How to have an adaptable career

Matt Browell-Hook, Atkins

ACE Excellence award winner Matt Browell-Hook says engineers can use their skills to broaden their work horizons.

The dictionary tells us that to adapt is to “make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly”.  Just as in other areas of life, as engineers we modify our inputs to be able to affect the output.  This can be very linear and prescribed to meet a known outcome or can be more flexible to see what the outcome will be.

"Your ability to stand out and move forward will be defined by your ability to bring an input from another industry"

As engineers we are used to, and indeed covet our mental adaptability. We are taught how to change our viewpoint based on the information available and to make decisions with what that tells us.  How then do we exploit this ability to gain personal opportunities in engineering?

I was recently lucky enough to win the Engineering Professional of the Year award at the ACE Engineering Excellence dinner.  I don’t think I am a better engineer than my peers and certainly not at the theoretical level of our technical experts so why did I stand out?  I believe it is because of adaptability.

I have worked in the construction industry, the power industry and now the oil and gas industry.  I have adapted to suit these not by looking for the difference but looking at the similarities in the inputs.  That way I can steer my career using the linear inputs and being flexible with the outputs.

When you take an engineering approach to your career and look at your inputs you will be amazed at the number of consistent facts.  Your ability to stand out and move forward will be defined by your ability to bring an input from another industry and introduce it to your new one; it’s a straight forward as rearranging the equation but you must be willing to adapt.

Mechanical engineer Matt Browell-Hook is project manager for Atkins work with Talisman Sinopec in Aberdeen