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After 12 years Harleigh Luscombe has had his passport stamped for the last time as International Projects General Manager for UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation company.

A qualified and experienced construction engineer, Mr Luscombe joined UniQuest in 1998, when UQ’s involvement in the international aid sector via UniQuest was gaining momentum. Under his management, UniQuest has become the leading university-based provider of project management services to such globally recognised organisations as AusAID, NZAID, various United Nations agencies, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Over the past decade UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa. These programs have helped communities build the capacity to become self-sufficient in such areas as governance, education and training, natural resource management and rural development, community and private sector development, and the environment.

In 2009 alone, 92 consultants were mobilised to work on 25 projects in 24 countries. Mr Luscombe was also instrumental in the drafting of UQ’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Libyan Alternative and Solar Energy Research Centre to fund various projects through UniQuest, including investment in solar energy infrastructure at the St Lucia campus and on a replica site in Libya. 

In the early years of his career Mr Luscombe travelled widely, developing a passion for giving the poorest people in the world opportunities to improve their villages, making it possible for them to become self-determining communities. In management roles he also became involved with trade development, government liaison and international relations.

Mr Luscombe’s extensive experience and networks helped to expand UniQuest’s portfolio and introduce university-based expertise to more communities seeking to build their economic, social and environmental strengths.

“If I think about my time at UniQuest, the most successful contributing factors have been the people and working within a university environment. We have firmly established an annual Best Practice Award to recognise the achievements of our international consultants. Staff now spend most of their time on direct client paid work, which importantly includes all of our younger professionals. UniQuest is also in a good place, having recently filled some key management staff positions for future growth,” Mr Luscombe said.

“At UniQuest and The University of Queensland, we have been able to differentiate ourselves from both our public and private sector competitors. Exceptional staff and access to appropriate and committed technical expertise has resulted in a proven track record for our international development assistance services. Over time, this has enhanced our reputation as a university owned company to the extent that most of our new work is repeat business.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working at UniQuest. Watching the successful project outcomes and the development of staff was very rewarding personally. With ongoing support from UQ's Vice Chancellor, UniQuest's Board and Managing Director, I look forward to hearing of further growth and success of the company."

UniQuest’s Managing Director, David Henderson, said Mr Luscombe’s term as a senior member of the company staff was characterised by an energetic, hands-on approach.

“Harleigh has visited all the places where UniQuest programs are in place so he could understand first-hand what the challenges might be for the project teams involved,” said Mr Henderson.

“At the same time his administrative skills kept this division of the business profitable, each year making a substantial contribution to UniQuest’s bottom line.

“While other University international aid groups have closed down, been sold or just faded away, under Harleigh’s leadership, UniQuest is now the largest and strongest University-owned international aid business.

“As we farewell him with best wishes for the future, we are keenly aware of how much his sense of humour, vigour and unique style will be missed.”

Mr Luscombe began long service leave in March and, aside from handing over current work associated with some new project initiatives in Libya, he will officially retire in June 2010.