Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Claire Hanrahan from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Claire Hanrahan

Auditor

CRH plc

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Claire Hanrahan

The candidate needs to have a desire to travel. That is the most important. Travel is a vital part of the role of Internal Auditor at CRH. Your travel percentage ranges between 40% - 70% per year. They do try to keep it at a minimum but with a high staff turnover, you could be placed on additional audits that are short staffed.

You need to get on with all the people you work with also as you're away with these people for 4 nights a week for 4 weeks. You need to be friendly and outgoing and easy to get along with as it can get stressful on jobs so the last thing you want is someone who has attitude problems or can't communicate properly! Those 2 aspects are the most important for me.

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Naturalist
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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What a Glycobiologist does

Triona O’Connell is a research scientist at Dublin City University (DCU), where she studies the structure of sugar cells.

She’s also involved in TOG, a Dublin-based ‘hackerspace’ for people to work together on creative projects involving any materials from circuit boards to cardboard. She loves to blog and bake and talk about science. Triona was a finalist in the 2013 science communication competition FameLab.

What inspires your love of science?

The answers to science questions that make me go “oooooooooh, that’s a clever way of figuring that out”.

What kind of scientist are you?

I’m mostly a glycobiologist, which means that I investigate the biology of sugar. Various sugar units can be built into structures that decorate the surface of cells. These structures can help cells stick to one another or signal to the rest of the body about the type of cell it is and whether it is healthy or dying. In particular, I look at the changes in the sugar patterns as a cell dies.

Did you always know what research area you would end up in?

Not at all. I wanted to be a scientist from a young age, but no specific type. As time passed I became more interested in diagnostic tests, but that’s a huge field of research; you could be studying the spectrum of dyes or testing thousands of patients to make sure a test does what it says.

So you didn’t have a specific path to glycobiologist?

I did physics at University College Cork, inspired by Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe, but I dropped out. I then did a degree in biomedical science at Cork Institute of Technology.

After that, I specialised in haematology and clinical chemistry – basically blood sciences – at Dublin Institute of Technology. Then I did a master’s degree in biomedical diagnostics in DCU followed by a PhD in DCU’s School of Biotechnology.

What’s do you wish someone had told you before you started out?

Take more holidays! The work can get very intense, especially when you’ve nearly cracked the puzzle. Taking a break to rest your brain means you can do more science in the long run.

What’s the best thing about being a researcher in your field?

Glycobiology is a younger field than the biology of protein or DNA, so there’s more opportunity to discover new things.

And the most difficult?

As it’s a younger field, you might be the first person to encounter a problem so you’ll also have to be the person to find the solution.

More career stories from Smart Futures available here.


Article by: Smart Futures