Melanie Finch Wins The David Norman Young Engineer of the Year Award

Congratulations to Melanie Finch, winner of the David Norman Young Engineer of the Year Award for 2020.

Established in 1998, the award was created to inspire young engineers to achieve excellence in their chosen profession, acknowledge their efforts and achievements, and to honour David Norman’s contribution to the firm as founder.

Joining the building services industry in 2016, Melanie has shown consistent success and commitment in developing as a leader, contributor and advocate both within her role at NDY and within the building services industry as a whole.

Balancing development of strong technical skills with honing stakeholder management and commercial understanding, Melanie has established herself as a strong part of the NDY project delivery team. Over the past year she has taken on responsibility as second-in-charge of the Asset Performance market sector, and the associated client management, strategy and financial overview responsibilities. Melanie has established her capability in the delivery of multi-disciplinary projects, leading teams of core disciplines and specialty services to provide positive outcomes for projects such as building repositioning, Ground Plane developments, advisory services and fitouts. She has also been active as Digital Engineering Champion,  driving development and uptake of the custom tool NDY Designer in the Sydney office, where it is now in use over several projects.

Melanie is also highly active in the wider industry. In her role as Chair of the CIBSE ANZ Young Engineers Network, she is leading the volunteer committee to deliver on a vision of providing young professionals with opportunities for continued learning and building relationships with peers. She has also been involved with Women in Engineering mentorship at UNSW and regularly speaks at student development programs and careers events, where she endeavours to increase student engagement with our industry.

In the industry awards space, in late 2018 Melanie received the CIBSE Australia and New Zealand Graduate of the Year award. In November 2019, she was also appointed as a finalist in the AIRAH Future Leaders Award.

Melanie is aspirational and consistently interested in developing her capabilities and leadership skills. With her service-minded leadership approach, she actively seeks new opportunities which broaden her experience and increase her impact in the industry and the business.

“It is Mel’s willingness to participate in everything that is thrown at her, that sets her apart and shows her leadership potential… she has taken on market sector responsibilities, project Leadership responsibilities, leads the Emerging Pursuits Team and participates in project bid interviews, all over and above her job description. Not only is she willing to participate and drive these initiatives, she has done so with an outstanding result for all of them. She is a true future leader.”

John Versace, Office Director Sydney

Here’s a few words from Melanie herself, on what it means to win this prestigious award, what it is to be an engineer and what makes her get up in the morning.

Congratulations on winning The David Norman Young Engineer Award for 2020. What does it mean to you to win this award?


Thank you! It’s a huge honour to be recognised by a cohort of colleagues that I respect so highly. Receiving this award has given me renewed confidence and motivation to keep growing and pushing forward to the next challenge. It’s also testament to the incredible team in Sydney and indeed around the group, who have provided me with so many opportunities to grow, and the support to do so. I’m incredibly grateful!

Why did you become an engineer, what drew you to this field?


There was a decent amount of luck involved for me in discovering engineering. When I was going through school I was always focused on STEM subjects, though I was actually enrolled in an economics course for university. That is, until I attended a last-minute careers panel event and heard an engineer speak for the first time (a female engineer too, I believe). It was a revelation, and I walked out of that room convicted and excited to dive into engineering. The key for me was that I could use my technical tendencies to contribute to something tangible and improve the way the world works in some small way.

If you could tell your younger engineer self anything, what would it be?


Back yourself, and jump straight in. I think new engineers can feel daunted in an environment where there is a huge amount to learn, and they are surrounded by highly accomplished teams (a blessing, though a slightly intimidating one!). I would tell my younger engineer self to speak up, ask the ‘silly’ questions, make the left-field suggestion. New thinking and a fresh pair of eyes, even if relatively inexperienced, can have great value.

Share a turning point or defining moment in your career to date


A big part of how I have developed in my career was joining CIBSE (the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers). Being so closely involved with the Young Engineers and ANZ committees has shifted my perspective on the industry to a much more collaborative one. It’s great to feel like not only part of a mechanical team, or even NDY, but to identify as an active part of the building services industry as a whole. It’s been a pathway to meet brilliant peers from around the industry and to be part of building an engaged cohort of young engineering professionals. I’m excited to see how we grow as a profession in a very rapidly changing world.

What makes you get up in the morning?


The people I work with. Colleagues, clients, industry partners – there are so many interesting, motivated people pushing this industry along and making sure to enjoy it at the same time. I love being a part of that.

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