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Mike Otlet

Careers profile

Mike Otlet, head of structural engineering for Atkins' DE 2(design, engineering and environment) division, describes himself as 'very much a hands on engineer'.

'I love my engineering and design, so I tend to stay clear of the management development activities, ' he says. 'I think it's important to have people at this level that go up the technical route.'

Having said that, Otlet admits that when he joined the company 10 years ago he was a designer who did not have much knowledge of project financial control. 'Atkins helped me to improve my business skills, ' he says.

He hopes his enthusiasm for the projects and clients filters down through the division, and works hard to ensure the company's structural engineers are kept motivated. 'What we can do is offer them diversity, ' he says. 'Variety is what keeps people interested. We have a lot of very ordinary projects - like schools and houses - but also a lot of very interesting projects in places like China and Korea.

'We try to cut down on mundane calculations by using software packages that will do that. I want structural engineers to do the thinking end and the machines to do the boring end.'

Otlet says Atkins' sheer size enables it to invest in new computers and software to help the engineers. 'The advantage of a big company is that we can have all the computers we want. We've got 1,600 different software packages, so my designers can get to the tools that allow them to push the boundaries and come up with really adventurous designs.'

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