"It depicted an exploded diagram detailing my request for the addition of wheels and other parts to a yellow blow-moulded plastic thing that we had just found in a roadside collection," Fairweather says. "My grandfather had attached a note he'd made at the time, referring to the high likelihood that I'd end up being an engineer. Perhaps at that point he could have also warned me of what lay ahead!"
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
I’ll admit HVAC&R was never really on my radar when I started studying engineering at UTS. My degree required me to complete extended periods of work experience; however, – the practical format of the course really suited me.
A small job board sat on the wall up on level seven of the old engineering building. It was there to help connect students with businesses who were willing to give us a go. I applied for a number of positions in various industries, but a small building services consultancy on Sydney’s North Shore called me in for an interview, then offered me a six-month role.
As a student, I preferred the thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer subjects. I was pleasantly surprised to find a role for the practical application of this theory. I was hooked. Seven years later, I remained employed by the same company, having completed additional work experience while completing my degree, then continuing as an engineer once I’d graduated. I’m grateful for the introduction to the industry and for the experience they provided.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I’ve been a follower for much longer than I’ve been a member. Access to AIRAH resources was always available in the offices that I worked in. I didn’t become an AIRAH member until It’s Engineered was established back in 2015. At this time, I was also starting to work more closely with AIRAH, and saw real value in the benefits available to members.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
What, just one?
There’s really nothing better than identifying the cause of a long-term problem, then building a solution to resolve it. I’ve had a few wins and really get a buzz out of them. I think my poor family just politely pretends to understand what I’m so excited about!
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
After establishing my own business, I struggled to explain to my kids what I do. I’ve eventually settled on the explanation that I help other people look good at what they do. I later realised how well this objective reflects how I like to work – in the background, out of the spotlight, but making sure the outcome is right. I like to think everyone benefits in these situations.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
We desperately need reform, particularly in areas of safety and compliance. We suffer from a reluctance to change. The way we’ve always done things won’t be possible forever, so we need to move to a place where we understand enough about our trade to develop innovative solutions that are better matched to future needs.
For more on Brett Fairweather, visit his LinkedIn.