Remembering engineering great, Menno Henneveld

Engineers Australia looks back on the life of Menno Henneveld AM AM FATSE FAICD Hon FIEAust, former National Professional Engineer of the Year and Main Roads WA Commissioner.
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// Menno Henneveld (left) as Managing Director of Main Roads celebrating the award of an Engineering Heritage Marker to Perth’s Causeway Bridges with Engineering Heritage WA.

Aged 75, Menno Henneveld AM FATSE FAICD Hon FIEAust passed away in Nedlands Western Australia.

As a fierce contributor to the engineering profession, the Western Australian division of Engineers Australia looks back on Henneveld’s life and achievements. His strong sense of values and vision and inspirational leadership has influenced many in the WA division and left lasting contribution to the state.

This obituary commemorates Henneveld’s distinguished career in the construction, water and transport industries in WA and his impact nationally and internationally.

In 1958, Henneveld first arrived in WA as the son of a Dutch immigrant, of who he recounts his strong moral values for integrity stem from. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Western Australia in 1969 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Administration from Curtin University in 1973.

Henneveld started his career through a Public Works Department of WA cadetship, which began an almost 40-year long service to WA’s water industry. This included significant leadership roles with the WA Water Corporation such as GM Engineering Services, GM Customer Service; GM Commercial and Group Director, Major Developments. He later became the Chair of Energy Water Ombudsman Western Australia.

In 2002, he was appointed as Commissioner of Main Roads Western Australia, providing ten years of strong leadership for the State’s $1.7 billion per annum road agency. Henneveld was responsible for delivering more than $6 billion of road infrastructure projects, $5.5 billion of road services, and for managing the state’s 18,000 kilometre and $42 billion road network.

For his outstanding service to Public Works Engineering in WA he was awarded the Dr. Ken Michael Gold Medal.

He held many international, national and state positions, including inaugural Chairman, Australasian Society Trenchless Technology; Chairman, International Society Trenchless Technology; Chairman Austroads; Australia's First Delegate, World Road Association (WRA); Chair, WRA International Relations Communications Commission; currently a Vice President of the WRA; Past Board Member, Australian Road Research Board; Founder and past Chair, ROADS Foundation (Road Industry Traineeships); Chair, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Implementation Board; currently Independent Director, Infrastructure Sustainability Council Australia.

In 2012, Henneveld was awarded as both the WA Professional Engineer and the National Professional Engineer of the Year, a prestigious award recognising the highest technical, professional and community standards in engineering. In 2015, he was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Henneveld’s contribution to the WA Division in recent years included judging the WA entries to the Australia Engineering Excellence Awards on numerous occasions and in 2018, taking on the role of Chief Judge.

He had a strong focus on customer service, building relationships and creating a values-based decision making-culture which saw him lead impact when faced with the challenges infrastructure agencies have faced. When discussing his largest achievements in a 2018 interview with Engineering Heritage Australia, he stated that:

“I think that’s something that sort of reflects the success I’ve had in my career is that I’ve always worked with really good people, and I guess my skill hasn’t been so much an engineering skill but getting the best out of people…”

Henneveld will be remembered for his strategic vision, his clear sense of purpose, and a people-centric approach to engineering.

Image: Menno Henneveld (left) as Managing Director of Main Roads celebrating the award of an Engineering Heritage Marker to Perth’s Causeway Bridges with Engineering Heritage WA.


View the full transcript of the interview with Menno Henneveld (PDF) conducted by Doug Ayre in 2018 for the Engineering Heritage Australia’s oral history project.