“I could work at a dozen firms doing the same type of buildings, but I wouldn’t be able to do it in an entrepreneurial atmosphere that Thornton Tomasetti gives me.”

When did you join Thornton Tomasetti?
I’ve been with Thornton Tomasetti starting in 1995. I was hired as a junior engineer after receiving my master’s at Penn State. I stayed for five years and then left for two firms for a total of eight years, and I returned in 2008.

What made you want to come back?
I came back primarily because … I had experienced some really good things at the other firms – learned a lot of new things, learned a lot of new cultures, both business culture as well as office cultures. But I really wanted to come back to Thornton Tomasetti because there was a lot of friendly faces, and I thought that I could infuse some of the things that I had learned at those other firms with the core background at Thornton Tomasetti to really improve my personal experience in engineering.

What does someone need to succeed at Thornton Tomasetti?
I think to succeed at Thornton Tomasetti … from starting as a junior engineer, it starts with just being a technical person, learning how to design a building from the ground up –from the foundations all the way up to the top of a building. And then as your career progresses it becomes a little bit more of a client interaction: project management, learning how to communicate with your clients, learning when to make certain decisions, when to respond. So it’s a learning process.

Do you have a favorite project?
I have to say my favorite project was the first project that I ran by myself. That was a super-complicated building. Although it was the hardest building for me because I was learning all of those things that I didn’t know about, which was project management, client care, the finance aspect of the business. That was my first project that I ran by myself pretty much.

What is the main attraction for you to work here?
I could work at a dozen firms doing the same type of building. But I wouldn’t be able to do it in an entrepreneurial type of atmosphere that Thornton Tomasetti gives.

View Robert K. Otani's profile