Business

South Australian urban engineer Ben Wilson has more than 15 years of experience successfully developing roads, networks and pathways that move people.

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Wilson is the founder and director of urban mobility and traffic engineering consulting firm CIRQA.

Wilson completed a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Adelaide before completing a Master of Engineering at the University of South Australia.

Following his education, he worked as a casual research assistant at the University of South Australia before being employed in numerous traffic engineering rolls.

Four years ago, Wilson combined this accumulated experience from academic, local government and private counselling environments to found his business – CIRQA.

CIRQA offers consulting services to help clients navigate design and movement networks.

The firm works with developers, architects, urban designers, town planners and government authorities to ensure projects achieve safety, efficiency and sustainability targets.

CIRQA provides research, policy, planning and design advice, and a range of bespoke services such as road safety auditing, peer reviews, pedestrian and cyclist facility design and more.

Wilson has led his start-up company from a fledgling enterprise to one of the top traffic engineering firms in South Australia.

This month, he was named in InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

That communication breeds clarity and clarity breeds confidence. I am as open and honest to my staff as I can be and this feeds into a key component of our company culture, and we hire people who we believe exhibit this trait. That same focus on communication and clarity within our staff applies to our relationships with clients and collaborators.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

Six degrees of separation (or less!) certainly applies in South Australia and in our industry this means that everybody knows everybody. It’s easy to form strong relationships in South Australia and if you are doing the right thing by people you’ll go far.

We have great lifestyle offerings in South Australia for all ages which continue to improve. While achieving a work-life balance is a challenge anywhere, I believe it’s easier here than interstate, particularly with lower commute times leaving more time for work and play.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

There’s a resistance to change in South Australia that feels stronger than other states. This is particularly apparent in the development industry. Along with excessive red tape, this slows progress and in some instances means we miss out on great opportunities altogether.

South Australia’s small population presents a limited talent pool, particularly for the niche area I work in. The interstate brain drain simply worsens this issue and it’s difficult to entice interstaters here if they have no prior connection to the state.

While it doesn’t have a major direct impact on my business, our remote location is also a barrier, particularly for trade and tourism. It just means we need to focus harder on our strengths and I feel South Australians are already good at this, but there’s always room for improvement.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

While I love seeing how other cities and towns tick and relish opportunities to work interstate and overseas, Adelaide will always be home to me. I love living in Adelaide and feel no other Australian city provides such great lifestyle opportunities: great wine, great food, great natural environments, great sports, plus it’s the best place to raise a young family.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

I think we need to accept that there will always be a proportion of young people who’ll get bitten with the wanderlust bug and leave South Australia. So for South Australians, the focus needs to be on bringing them back after a few years. However, we also need to consider opportunities to entice more young people originating from outside of South Australia to move here.

Continued improvements in our social, sporting and cultural offerings along with a focus on innovation have us heading in the right direction particularly with the recent signing of the Adelaide City Deal. The opportunity to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games could provide another avenue to boost investment in the State and increase our soft power offerings.

From my own expertise, I believe improved public transport services and a much greater focus on the provision of safe, connected cycling infrastructure will also add to our lifestyle and attractiveness.

To see the full list of 40 winners, go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

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