National Workplace Wellbeing Day 2021 At SL Controls
National Workplace Wellbeing Day takes place on Friday, 30 April, and to celebrate we have a week of activities and initiatives planned to promote health and wellbeing at SL Controls. Those activities and initiatives are part of our Live Well at SL and Think Well at SL programmes.
This Friday will be the seventh annual National Workplace Wellbeing Day. It’s an IBEC initiative that aims to focus on social, physical, and mental wellbeing in Irish workplaces.
At SL Controls, our employees can get involved in various ways:
- Digital gym – a digital gym glass schedule for the week has been made available to employees with both live and on-demand fitness classes. Employees take part in a range of classes including Combat Fitness, Pilates, HIIT, Mindfulness and Yoga. Classes take place morning, lunchtime & evening.
- Daily walks – employees are being encouraged to take morning, lunchtime, or after-work walks. Challenges are being set throughout the week for walks and other areas of wellbeing.
- Healthy eating – employees are being encouraged to eat fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables throughout the week.
- Laya events – employees have access to Laya events taking place on Friday, including a high-intensity interval training session as well as a session titled 5 Ways to Maximise Your Health & Potential.
- 5 tips a day – we’ll share five tips a day throughout the week on physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
- Virtual canteen – our virtual canteen will be open every day for employees to chat and have a cuppa with colleagues.
Norma Mulligan, HR Generalist at SL Controls, said: “Workplace physical and mental wellbeing are important priorities here at SL Controls. We also place significant importance on social wellbeing in the workplace, although that has been hard to achieve during the pandemic. We are working remotely, and all our social events for over a year now have been virtual, making Workplace Wellbeing Day 2021 even more significant.
“The activities and initiatives we have put together are designed to be fun but to also have that important message of looking after your mental, physical, and social health in the workplace.”
Easter Virtual Family Fun At SL Controls
At Easter, we normally run fun activities for our employees and their families to take part in. This year is a bit different as we are in lockdown, but we haven’t let that stop us. Instead, we made our Easter activities virtual!
We had a “How many Eggs in the Jar” competition. There were 294 eggs in the jar and Fergal Quinn got the closest with a brilliant guess of 289!
We also ran an Easter Art competition with three kid’s hampers as prizes. Our employee’s children, nieces, nephews, etc were all invited to take part. The entries were amazing, some of which you can see below.
We also gave details of Laya’s Supertroopers Easter Treasure Hunt with Ireland rugby player Johnny Sexton. It took place on Easter Sunday and many of our employees and their families got involved.
Press Release: SL Controls Announces Former PM Group CEO Pat McGrath As Its New Chairman
SL Controls Also Names John Scanlan As New Director Of Corporate Services
SL Controls, the specialist software integration firm, has announced former PM Group CEO Pat McGrath as a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of its Board.
It is also announcing the appointment of John Scanlan as its new Director of Corporate Services.
The announcement comes after SL Controls recently announced it would be creating 50 new highly-skilled jobs over the next 18 months.
SL Controls is an international provider of equipment system integrated solutions to a range of world-leading brands across a number of industries including MedTech, Pharma, Healthcare and Technology. Many of the new hires will be engineers.
As a Chartered Engineer himself and having worked for PM Group for 40 years, SL Controls Chairman Pat McGrath has extensive experience in the sectors covered by the company. He was CEO of PM Group for almost 12 years and remained as a Non-Executive Director for three further years, leaving in 2014.
Some of Pat’s specialities lie in the fields of Strategic Management, Corporate Governance, Engineering, Project Management and International Business Development. Pat is also a Chartered Director (IoD).
As Director of Corporate Services, John Scanlan will play a key role in SL Controls’ delivery of total solutions from equipment systems integration to data driven insights to help customers transform their operations.
John’s experience spans across a range of disciplines and industries and, over the past five years, he has specialised in service and market development strategy for cloud technology, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0.
SL Controls Chairman Pat McGrath says:
“I am delighted to join the board of SL Controls and look forward to working with the company as it goes through this growth phase; it is exciting to be part of that journey with them. SL Controls has already put itself into a great position with an excellent team and strong systems and procedures across the organisation. Now, with a formal board and a robust development plan to bring us to 2023, the company is really ready to scale. The company has already exceeded all targets for 2020 and is working in a sector that is seeing unprecedented growth.
“I hope to bring good corporate governance at board level as well as applying my knowledge of international business development and the multinational sector. I am personally very passionate about CPD and am very pleased that SL Controls has a strong commitment to supporting its team to continuously upskill.”
SL Controls Director of Corporate Services John Scanlan says:
“SL Controls operates at the leading edge of manufacturing systems internationally. The company has also developed turnkey control to cloud solutions for intelligent manufacturing and provides a range of innovative services. I look forward to working with my colleagues to truly deliver the benefits of our total integration expertise and real value from data in the cloud to our customers.”
SL Controls CEO Keith Moran says:
“We are delighted to welcome both Pat and John to the SL Controls team. Both have extensive experience in strategy development and implementation and these will be key skills in assisting the company in its continued growth. I look forward to working with both Pat and John and am excited to see what we can all achieve together.”
Choose to Challenge in Engineering – the Perspective of Female Engineers on International Women’s Day 2021
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge – challenging gender bias and inequality and choosing to celebrate the achievements of women. We decided to look at that topic from the perspective of some of the women who work for us at SL Controls. Specifically, two women who chose to challenge the gender stereotypes that still exist in too many aspects of engineering.
Saoirse and Blessing are both recent graduates and have been working for us for a while now on various projects. Therefore, they have direct, recent experience of studying engineering as a woman and then starting their careers.
Studying Engineering as a Women
Saoirse Kearse is a Software Quality Engineer at SL Controls. She said: “In the last years in secondary school, I knew what I wanted to do because I’d done maths, applied maths, physics, and chemistry in my Leaving Cert.
“I went on to study electronics and computer engineering at NUIG. There were 60 people in that class, and only four of us were women. That is a big gender imbalance, but I received plenty of support and encouragement.”
Unfortunately, that experience is not universal. Blessing Nwachukwu, a Systems Engineer at SL Controls, obtained her bachelor’s degree in Romania. She is originally from Nigeria and received a scholarship to study at the Romanian university where the focus was marine engineering.
“In secondary school, I enjoyed chemistry, physics, and especially maths,” Blessing said. “I considered going into medicine but then decided that engineering was what I really wanted to do. I then won the scholarship to study electromechanical engineering.
“My experience studying for my bachelor’s degree was challenging, as women were typically moved into studying navigation. That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an engineer. So, myself and another lady fought to get onto the engineering course.”
Blessing’s experience in Ireland as she studied a master’s in mechatronics at UL was substantially more positive in terms of attitude and support.
However, the gender balance in terms of class makeup was still weighted heavily towards males, something that most in the educational and engineering sectors believe must change as soon as possible.
Working as a Female Engineer
What about the experience after you leave college, getting a job and starting your career? Both Saoirse and Blessing joined SL Controls as graduates. Blessing explained that she has experienced support from day one, despite engineering currently being a male-dominated profession.
She said: “From the first conversation I had with management in SL Controls, they recognised my ambition and aspirations to move into project management. It is an environment where everyone wants you to discover your potential, male or female. I am enjoying my growth and believe this experience is laying a good foundation for my career.”
Saoirse said: “From my experience working with the SL Controls team and out on client sites, it is never an issue that you are a girl. Some of the projects I have been working on have been with international pharmaceutical companies, and I’ve never had the experience of you can’t do this because you are female.”
Choose to Challenge in Engineering
What messages do Saoirse and Blessing have for girls in secondary school and young women considering their future careers?
Saoirse said: “I think if it is something they want to do, they should go for it and try it. There were only four girls in my college class out of 60, but I know that more girls were starting to apply in the years after I started.
“The stereotype of engineering being for men is gone. This is not a male-only industry.“I find a lot of encouragement and support, not because I am female, but because I want to succeed, I always put myself out there for roles, and I want to learn and develop.”
Blessing has a similar message. “For young females, the sky should be your starting point, not your limit,” she said. “You might meet barriers as I did in Romania, but once you make up your mind, you need to stand your ground.
“You don’t need to act like a man. You need to have a passion for engineering. You need to have a purpose. I am thankful I am an engineer. This is my purpose; it is what I know best. You have to find out what that is for you, and you have to pursue it, not allowing anything to stop you along the way. When you do, it is very rewarding.”
SL Controls Announces 50 New Highly-Skilled Jobs
SL Controls today announced the creation of 50 new highly-skilled jobs as we continue to expand and grow. The jobs will bring our total workforce to 140.
The roles will be filled over the next 18 months and include Systems Engineers, Project Managers, Validation Engineers, and Software System Designers.
To see the posts we are currently recruiting for, visit our careers page.
The press release announcing the new jobs is below. You can also watch our video as CEO Keith Moran announces the expansion.
Press Release: SL Controls to create 50 new highly skilled jobs as expansion continues
- Remote and hybrid working options to be offered to all employees
- US and Irish expansion of company continues
SL Controls, the specialist software integration firm, is to create 50 new jobs over the next 18 months. The highly skilled positions are in the engineering field and will bring the total workforce to 140.
The company is also going to offer all staff – both existing and new – the opportunity, when restrictions allow, to work remotely or in the office – or a hybrid of both.
SL Controls has expanded its employee number steadily and, over the last three years, has increased overall headcount by 40.
The new roles announced today will be in Ireland, but the company will also be hiring in the US where SL Controls continues to expand.
It is also looking to add a new Cork presence to its number of locations and a new Director of Corporate Services has been recruited who will head up development in this region.
A percentage of the new hires will be location independent remote roles and others will be offered the option of hybrid working where they can combine working from home with working from an office.
Some of the roles SL Controls will be looking to fill include: Systems Engineers; Validation Engineers, Project Managers and Software System Designers.
Established in 2002, SL Controls is an international provider of equipment system integrated solutions to a range of world-leading brands across a number of industries including Medtech, Pharma, Healthcare and Technology.
An Enterprise Ireland client, SL Controls has offices in Sligo, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Florida and has customers – mainly multinationals – in Ireland, across mainland Europe and the US.
SL Controls exceeded its growth predictions last year achieving a 33% increase in turnover in 2020 to €8.8m. The company is forecasting double digit turnover increases over the coming years.
The company is forecasting in excess of an 80% increase in turnover to €12m over the period 2019 to 2023. Growth has been funded from existing reserves and banking facilities together with continued increases in turnover.
A number of factors are driving growth including the company’s expansion into the US market and growth in key market sectors, in particular in the Lifesciences and Technology sectors.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD, said:
“This is a fantastic example of an Irish owned and based company competing and winning business internationally in a very competitive market. Over the next 18 months SL Controls will hire 50 highly qualified staff at locations throughout Ireland. I’m particularly impressed by the company’s commitment to flexible working arrangements, which reflects the ambition contained in the Government’s recent Remote Working Strategy. Congratulations to the team involved and the very best of luck with this new ambitious phase of growth.”
Keith Moran, SL Controls CEO and co-founder said:
“The business has had an exceptional few years and continues to experience strong growth as a result of an increase in demand for our services and solutions with key partners both nationally and internationally.
“Clients are seeking our input on their systems design requirements; software integration and validation needs as well as general consultancy services and ongoing systems support. There is a particular focus on assisting them in developing and later implementing their Industry 4.0 strategies.”
Darragh McMorrow, SL Controls Commercial Director said:
“Over the last year, we have found there is an appetite among our staff for remote working or a hybrid of working from home and being in the office or on a client site. We feel very strongly that we should be offering this option to our employees – both existing and new – and allow them more flexibility in their roles, as the work allows. It might suit some people to return to the office full-time while others might find one day a week in the office is perfect for them. We are going to work with our team over the coming months to offer them this flexibility.”
Carol Gibbons, Divisional Manager ICT & International Services, with Enterprise Ireland said:
“This is very positive news for SL Controls. Enterprise Ireland has been proud to support the company on its rapid growth path and this is another significant milestone for this ambitious and dynamic company. SL Controls has a strong customer base in Ireland and is expanding its international footprint in Europe and the US and Enterprise Ireland looks forward to working with the company during this phase of growth.”
Adapting Health & Safety Policies and Procedures for the New Remote Working Environment
A lot of things changed in the workplace when Ireland and other parts of the world entered lockdown conditions towards the end of Q1 2020. For companies required to continue delivering their essential services, remote working became an overnight necessity.
Like other companies, we had existing remote working policies at SL Controls as our team includes:
- Engineers who would regularly work on client sites.
- Engineers and staff who work in SL Controls offices.
- Engineers who work between SL Controls offices and client sites.
Initially at the start of the first lockdown, this situation transformed to 100 percent remote working whilst our clients implemented their own policies and procedures. This situation has evolved throughout the year and has transformed SL Controls into a hybrid of working on client sites or remotely from home.
Keith Moran, SL Controls CEO, said: “We had several key priorities at that crucial time, including ensuring we continued to deliver for our customers. Health and safety was our top priority and remains so to this day.
“We face different health and safety challenges today with a near-total remote workforce, and the COVID-19 pandemic also presents additional challenges. At SL Controls, we have a duty of care to our employees. We also have responsibilities to our clients.
“Our clients primarily operate in the life sciences sector. Therefore, part of the services that we provide involves our engineers working on equipment in active pharmaceutical and medical device production lines. As you can imagine, these environments have strict safety rules and procedures in normal times to maintain quality and sterilisation protocols. With the pandemic, those rules and procedures have been ramped up to a new level.”
Health and Safety When Working from Home
At SL Controls, we work with each member of our team to ensure they have a suitable setup for working from home. We allowed our people to visit the office if they needed equipment, including a chair or an additional computer screen. Our goal was to mimic the setup we have in our various offices at each remote working location, i.e., the homes of each of our employees.
However, health and safety while working from home isn’t just about having a comfortable, ergonomic chair and suitable technical equipment. Working from home also presents other challenges, including childcare, with stress being something we all have to manage.
Keith said: “Something that has been very important to me and others in the senior management team is to make sure everyone on our team knows we are in this together. I know that can sound a bit cliched, but our people are dealing with the difficulties of managing work responsibilities, home schooling young children, and achieving a good work-life balance. Hey, I might be the CEO, but I’m dealing with those exact same challenges too!
“We put together a document early in the process, and we continue to promote it today. The document highlights 10 things we value at SL Controls in relation to remote working. A central purpose of that document is to help alleviate stress and assure each member of our team that support is available if they need it.”
Some of the main health and safety points on the Remote Working: 10 things we value document include:
- Creating boundaries between work and personal time to ensure personal time is respected when working from home.
- Home life happens – there is no need to apologise for it.
- The importance of maintaining human connections while working remotely and encouraging everyone to stay connected.
- Being flexible to accommodate individual needs.
- Togetherness – even when we are apart, we are in this together.
Health and Safety When in the Field
What about health and safety when working at client sites? At SL Controls, it has always been our policy that members of our team must always follow the health and safety procedures of our clients when on site. That policy has continued throughout the pandemic.
We have also implemented new procedures and initiatives. Firstly, we have a zero-risk policy when it comes to COVID-19. If a member of our team experiences any symptoms, they simply do not go onto a client site. Even with a negative test, we still take a cautious approach, preferring to wait out the government-recommended self-isolation period.
We have also developed new and innovative remote support and project delivery technologies, with security and compliance central to our unique approach. These new technologies make it possible for us to deliver even more of our services without the need to visit the client’s site physically.
Keith said: “The working environment has changed dramatically from where we were 12 months ago. The same applies to health and safety issues. Things will probably be different again 12 months from now.
“The key is to stay flexible and to quickly adapt the way we work to maintain our duty of care. Equally prioritising physical and mental health is important too.”
SL Controls Becomes Silver Renovation Patron of Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo
SL Controls has become a Silver Renovation Patron to support the planned upgrading of the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo.
The Hawk’s Well Theatre is a part of community life in Sligo, the location of our head office SL Controls. It opened its doors in 1982 but has roots that trace back to the 1950s. Since it opened, the theatre has hosted a wide range of productions, from drama to pantomime to opera to children’s theatre.
The aim of the renovation project is to improve facilities at the theatre and enhance its appearance. The work includes rebuilding the entrance and foyer, flood prevention work, the installation of a new lift, and upgrades to the auditorium’s seating.
SL Controls CEO Keith Moran said: “The arts are part of everyone’s life, and the Hawk’s Well Theatre is part of life in Sligo. It provides a fantastic outlet for people of all interests and tastes to experience and enjoy the arts.
“Like other arts venues, the Hawk’s Well has really suffered over the last year, but it has a fantastic plan for when things return closer to normal. The renovation plans are exciting, too. We are proud to get behind this modernisation of what is a great Sligo institution.”