Ask me your
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
The main drivers in my life have been my interest in machinery and rebuilding the same along with optimising and improving.
At the age of 14, I was helping my father who was a motor mechanic, we fixed cars and personally I got into rebuilding motor bikes. Later at 15 years of age, I progressed on to rally cars. The rallying was a particular favourite past time of mine and it allowed me to travel with a rally team to all parts of the UK and Europe.
At school I especially enjoyed the science subjects and never liked or did well at arty type subjects, they were, however, a must to get into college, so I kind of had to do them.
I have always been involved in sports ranging from rugby, climbing, walking, fishing and skiing to name a few. Most of these sports have involved team participation, which is now an essential part of my days work.
At college I studied Metallurgy (the study of metals) and decided that it was now really time to put more effort into the job in hand rather than all sport as I had tended to do at school.
I graduated from Brunel University in 1988 with a first class degree that allowed me to then return to my sponsoring company Stanton PLC, in Nottingham as part of the central melting plant team.
Following this first expedition in to engineering management I moved to a supplier company that allowed me to have more travel in Europe.
Following this I then became a Plant Manager at a stainless steel melting shop in Derbyshire that were specialists in Rapid Cooling Technologies with products being developed for use on aircraft.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
The first influential person was my father. He was a mechanic and that bought me in to close contact with all types of cars and vehicles. Later he started his own garage business and I helped here when I could at weekends and holidays.
One chap at college I particularly remember was a lecturer who took us for presentation skills. This is a very important subject that most people would benefit from but was rarely taught back in the early 80's. He was extremely tough on mistakes, but then you certainly learned your tools and techniques, and this has stood me in good stead to this day.
The third was my first boss at Stanton PLC. He was a real old time manager that was both tough but very fair at the same time, straight talking and no messing about. He was a great influence as this role model started to mould my own management and team leadership skills techniques.
More recently my partner has had a hugh influence and I realise that through the years I may have been lacking a few interpersonal skills and this is still an area I work on to this day.
How did you go about getting your current job?
When I moved to Ireland I sent out a few CVs to various companies to see if there were any opportunities.
I was asked to complete a formal application form, I was interviewed by the Engineering Manager and then after this my peers met with me to make sure I would click with the team and finally completion of a medical exam secured my job.
I was asked back in and told face to face of the offer by Masonite Ireland.
Describe a typical day?
Actually there is nothing like a typical day really, and that's what make it so interesting.
But common things do happen: Morning production meetings to get feedback from shifts occur at 07:45 followed by a planning meeting at 10:00 for the next 24hrs schedules. A 08:30 there is a short technical team meeting to try and dove tail current work lists in the department and to give/get feedback on various activities going on. The rest of the day would be spent on parts of the circa 5-10 projects that would typically be on the go at any one time.
When you have so many projects on the go it is very important to develop tracking systems that work for you and to try and reduce the pressure of deadline by setting your own targets some time before the actual due dates.
Challenges can come about because of multiple competing deadlines and tight resources on man power, scheduling is thus the key to success.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
My main task these days is to continually improve any system within the company as part of a Lean Six Sigma culture.
I act as a sounding block for anyone who is working on projects and I help in any way I can to progress their own projects.
In the technical department we act as consultants in a way, to anyone that requires help, if we can't help then we generally know who can.
From the project perspective, it is our responsibility to coordinate all aspects of the project and put systems and procedures in place to make sure gains are sustained over a long period of time following project completion.
What are the main challenges?
The coolest thing is that I am practically my own boss, provided projects come in on time and within agreed/set budgets.
I am very lucky in that I get to make the company better and in some instances make the lives of some people easier and less fraught.
I love working as part of a dedicated team that strives to continually improve all aspects of the organisation.
What's not so cool?
The most difficult parts of the job are competing reporting requirements. There are many reports that have to be done and are essential to certain folks but at this time I feel we should improve these systems as there are too many of them.
Time spent fixing problems would be more beneficial to the company -there I go again, trying to improve the system!
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Specific skills that I believe I bring are: good team player, good facilitator, good communicator and good at project analysis.
But the most important skill I believe is to question everything and never except anything on face value! Get in to the nuts and bolts of problems and take everyone's views into account prior to giving a recommendation.
To never give up is my own personal quality that makes me a good fit for the job.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Science Subjects: Maths, Physics, Biology, Tech drawing, Chemistry - I loved these and they are very applicable for my current career path.
Data analysis and problem solving - it's all about number crunching at the end of the day when working on technical problems.
Arts, English, English Literature and French are subjects I was never really interested in at school, but have become more interested in the last 10 years, as they are very useful for communication purposes, and that is now a very big part of my job.
What is your education to date?
O Levels: Maths, Physics, Biology, Tech Drawing, English, French, Chemistry.
A Levels: Maths, Physics, Biology
Metallurgy Honours Degree (Sandwich type course, six months in University followed by six months in work placements)
Mountain Leader (Leadership Skills, First Aid etc)
Energy Management -- SEAI Ireland
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Ireland - (Project Management Systems)
Lean six Sigma Black Belt, USA - (Project Management Systems)
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The most important aspects of my education have been the science based subjects but, having said that, the amount of team work and communications skills used increases all the time.
It is very important to have a balanced education and not to forget the arts based subjects such as languages and drawing etc.
Presentation skills are vitally important as they are the first thing that a prospective employer will see from you, a first impression is just that.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
There have been a lot of rewarding events when equipment and systems have been improved but the most rewarding have been projects recognised by external bodies as best in class:
Especially the energy saving projects recognised by the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) recently.
SEAI Awards for: Best Electrical Projects, Best Coordinated Energy Management Programs and Outstanding Energy Team of the year 2009
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I will try to list my personal qualities, not necessarily in order of importance:
- Good Communicator
- Take Responsibility
- Never give up
- Positive attitude
- Hard worker
- Accurate Data
- Action orientated
- Fair minded
- Good problem solving
- Logical thinker and
- Good mechanical background
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Where I live is very important to me as I love out door activities, working in Letrim is pretty much ideal for all I want to.
I have to say that being an Energy Manager/Plant Optimisation Engineer allows me more freedom than certain other career choices would have. For example I am lucky to be able to solve problems that will allow other employees to make a better contribution, not only to the business but also for themselves.
I have a good work balance in that I am in the office and out about roughly 50/50 split and its never boring as different opportunities come my way all the time.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Communication and team skills are probably the most important aspect overlooked.
In energy management, it is not I that saves the energy, but often it is folks on the ground using the equipment.
It is the energy managers job to educate by communication, the importance of doing the right things, savings then come as a result.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Determination - set backs happen often and usually you will get told why you cannot do such a thing before the reality comes out. Never give up easily.
Communication Skills - you must be able to communicate effectively - its all about working as a team and keeping up the chat. No one (well, few) are telepathic and you cannot do anything unless you know about it. Communication is very important from you to them and back again.
Organisation - you have to be organised and able to juggle competing resources to make targets and hit deadlines.
What is your favourite music?
What is your pet hate at work?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Yes, it is very important to continue with upskilling throughout your career. In the last few years I have started to learn and use new-found skills based aroung lean six sigma principles.
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to take a number of specialised training courses that have benfitted both the company and I.
Energy Management Pumping systems, Time Management, Intensive French, Health and Safety, Remote Emergency Care, Lean Six Sigma (Green and Black Belt), to name only a few.
I would like to go on to do an MBA in the future when kids leave home and I have more time available to study.
Education and Training?
Advice for Others?