Engineer takes experience from dirt bikes and yachts to high rises

Charlotte Operating Engineer uses unique skillset to build a career at JLL

Brent Utley, Senior Operating Engineer, grew up riding dirt bikes and motorcycles with his siblings outside of Atlanta, GA. In large part thanks to his father, an engineer himself, Brent learned to repair the dirt bikes and motorcycles he was riding at an early age.

Brent isn’t a stranger to watching and learning. Both of Brent’s parents were successful in their career – his mother, the head of a hospital radiology department, and his father, a mechanical engineer. The specifics of their career paths differed but Brent notes the one common trait he took with him into his journey with JLL is a strong work ethic.

Brent started his career working on 100-foot private yachts in the Outer Banks, SC. Whether it was installing a chiller system or lending expertise on heating, airing and refrigeration, he was building the foundation for a successful engineering career. After relocating in 2015, a Chief Engineer in Charlotte gave Brent an incredible opportunity with JLL. He recalls the chief giving him a chance during the interview process – “He told me that normally, he looks for people with high-rise experience, which I didn’t have, but I seemed like someone he could trust.” Brent took that assessment of his character to heart and the next thing he knew, he was an engineer at a 600,000-square-foot high rise in the city.

In the beginning, Brent saw engineering as a day-job versus a career. When JLL came into the picture, that changed. Beyond the benefits and perks of working for a global company, Brent says that the best part about working at the firm is the support system intrinsic to the culture – from his manager and regional managers’ mentorship to the flexibility of buildings sharing engineers to the opportunity to continually learn and educate himself. For Brent, a true people-person, building the tenant relationships are what tipped his perspective from a job to a career.

Brent Utley and his family.

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Despite the tough year of 2020, Brent still has big plans to be the Chief Engineer of a building one day. He knows that he’ll continue growing and learning, especially with the ever-changing technology used by today’s engineers in modern buildings. His advice for engineers starting out is to absorb as much information as you can, no matter what you’re doing.

“Technology isn’t going away,” Brent says, “And neither is the necessity to understand how the physical parts of machinery work together and apart. You need to pair your understanding of it all.” Brent also earned a management degree and notes that managing vendors and contractors is an important part of this career path.

Brent is also a proud new dad and plans to pass on everything his parents taught him about a strong work ethic to his daughter – starting, as he did, with how to fix a dirt bike engine.

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