Northrop and Melbourne together at last

Northrop principal and structural engineer, James Sutherland, who previously managed our Wollongong office, is making the move to open a new Melbourne Northrop office in early 2016.

We sat down with James just before he hopped on the plane to Melbourne.

Why now? What’s prompted the move?

Northrop isn’t the type of company that taps people on the shoulder and says “you’re going to Melbourne”. They create opportunities for people and invite them to take them up.  Now is the right time for me. We are growing as a company and I feel with our experience we have something unique to offer the Melbourne development and construction market.

This is my career and for Northrop it’s a long term investment. The first 12 months is going to be building the right foundations and growing our relationships to set Northrop up in Melbourne. We’ve been around since 1976, we see the potential in Melbourne, and we are here for the long haul.

Nicole my wife is also a Northrop team member, and she’ll be coming down to Melbourne as well along with our two boys. It’s a brilliant thing that we can move down together and work with each other on this.

There’s a lot I love about how we develop people and our client relationships. We’re not just an engineering business, we’re a people business too.  So I’m very excited to be able to offer the great Northrop culture to new people in Melbourne.

What’s the plan when you arrive?

I’ll be spending the rest of this year meeting people; finding out about their plans; and working out where we can leverage our existing experience for their benefit; the intent is to have a fully functioning office in early 2016.

In terms of project types, we feel we have plenty to offer in education, health & aged care, multi-residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Not only from a company experience point of view, but from me personally.

We have a number of key clients in the Melbourne Health sector already, having already completed several private hospital projects in Melbourne from New South Wales.  So this provides a logical starting point.

It’s going to take some time to find my feet and learn what I can about the local industry, and talking to lots of people with a view to building new, enduring partnerships. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

How will you deliver projects as you grow?

Initially our focus will be to create a strong structural engineering offering. However, Northrop is a multi-disciplinary engineering design practice with a broad range of specialist skills to call on as required.  Over time the Melbourne office will look to locally house and deliver a multi-disciplinary offering.  

And I’m very fortunate to have the maturity and scale of a $35 million business behind me. For as long as we need it, we will have support and resources on tap from our interstate offices.

Finally, AFL or NRL?

I’m not falling for that one. I’ve bought a place in Cheltenham, so obviously I’m now in Saints territory. And black red and white match very well with the Northrop brand.

Principal, Structural Engineer