Mike Bratrud: Senior Vice President, Technical Services
We recently spoke with Mike Bratrud to learn more about his new role as Senior Vice President and leader of our Technical Services. We asked him about his background, what he enjoys about working at Braun Intertec in his new role, and his advice for those just starting their career.
What is your current role at Braun Intertec?
I am the Senior Vice President of Technical Services which includes our drilling, building and structure sciences, nondestructive examinations, materials laboratory and geospatial operations services.
What is your professional background?
In college I studied geology and hydrogeology and that led me to environmental consulting. I focused on that for most of my career until about five years ago when I took on a broader role.
I’m still involved in aspects of environmental consulting such as staff mentoring, technical review, risk management, and maintaining client relationships. But now my focus is more on the business side of technical services. I’m grateful I can still do some of the technical aspects of the job as well as having an overall focus on the business. Whether it’s dealing with people or dealing with business problems, I like wearing a lot of different hats at Braun Intertec.
What interested you about this profession?
When I was thinking about going to college I knew I wasn’t suited to sitting behind a desk all the time, but I also wasn’t the classic extrovert who would go into sales. I always liked science though and knew I wanted to do something with that. I also enjoyed the outdoors, so I wound up going into geology since it involved science and I could be outside. And for a large part of my early career I was mostly outdoors doing field work on project sites.
What do you enjoy most about your role and what you get to do at Braun Intertec?
As I mentioned before, I like that I get to wear a lot of different hats and that I often get asked to troubleshoot and problem solve. I’m the type of person who is always looking for solutions and trying to get people to work together.
What’s your favorite thing about Braun Intertec? What do you feel makes it unique compared to other companies?
My favorite thing is also what makes us so unique, and that’s the variety of what we do as well as the diversity of people. We have a broad band of people here, from someone with years of experience and a PhD to young technicians working out in the field. And with that broad range of expertise we can provide a wide range of services and value to our clients.
What specialties do we offer that you feel differentiates Braun Intertec from competitors?
I think our building and structure sciences services really stands out. Most firms that play in the same arena we do (geotechnical, construction materials testing, environmental, etc.), don’t have those kinds of services. The depth of services we provide also helps us respond to some of the ups and downs of the economy, and because our portfolio is so diverse in the types of clients we serve we can jump in where we’re needed.
How do our different technical specialties interact with each other on a daily basis?
When a client can come to us as a one-stop-shop it makes communication and coordination so much easier for both us and the client. I also think there is a lot of mutual respect for our different services across the company, so we’re constantly looking for ways to collaborate and provide the best value for our clients.
What is your approach to client problem-solving?
We are a bunch of scientists and engineers, so we all naturally want to solve a science or technology problem. But for clients, they want us to solve a business problem. So, we must approach any issue with an understanding of what the client is trying to achieve.
What traits do you look for in your team members?
We look for strong communication and interpersonal skills, because we need someone who can collaborate with coworkers and truly work with clients to understand their needs. Another trait we look for is someone who has a good mix of confidence in their ability but also a level of humility to be able to ask for help when they need it. Having a balance between those two things is important.
What piece of advice do you have for somebody who is entering the profession or just starting at Braun Intertec?
I wish all schools would provide a little bit more general business knowledge. We can find some of the best scientists and engineers but having just a little bit of business knowledge about why we do what we do is important to understand how we operate.
I would also encourage anyone who is new to Braun Intertec to look outside of their individual discipline and take advantage of all there is to learn about what we do. There are a lot of opportunities here to grow and develop in your career above and beyond what people may think if they look outside of their immediate sphere.
What are some of your hobbies or things that you enjoy outside of work?
I love spending time with my family. I also really enjoy the outdoors and being active in activities like cross-country skiing, running, hunting, fishing, or camping.