Director at 28 years old after showing an interest in the business of engineering – with Marlo Bromley

Marlo Bromley became the director of DTCE Structural Engineering at the age of 28 after showing an interest in the business side of engineering.  

Marlo, how'd you become the director of a company at such a young age?  

My attitude towards engineering became more and more focused on the business of engineering, rather than only completing projects. I was genuinely interested in looking after the client's interests and my colleagues. I think this kind of attitude is easy to notice in an employee. 

I also was interested in the bottom line of the company. I liked math at school, so perhaps that's where it stemmed from! 

What encouraged you to become an engineer? 

As I say, I enjoyed physics and math at high school and, as many students do, tracked down the guidance councillor to find out what options were available as far as a career path was concerned. The advice was that, with the strong marks I was getting in those two subjects, engineering would be the most logical path. 

Did you know much about engineering at that stage? 

No, not really. My knowledge of engineering was that it had to do with physics and math, and I knew there were several different disciplines. That was about all I knew of the engineering industry. 

What do you like about engineering?  

Thinking spatially about problems is very satisfying, and I also enjoy developing an understanding of how physical things interact with each other.  

One of the things I particularly enjoy is solving problems, so it is extremely rewarding when your career includes areas that you are very passionate about. 

What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on DTCE's business? 

It has had some interesting effects. It has helped us understand the requirements of having staff working from remote locations and how that allowed the business to operate just as efficiently as if the complete team was in the office. 

DTCE did have staff working remotely before COVID-19, but the lockdown forced us to have a serious look at those arrangements and determine how we could streamline our processes. I believe the success of our remote working policies will see DTCE becoming more open to having staff develop greater flexibility in their working arrangements. 

Another effect of COVID-19 pandemic was to force a change in the development of new commercial buildings. Some developers were planning the construction of three or four-story multiuse buildings with the bottom floor retail and the upper floors residential. A number of these projects have now been put on hold, and that has caused a fall-off in demand for new commercial buildings of that type. However, the development of residential and government buildings is still going strong.  

We also had a significant downturn in the amount of construction monitoring that was able to be done during Alert Level 4. Monitoring work generally takes up a substantial chunk of our time, but that work didn't restart until a few weeks ago when we returned to Alert Level 3. While Alert Level 4 did have a serious effect on our business, the move to Level 3 allowed us to return to some business normality 

Have you gained any insights into how the lockdown is affecting staff? 

I have tried to have a catchup with each of our engineers at least once a week. They all seem to be accepting that this is part of life at the moment and are getting on with the work that is on their plate. 

When you look at the overall engineering industry, are there enough graduates coming through to fill the positions available? 

At this time of our history, there are. It is unlikely that structural engineering firms will be looking to recruit new staff in the short term. Maybe recruitment will fire up again when the commercial building sector recovers but that may be some way off.   

What do you like to do when you're not working?  

I spend time trail running and mountain biking which is ideal given Wellington's terrain. Snowboarding is another of my passions.