A statement from our Chair, Sir John Parker GBE FREng


After five decades at the helm of Laing O’Rourke’s global operations, our founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Ray O’Rourke KBE has advised the Board of his decision to step down from the role.

Ray, who founded the business as a regionally based formwork and concrete specialist in 1977, has been at the forefront of driving a more innovative, productive, and resilient sector since the beginning.

He is a passionate advocate for the construction industry and has led a continual investment in digital and manufacturing technologies to deliver projects quicker, greener, more safely and to a higher standard.

With a passion for developing and promoting talented engineers and project delivery specialists, he is also a champion of the people who come to work in our industry every day.

Ray will continue to serve on the Group Board as a Deputy Chair, alongside his brother and partner Des. He will Chair the Board Nomination committee, drive innovation in construction methods, and be available to the Group CEO to meet with key customers, stakeholders and to provide mentoring and advice.

This is a key transitional milestone for Laing O’Rourke as the business moves from a founder-led organisation into the next generation of leadership for the Group.

The Board, conscious of the significance of this moment for the business, has considered the leadership decision carefully. As a result, the Board has unanimously approved the appointment of Cathal O’Rourke as the new Group Chief Executive Officer effective from 1 July 2024.

Cathal, who is a graduate civil engineer, has served in various operational and leadership roles in both of the organisation’s operating hubs, including Managing Director in Australia and most recently, Group Chief Operating Officer.

He is a well-respected industry leader who has led change across the industry, serving as President of the Australian Constructors’ Association (ACA), and was at the forefront of the sector’s transition to more collaborative contracting.

He also played a significant role on both the Construction Industry Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce, which brought government and industry together to improve the procurement and delivery of infrastructure programmes, as well as industry culture.

Commenting on his appointment, Cathal said:

“I am truly honoured to be trusted with the leadership of our business and our people, and I am committed to continuing to work with our clients, delivery partners and all other stakeholders to lead positive change.

“Together we can continue to drive forward on our mission to transform our sector into a more sustainable and productive industry, embracing new and innovative ways of doing things, whilst at the same time, providing our people with safe, challenging and rewarding careers.”

Commenting on his decision to hand over the role of CEO and assume a new position on the Group Board, Ray said:

“I am delighted to be in a position to hand over the reins of CEO to my son and our Group COO, Cathal O’Rourke.

“I am incredibly proud of our people and what we have achieved as a business.
“We have maintained a commitment to transform our industry, and our people are recognised for their ability to deliver complex engineering projects using advanced and sophisticated techniques across the globe.

“Cathal has enjoyed a successful career in our family business, spanning a quarter of a century and I have every confidence he will continue to lead our people well into the future, upholding the values and guiding principles that have been the foundation of our success.”

Commenting on the change in leadership at Laing O'Rourke, Sir John Parker GBE FREng said:

“At this time of major transition in the leadership of the Group we are fortunate to have such a well-qualified and talented successor to Ray in Cathal.

“The Board has every confidence in Cathal’s leadership qualities, accumulated experience, his commitment to modernising the industry and his alignment with Laing O’Rourke’s values of care, integrity, and courage.

“We salute the unique creativity of Ray’s leadership in building the Group and its culture that we know today. We are fortunate that he will continue to serve providing ongoing guidance and mentorship.”