Alumni Spotlight: Brandon Marlow

Brandon Marlow graduated from UGA in 2000 with a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering (with emphases in Electrical Systems and Mechanical Systems and a minor in Animal Science) and in 2005 with an MBA.  Brandon is a Human Performance Manager at Southern Nuclear, a part of Southern Company.  He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife Allison Jenkins Marlow (’98) and three children, Brock (10), Addie (7), and Blair (4).

Why did you choose to attend UGA?

I guess the best way to say it is, “Georgia by birth, Dawg by the grace of God.” I was born and raised in Georgia and come from a family of big Georgia fans, so I’ve always loved UGA.  Georgia 4-H is another big piece of it.  Growing up, I was heavily involved in Georgia 4-H, which is a unit of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension Service. I was constantly involved in activities and events that were UGA-sponsored.

What are your best UGA memories?

Making friends and participating in a variety of activities on campus… breakfast at Mayflower, lunch at ADD Drug, and Thursday nights at Steverino’s or the Georgia Theater… band parties… opportunities provided through Arch Society and Aghon… and the football games and tailgating of course! 

What activities were you involved in at UGA?

Arch Society, Aghon, Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Collegiate 4-H, and the Livestock Judging Team.  I was also a UGA bus driver.  After my first two years, I was working as a bus driver, working as a co-op, or participating in Aghon and Arch Society events.

What do you remember most about your time as an engineering student at UGA?

I would probably say late nights at Driftmier studying with friends and going to the student lounge after class to network with friends.

Who were some of your favorite engineering professors?

Dr. Gattie, Dr. McClendon, Dr. Sellers, and Dr. Clark. I would probably say that Dr. Clark’s hydraulics class was the most highly used class I’ve had post-college.  What I learned in that class has applied to multiple work activities I’ve performed from a standpoint of troubleshooting and working with systems in plants.  Hydraulics, as well as pneumatics, assisted me in becoming a more effective engineer coming directly out of school.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I’m in the field of management, leadership, human behavior, and performance improvement.  To give you a better idea of what I do, I measure and provide oversight on systems and our organization in the area of human error reduction.  The thing I like best about my job to date is that every day is something different.  I am constantly looking at ways to improve different processes: mechanical, electrical, and human processes.  I often look at human behavior to reduce human error.  I work to understand incentives behind behavior.  I want to understand why we, humans, do what we do and how we can change those incentives so that we improve desired behaviors for error reduction.

How has your UGA Engineering degree influenced your career?

First, it started with networking.  One of my engineering friend’s father was an engineering manager at a company in Athens.  When I told him I was looking for a co-op, he said, “My dad is looking for a co-op, why don’t you talk to him?”  And that turned into a co-op, which then turned into a job.  I ended up working there for 12 years before an opportunity at Southern Nuclear became available. 

When I started out in the engineering field, I used a lot more of the engineering techniques I learned in school.   From there, I moved into continuous improvement, helping to improve the company I worked for in Athens.  Then an opportunity in nuclear came along.  With my continuous improvement background, I worked on solving problems identified using root-cause analysis.  And then I had the opportunity to go down this human performance path, which I’ve learned a lot from as well.

My engineering background gave me the foundation to be able to communicate on a level that was both technical and managerial.  Engineering gives you the ability to say, “I can learn that, I can do that, I can apply that.” 

The easiest way to describe the impact of my engineering degree is it puts you in a place where companies say, “If they can do that, they can be trained for this.”  That’s the short of it.  I’ve always said that getting an engineering degree is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  UGA Engineering stretched every limit that I had.  It was a challenge, but I’ve been able to be very successful because of it, and for that I am very grateful.

And now it is so great to hear “University of Georgia College of Engineering.”  It’s phenomenal.  I am so glad to hear that the program is growing and our name is getting out there.  I’m looking forward to that continued success. 

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