Five minutes with Trevor Bloch

In the PACE hot seat is Trevor Bloch is Director of BlochTech Engineering.

How did you come to be in this industry?
My first job out of university was for a company providing control systems for the water and wastewater industry. From there I spent a few years in software development, building applications for mass transit ticketing and train emergency braking systems before coming back to control systems integration. I felt I could do things better than the company I was working for and that was motivation for me to start my consultancy.

What's the best business idea you have that you will never use?
A few years ago, I started working on a small lightweight personal electric vehicle. Most car trips are single-person trips over relatively short distances and people will use a five seater car to make these trips. I thought this wasn't a very optimal use of energy so I started designing a small personal vehicle that only weighed a few hundred kilograms and could make the short trips using a fraction of the energy of a conventional car.

What do you see are the biggest opportunities for our industry?
The biggest opportunity for our industry is centralised remote automation. Water utilities are already accustomed to monitoring hundreds of remote sites from a single central operations centre but this idea is essential for countries like Australia to be competitive.

Our high labour rates mean that it is not competitive for us to have large numbers of plant operations staff "on the ground" and these people are likely to be replaced by a higher level of plant automation and by centralising a number of plants into larger operation centres.

What's the greatest challenge in your job?
Balancing the managerial and technical aspects of my work is the greatest challenge. Being an engineer I find it all too easy to dive head-first into the technical aspects of projects and somewhat ignore the management requirements. Over the last few years I've realised that my business only works if I spent the majority of my time managing so when I find myself knee-deep in technical work I know that it's time to hire more technical people so I can get back to doing the things that keep the business running.

If you could be anything else, what would it be and why?
I would definitely be a ski bum! You can't beat the freedom of hiking through the mountains and picking your own line to snowboard down – it uses a completely different set of skills to those that I use every day. It would be great not to have to worry about project deadlines or budgets and wake up every day with absolutely nothing planned. If it's any consolation I do manage to squeeze two snowboarding trips in a year to keep me sane.

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