Dr Thomas Mortlock CMarEng undertakes modelling for coastal and flood hazards for the reinsurance industry and for government in Australia.
Describe your academic/training history and how you got to where you are today.
I undertook an undergraduate degree in Geography with Oceanography and a Master of Science degree in Coastal Engineering, both at the University of Southampton. I then worked for nearly four years as a Coastal Engineer for New Forest District Council. After this, I decided to undertake a PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, in the field of coastal geoscience. After completing my PhD, I started work with Risk Frontiers as a Risk Scientist.
Describe a typical workday
My work day may involve a range of tasks, mostly related to data science and modelling, tendering for commercial projects, and meeting clients. The great part of my job is it requires thought leadership, which means research is an important component of what I do. I have the opportunity to publish my work, present at conferences and, whenever there is a big natural disaster that occurs, undertake post-event field surveys on site.
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
Coding (I use Matlab, but would strongly recommend Python), familiarity with modelling software (e.g. Delft3D, MIKE21), statistical understanding (extreme value analysis, probability theory), good time management, site and surveying experience, ability to communicate with peers and clients.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Flexibility in terms of time, freedom to explore new ideas (if commercially viable), application of my work to real-world solutions.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Transitioning from a coastal engineering background to working for clients in natural hazard reinsurance required me to gain an understanding of the reinsurance industry, of which I had no prior exposure.
Give us an interesting fact about you!
Before I undertook my undergraduate, I took a gap year and travelled around Central America. Then, after my degree I took another gap year and lived in France. My advice would be don't rush it - those experiences shaped who I am and where I am today.
Why did you become a member of the IMarEST?
IMarEST was the most applicable professional body for my background - on the border between geoscience and engineering, and between civil and marine/coastal work. My CMarEng chartership has definitely helped my career in giving me industry respect when I meet with clients, and allowing me job opportunities and roles I would otherwise not have had.