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Bangalore beginning

Names & Faces - Atkins' head of structures John Roberts is heading to India to take up a new challenge.

Consultants with design offices in India are nothing new. But the idea of sending your top man out there to run one certainly is.

That is what Atkins is doing with John Roberts, who is off to head up the firm's Bangalore operation.

Roberts' credentials are second to none.

Over the last 20 years his projects have included the Jubilee Line's Canary Wharf Station, Berlin's Reichstag, the new Hollywood Bowl and the 4ha retractable roof for Miller Park, Milwaukee.

'Projects have been around 'the world, but I have (until now) been based in London and Los Angeles with Arup, he says.

Two years ago things began to change.

'I surprised myself by being seduced into moving from Arup where I had been since I was a junior engineer and joining Atkins.

'Most people have a mid life crisis and downsize, but I went the other way, moved out of my comfort zone and joined something larger.

'Since then I have been the director, leading the structural team at HQ and getting involved in tall buildings in Bangkok, Istanbul and Islamabad, concentrating on upping the 'design' profile of Atkins' work, he says.' Now he has surprised himself again.

'This is getting a habit, ' he jokes.

'Having suggested that I go to the new 'land of engineering' to help Atkins build a high quality team, suddenly I am in Bangalore in India with wife and daughter.

'Again, my mission is to raise the profile of the work that Atkins' office here is doing.

There are talented people in India and my new aim is to help create a world class building team.' But he is taking it all in his stride.

'I always wanted to live in India for a while and it's a fantastic opportunity for the business, as well as for my professional and personal life.'

Q&A John Roberts

Career highlight: I do this job for the split second rush from elegant ideas - four times a year if you're lucky.

They have to be really, really elegant.

Career lowlight: A crane accident killed three on a project I was designing.

Being an engineer is all about sleeping at night, and that had me lying awake for several weeks.

If you weren't an engineer, what would you be? I'd be somewhere in cyberspace.

Good web design combines information, art and the geek.

I'm afraid that's me.

If your house was burning down, what would you save? Maybe nothing - wouldn't it be interesting to be liberated from all that stuff?

Your greatest inspiration: Bill Wilson, a teacher at Poole Grammar School, taught physics via engineering examples. He saved me from becoming a scientist.

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