Brad Armstrong likes to tell people what Barmco Mana McMurray (BMM), the engineering and construction company he founded in 1996, has in common with one of the world’s biggest technology firms.
“One of the key similarities between the company at that time and the Apple Corporation is that we were based out in a garage,” he told create.
“Except I owned the garage.”
Today, Armstrong has sold his shares in the company, but he continues to advise them — and other projects — as a consultant.
“I’m working on Australia’s Parliament House as an independent commissioning agent,” he said.
“They’re doing some upgrades to their 11 kV standby power generation system. My role there is to make sure the project comes to a successful conclusion, operates, and is actually meeting what the clients asked for in the first place.”
He’s also playing a role in upgrading another major Canberra landmark: the Australian War Memorial.
These projects’ profile is an indicator of the place that Armstrong’s work has claimed in the nation’s capital.
“Approximately one in eight Commonwealth public servants here in the ACT work in a building or reside in a facility that’s got BMM DNA on it somewhere,” Armstrong said.
Building a small company capable of securing work with large government departments required careful positioning, Armstrong said.
“My business partner at the time and I had to look and say, okay, we need to gain some better industry foothold,” he explained.
One approach he took was to become Chartered as an Engineering Associate through Engineers Australia.
“It has provided opportunities for Barmco Mana McMurray, as well as subsequent recognition in my new role as an independent consultant,” he said.
“All the engineers and associates that work here had to be part of a professional body, had to have appropriate industry qualification, and had to partake in professional development.”
That decision has paid off.
“Some of the work for the Commonwealth, they say, to respond to our tenders, you must have an appropriately Chartered or recognised person within your organisation,” he said.
“It’s becoming more and more recognised as part of a standard tendering process.”
Chartership requirements have another advantage for him as well.
“It’s brought an added benefit for me personally to hear from where the industry is at a regular basis, doing my continuing professional development, even at 62 years old,” he said.
“Every day’s a school day.”
Tips for success
- Find a mentor you can trust and have an honest conversation with.
- Look for a path to study that allows you to gain workplace experience, such as an internship.
- Practical hands-on experience is invaluable.
- Ask questions. No reasonable employer expects you to know everything when you’re first starting.
- Volunteer with your organisation or in another capacity.