Leadership Team

John Kirkwood Managing Director and CEO

John Kirkwood


John is a highly regarded senior construction professional in the engineering and building construction industries. With his unique combination of technical and commercial skills, John was previously Executive General Manager at Leighton Contractors, and held senior roles within Abigroup Contractors, including four years as National Operations Director responsible for all business operations across Australia. John has over 20 years' experience in site-based roles and 21 years in senior managerial positions. John has extensive experience providing leadership from conception to execution, consistently delivering to tight budget and time constraints, and producing significant revenue and profit growth across business units. John has a keen focus on maintaining relationships across the industry, equally comfortable in boardrooms and in the field.

Nicola Padget


Nicola Padget joined Seymour Whyte in late September 2013 as Chief Financial Officer and brings a broad range of experience and capability to the group. Nicola has worked for Peabody/Macarthur Coal in the roles of Director - Financial Accounting and Director - Finance and Financial Controller. Prior to this, Nicola worked at Consolidated Rutile Limited as Financial Controller and KPMG within the Audit and Risk team. Nicola holds a Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Finance and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia.

Des Rowley Group Safety Manager

Des Rowley


Des is a passionate and experienced safety professional who joined Seymour Whyte in May 2013 as National Safety Manager. Des' experience in safety across major industry sectors (building and civil construction, electrical, telecommunications, water, mining and tunnelling) comes from 10 years in safety leadership roles, 25 years in construction, and a trade background. Des also holds tertiary qualifications in health and safety, and auditing. Des has previously held senior safety roles within John Holland, United Group and Abigroup.

Alanna Herbst


Alanna brings close to 20 years’ senior and executive management experience across multiple industries, including banking and insurance, water infrastructure and tourism. In her most recent roles as RACQ’s Head of Human Resources Operations and Seqwater’s People & Culture Manager, Alanna oversaw transformative cultural change projects that ensured strategic alignment and delivered more than $20 million in operational cost savings. She also has a history of community and communications management. Alanna holds a Bachelor of Business, Business Management & Human Resource Management and is a Professional Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.

Sam Paakki Group Information Systems Manager

Sam Paakki


Sam has a track record of 25 years’ successful delivery of ICT solutions and services, gained both in Australia and internationally at leading companies across various sectors including Downer, Fujitsu, RACQ and Goodman Fielder. Sam joined the Seymour Whyte Group in June 2016, where his extensive experience in IT service and project management, operational technologies and business process management has been instrumental in strengthening the business’s IT framework. Sam holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Information Technology and a Bachelor of Information Technology; his certifications include ITIL Intermediate, Prince2 Practitioner, Business Relationship Management and Agile (Scrum Master).

Matt Kilpatrick General Counsel

Matt Kilpatrick


Matt has 28 years’ experience in the infrastructure, construction and property industries and holds degrees in Construction Management and Law as well as a Graduate Certificate in Business (Finance). He has extensive skills and experience in development, project and contract management and commercial analysis, dealing with the commercial aspects of engineering, construction, resources, services and property projects. Since 2005, Matt has held key senior management positions including as Group Manager – Commercial of FKG Group, General Manager – Commercial of the Western Division of Tenix (now Downer Tenix) and Commercial Manager QLD/NT of Bovis Lend Lease (now Lendlease). 

Steve Davies-Evans National Pre-Contracts Manager

Steve Davies-Evans


As National Pre-Contracts Manager, Steve is instrumental in driving the work-winning process for all Seymour Whyte bids. His in-depth understanding of the company's target markets and industry trends enables Steve to identify new opportunities and lead his team in accurately assessing risk and developing competitive Value for Money offers. Steve has grown his career with Seymour Whyte since 1994. After completing his degree in Civil Engineering in the United Kingdom in 1982, Steve had an extensive career working on a range of complex civil infrastructure projects in the UK and Australia before moving into estimating and bid management.

Will MacDonald Operations Manager - Northern, Seymour Whyte Constructions

Will MacDonald


During Will’s two decades in the construction industry, he has been involved with a wide range of projects including the $240 million Pacific Highway Upgrade (Brunswick to Yelgun) and the award-winning $1.95 billion Ipswich Motorway Upgrade (Dinmore to Goodna). Will’s proven successes on past projects has seen him advance to senior corporate leadership roles at companies such as Abigroup and later, Lend Lease. As Seymour Whyte Constructions’ Operations Manager – Northern Region since January 2014, Will has been able to utilise his extensive experience to deliver the best possible outcome for clients. He has a strong knowledge and understanding of engineering and safety issues, and the ability to transfer this knowledge into project planning and design processes to achieve sustainable, value for money results.

Steve Lambert Regional Manager - Southern, Seymour Whyte Constructions

Steve Lambert


Steve has led operations of Seymour Whyte's Southern Region (NSW and VIC) since December 2014. With 25 years of construction industry experience, he brings strong leadership and strategic planning qualities, combined with an extensive knowledge of contract types and a well-developed commercial and risk management acumen. Prior to joining Seymour Whyte Constructions, Steve was the General Manager of Ditchfield Contracting and was responsible for pre-contracting, systems support, operations and project delivery. He also worked for nine years with Tier 1 contractor Abigroup, where he was Operations Manager – NSW/ACT and held leadership positions on major projects including the $320 million Banora Point Upgrade Alliance, $300 million Kooragang Coal Export Terminal, $190 million Northern Busway Alliance and $547 million Tugun Bypass Alliance.