panel speaking at the 10th business opportunities fair 2019
Antti Inkinen, Interim Director of NIRAS Asia-Pacific represented NIRAS on the panel

Understanding and partnership are key: NIRAS tips on working with the ADB

At a panel on doing business with the Asian Development Bank, NIRAS's interim Asia-Pacific Director Antti Inkinen outlined our strategic approach

28. Mar 2019

As a representative of the number one Nordic service provider to the Asian Development Bank (ABD), Antti Inkinen, interim Regional Director of NIRAS Asia-Pacific and Director of NIRAS Finland joined a select group of consulting firms in a high-level panel “Doing Business with the ADB—Lessons and Case Studies” during the ADB’s 10th Business Opportunities Fair on 27 March 2019.

In the past few years, NIRAS has completed 25 ADB projects and is currently implementing 10, mostly in Southeast Asia in the area of natural resource management, agriculture, energy, environmental protection, and climate change. We were invited to the panel to discuss our experiences as one of the ADB’s top consulting firms based on the value of contracts awarded over the last five years.

Asked how NIRAS approaches the ADB’s new procurement framework, Antti was positive about the emphasis being placed on quality. “We welcome the procurement rules and Strategy 2030 very strongly. These are very much in line with our corporate ethics and values as well as our expertise. The focus on quality in the procurement process, particularly the 90:10 (90% quality/10% price) rule gives more space to consultants but also challenges us to come up with more innovative solutions.

“And then of course the move toward more Integrated and sustainable approaches, including gender and climate, is absolutely key. I believe we are in a very good position to continue to deliver strong results.” 

Antti Inkinen speaking on the "Doing Business with the ADB—Lessons and Case Studies" panel 

Moderated by Cathy Yang, Managing Editor of ABS-CBN News Channel, the panel also heard from Ashraf Mohammed, Deputy Director General for Procurement, Portfolio, and Financial Management Department at the ADB, Elvira Ablaza, President and CEO of PRIMEX, Guillaume Genin, VP Business Development for Systra Canada, Lesley Chazel, Business Development Director for EGIS International, Matthew Kane, Director of Business Development for Sheladia Associates, and Philippe Anton Ricafort, Business Development Manager for Cardno Emerging Markets.

During the open forum, the panelists were asked about strategies and tips on how to prepare for and win ADB contracts. Antti discussed how the company’s slogan “We Listen, We Learn, We Deliver” guides the organisation every step of the way. He emphasised the importance of maintaining a local presence and NIRAS’s network of offices, six of which are in Asia, in understanding better beneficiaries’ needs, country contexts, and the sector and counterparts’ requirements. “With the new procurement framework you need to innovate much more, adding new content that has been pre-determined in the design phase,” Antti explained. “There needs to be fluid communication and collaboration with all the parties involved, especially within NIRAS as we tap into our resources around the globe.”

After hearing from other panelists and their recommendations for ‘how to get in the ADB door’, Antti also recommended that consultants understand the rules and regulations, the guidelines of ADB and its operating context. “After that, getting in, I think it’s being early and working in partnerships. We work extensively with local and international partners and increasingly local experts. These must be of high technical and ethical standard, this is absolutely critical for us.”

Joining Antti from NIRAS were Andre Ban, Country Director of NIRAS Cambodia, War War Hlaing of NIRAS Myanmar, Claes Clifford, NIRAS Director for Water and Slobodan Novkovic, interim Country Manager of Philippines and his colleagues Vivienne Zerrudo and Ranie Catimbang.

The fair was organised into various sessions covering procurements processes and business opportunities in different ADB sector and thematic areas, and business opportunities for institutions and NGOs/CSOs. Consultants and firms also had the chance to discuss with ADB Project and Procurement Officers on issues related to procurement.

The 10th ADB Business Opportunities Fair was held from 26-27 March 2018 in ADB Headquarters Manila attended by over 1800 individuals from consulting firms, individual consultants, multilateral banks, NGOs/CSOs, academia and other organizations engaged in development cooperation.

To hear the full panel, you can watch this video.