”Those who can, build. Those who can’t, criticize,” was a famous line of the late Robert Moses. Although he never held elected office, Moses charted the course of urban planning and development of New York City for the best part of the twentieth century. For those too young to remember, or too far from the Big Apple to have lived its transformations during Moses´ long trajectory as the eminence grise of New York City government, I recommend Robert Caro´s monumental biography, a visit to New York Transit Museum’s exhibition The Triborough Bridge: Robert Moses and the Automobile Age, on view until April, 2008, or at least a quick scan of his 1981 New York Times obituary.
It was Moses’ “cherished ambition… to weave together the loose strands and frayed edges of New York’s arterial tapestry,” according to the transit authority press release for the exhibition, a sentiment that could be used to describe Sweden based multinational corporation Skanska AB´s relationship to the same city. Just as few people identified Moses as the man behind the changing landscape of New York from the 1930s to the 1960s, few people today would relate the name of Skanska with the renovation of the Lexington / 53rd St. subway station, The World Trade Center transportation hub project at Ground Zero or the transformation of the FDR Drive. In the most recent issue of its own company magazine, “Worldwide”, the company suggests that, “Skanska could well be New York’s best kept secret,” and lists no less than 27 Skanska projects in the greater New York area.
Skanska is perhaps the best kept secret of New York but it is also one of the world’s most responsible and transparent corporate giants. It was the first construction-related company in the world to extend ISO 14001 environmental certification throughout its entire global operations, no small feat, with over 80,000 employees located throughout approximately 60 countries. That was in 2001, at a cost of over 10 million dollars. In 2005, when a list of the 100 Most Sustainable Global Corporations was established, Skanska was the only corporation in the construction sector to make the list.
Although its role in transforming the infrastructure of the Big Apple is as significant as Moses´ was in his time, its projects in New York represent only 1% of Skanka´s business worldwide. In fact, none of its vast projects in New York is its largest. The most ambitious Skanska endeavor to date is being developed with the British National Health System in London, a projected ten-year development project involving the Saint Bartholomew’s and Royal London medical centers.
For those of you thinking, “Why don’t I work for a company like that?” maybe you could. The company has an in-house promotion policy, but a bright new MBA in responsible business theory might get you a foot in the door of the recruiter’s office.