Sheila O’Connor is a qualified engineer who works as an Auditor at the ESB.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
I work in Internal Audit at ESB. The team has people from disciplines ranging from IT to accounting to engineering. As a team, Audit is responsible for the review of activities across ESB Group – to give independent assurance to the Board and management that the internal controls that are in place are adequate and effective, that the risks the company faces are managed appropriately and that value for money is obtained across all activities.
Over the course of a year, I would be involved in 8-10 audits. The audits would be in different parts of the business and would range from audits of engineering projects (e.g. new stations/wind farms, generation station overhauls), to processes (e.g. the process for setting the electricity prices), to systems (e.g. looking at the system in place to control and operate the network). Occasionally there’d be an audit of ESB’s overseas operations (e.g. Spain, Malaysia).
Many of my audits tend to be different. But there are some common elements, for example I’m likely to be involved in interviews (in person, by telephone or via video conferencing), and I’m likely to be involved in managing the audit team. A number of the audits I’m involved in will be in areas in which I have no specific knowledge or expertise before the audit. So before an audit, there will be an element of looking outside of the company to see what best practice is, or what new direction the industry or experts are recommending.
Q: What do you like about your job?
There are only a small number of areas that I have audited more than once, which means that all of the work is new and interesting, and I’m learning all of the time. When I moved into my current role, I had spent most of my career in one part of ESB. I chose Audit as it gives me a chance to see all of the different areas of work available across the company
Q: You qualified as an engineer but you seem to have moved away from that now
One of the key advantages of an engineering qualification is that it prepares you to work in so many disciplines outside of engineering.
For example it instills you with a project management ethos, it cultivates an investigative approach, it encourages an openness to learning in new areas.