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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.


The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Being a good Role Model

You probably don't see yourself as a role model, but whether you accept it or not, your personality and character (and everything else for that matter!) defines who you are, and, as a parent, this will have a significant influence on your children. If you hate work and always have, that message will quite likely be absorbed by your children, and forms part if their attitude to work.

Likewise, if you believe (and show by example) that always doing a job well is the best approach, your child is most likely to adopt a similar attitude.

How you live your life is the strongest example and encouragement you can offer any young person on their career journey. Setting good example is often the most significant career coaching your child will ever experience. They will learn valuable life skills from

  • How you organise and manage your career and personal life
  • The way you conduct your relationships and social networks
  • How you show respect and concern for others
  • How you set and reach goals
  • How you cope with setbacks and achievements
  • How you handle your mistakes and those of others
  • How you manage your mental and physical well-being – e.g: diet, exercise, emotions and general outlook on life.

Positive Role Models

The most helpful way you can support your children in their career development is by ensuring that they are equipped with a realistic view of the world, and the skills and attitudes that make them employable. This involves nurturing in them sound and realistic expectations of the world of work, which are described in the High Five section.

It is very easy to expect that our teenage children will simply learn many of the skills needed to develop their own career path. This is often not the case, as making 'big' decisions and choosing their future is a relativly new challenge for them to contend with. Here are some guidelines to assist you in developing the skills required by your child as they learn to make 'big' decisions for themselves:

  • Demonstrate positive choice-making
    • Show by example the choices you make and the consequenses of those choices. If you show anxiety when making choices, your child is likely to feel the same when it is their turn.
  • Think out loud
    • When you have a tough choice to make, allow your children to see how you work through the problem, weighing the pros and cons, and come to a decision. The process of making a good informed decision that has personal consequences is a skill. A good role model will not only show a child that good choices can be made, but also how they came to that decision.
  • Admit mistakes
    • Most of us have made poor decisions at some point in time - and may not be inclined to tell everyone about them - least of all our children. Yet our children need to know how to handle such mistakes and bad judgements and how we coped with the consequences. This will help them understand that (a) everyone makes mistakes; (b) it's not the end of the world; (c) you can recover and fix most problems; and (d) you can take responsibility and act as soon as possible to make good any damage. If you can be a role model for handling mistakes maturely, you will empower your children to do the same.
  • Follow through
    • If you demonstrate the ability to stick to your commitments and promises, your child will learn the benefits of such actions for themselves. Verbally expressing your intentions and showing follow through will provide an excellent role modelling of these behaviours for the future.
  • Show confidence in yourself
    • Whatever you choose to do with your life, be proud of the person you’ve become and continue to become. It may have been a long road and you may have experienced bumps along the way, but it’s the responsibility of a role model to commemorate the lessons learned, the strength we’ve amassed, and the character we've developed. In order for children to celebrate who they are, their role models need to show that they too can celebrate themselves regardless of the ups and downs along the path. 

It is important to know that teenagers often seem committed to defining themselves as everything you are not - and so it might appear that your efforts are in vain. In reality, most will grow out of this phase, and this is when your influence will begin to show more clearly.

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