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International Men’s Day at SL Controls – Building Mental Resilience

At this time of the year, there is a lot of focus on men’s physical and mental health with the annual Movember campaign taking place throughout November and International Men’s Day this Sunday, the 19th. The theme for International Men’s Day 2023 is “Zero Male Suicide”, so we asked men on the SL Controls team about how they look after their mental health with a particular focus on building mental resilience.

Keith Moran, CEO

“Mental resilience comes into play in times of stress and high pressure – situations where you are outside of your comfort zone. Mental resilience helps bring you into a zone where you can cope and deal with the situation in a manner that is controlled.

“It’s also important to remember that you build up mental resilience over time. You are not born with it. We all have triggers, too, so it’s also important to recognize those.

“My advice is to recognize the importance of mental resilience and mental health in general. You should find ways that suit your personality and lifestyle that allow you to get into a place where your mental health is at the forefront and gets your mind in a positive place.

Winning and losing in sports over the years has also helped me build up my mental resilience

“For me, it is sport. Sport helps me get into the right mindset and it has helped me build my mental resilience. I have played squash for more than 35 years and I still play at a competitive level. It’s an individual sport that is high-intensity and, when you play competitively, there is the pressure of winning and losing.

“Winning and losing in sports over the years has also helped me build up my mental resilience. How you come back from losing in a big game, for example, and how you cope with high-pressure situations.”


Marcus Wilkinson, Automation Engineer

“I think there are lots of ways to look after your mental health. For me, I enjoy cooking and baking. I have a few signature dishes that I cook, and I have chickens so there are always plenty of fresh eggs on call. I’m the only one in the house, so I can’t eat everything that I bake and cook. But that opens other opportunities. I tend to barter some of the dishes away for different things, like vegetables from a neighbor up the road. I find baking and cooking creative, and I enjoy doing it.

So, it's creative things like sewing and baking that are positive for my mental health

“I also enjoy sewing. I’ve made outfits for all my kids over the years, but there isn’t as much opportunity these days. I do think repairing and mending are important, and I am very much into recycling and reusing. I don’t throw away things just because it has a hole in it. I repair it or find another use for it.

“So, it’s creative things like sewing and baking that are positive for my mental health. I am also very proud of the fact that I have passed this on as my eldest son also sews and makes clothes for himself, his partner, and their son.”


Vinnie Boyd, Senior Business Operations Executive

“Flying is one of the things I do for my mental health and mental resilience. First, there is the process of getting your license. You can’t just rock up and start flying, as there is a long enough process to go through that includes nine exams and over 40 hours of flying time with different milestones along the way. Each of those milestones brings their challenges, enhanced by the Irish weather, so mental resilience is important.

Whether it's on a winter's morning or after work on a summer's afternoon, you forget about the stresses and issues of the day or week once you get off the ground

“I then use flying as my escape, as somewhere to relax. Whether it’s on a winter’s morning or after work on a summer’s afternoon, you forget about the stresses and issues of the day or week once you get off the ground.

“There’s even a sociable aspect to flying as I can enjoy it with family and friends. That also helps with my mental health and mental resilience.”


Ruairi O’Neill, Project Manager

“When things are as busy as they are now, you can sometimes feel that it’s like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing day-to-day, week-to-week. That can become quite depressing, especially if you are constantly tired. My recommendation is to do something different to break that cycle, especially with the dark evenings and poor weather.

“What I did was join the Tulla pipe band.

My recommendation is to do something different to break that cycle, especially with the dark evenings and poor weather. What I did was join the Tulla pipe band

“I used to play bagpipes when I was young. Living in Tulla for the past 10 years, it was always on my radar to join the band, but I had made the excuse for myself that I simply didn’t have time. About a month and a half ago, I decided to make time as I figured you need to be doing these activities for yourself when you are still relatively young!

“So, I joined, and, within the month, I was playing at the Clare Hurling County Final and even made it onto TV!

“If I am waiting for the kids doing music lessons, taekwondo lessons, or football training, I have the practice chanter with me so I can learn new tunes. Previously, I would have been having a snooze or doom-scrolling. Now the time passes much more quickly, and I feel that I have achieved something in that hour while waiting for the kids.”


Sam Costelloe, Systems Engineer

“I am participating in Movember this year to raise awareness and support for men’s health issues, particularly focusing on mental health, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. Movember provides a platform for men to openly discuss these often-overlooked issues, encouraging them to prioritize their well-being and seek necessary medical attention. By growing a Mustache throughout the month, I aim to spark conversations and promote understanding around the importance of early detection, regular check-ups, and mental health support for men.

Hobbies are essential for preserving mental health. I unwind by going to the gym and playing the guitar. Engaging in these pastimes makes me feel good about myself

“Through my participation, I hope to contribute to breaking the stigma surrounding men’s health, fostering a supportive community, and encouraging positive change. I know that building mental resilience is very important to one’s lifestyle. Building a supportive network; nurturing strong connections with family, friends, and colleagues; having a reliable support system – all these things provide a sense of belonging and can be crucial during tough times.

“My mental health has lately greatly benefited from maintaining an active schedule. I attempt to spend time out with friends as often as possible and go to the gym on a regular basis. Hobbies are essential for preserving mental health. I unwind by going to the gym and playing the guitar. Engaging in these pastimes makes me feel good about myself. Having hobbies is key, they provide a healthy distraction, and they allow me to recharge mentally and emotionally.”


Darragh McMorrow, Commercial Director

“The biggest thing for me is to be fit to disconnect from work and what has gone on throughout the day. Two or three evenings a week, I go for a run for around five or six miles. Weekends are an opportunity to get some longer runs into the legs. On the evenings I don’t have an opportunity to run, I go for a brisk walk. This benefits me physically but it’s also to look after my mind.

I believe that sleep is essential for building my mental resilience, and running helps ensure I get the seven to eight hours of sleep I need

“When I run, I might be still trying to solve a problem from earlier in the day for the first five minutes. But then the run becomes the focus, and your mind clears. When you get back after the run, you are totally refreshed, energised, and often have a completely different perspective on things.

“One of the main reasons I run is to get a good night’s sleep. I believe that sleep is essential for building my mental resilience, and running helps ensure I get the seven to eight hours of sleep I need.

“Entering events and completing focused training plans in preparation also helps build my mental resilience. I enter about three to four events a year, whether that is adventure runs, half marathons, or something similar. Doing the adventure runs this year, I find they really test the mind, give you great focus, and take you out of your comfort zone. You are covered in muck at times, even on training runs, and you have to hold on in places to get across the terrain. But it gives me purpose and there is a great sense of achievement.

“The social element is important as well. During the week, I train on my own, but we train in groups at the weekend, and, at the events, there is a great sense of camaraderie. That helps my mental health too.”

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SL Controls Coffee Morning Raises Money for Children’s Health Foundation

The SL Controls team held a coffee morning on Halloween earlier this week to raise money for the Children’s Health Foundation.

The Children’s Health Foundation supports sick children and their families in Children’s Health Ireland hospitals as well as the urgent care centres in Temple Street, Crumlin, Connolly, and Tallaght.

Employees made their own donations and SL Controls contributed €200.

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture at SL Controls, said: “As we work largely remotely at SL Controls, it’s great for our teams around Ireland to come together for events like this, especially when it involves raising vital funds for such an important cause. Thank you to everyone involved and for all the donations.”

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Promoting Good Workplace Mental Health on World Mental Health Day 2023

As this is World Mental Health Day 2023, we are taking the opportunity to promote good workplace mental health across SL Controls. This includes issuing an updated Mental Health and Wellbeing policy to all employees that includes expanded information on the supports the company makes available to individuals and managers in relation to mental health difficulties and illnesses.

We have also launched two new posters as part of our Think Well at SL initiative. The Think Well at SL initiative is a program that ensures there is a continuing emphasis on mental health awareness in the workplace as well as providing our employees with advice, information, and practical support.

The two new posters have been sent to employees and are available on our intranet. The first encourages employees to talk if they are worried about their mental health. The second provides advice on what to do if an employee is concerned about a colleague’s mental health.

Improving Knowledge and Raising Awareness

We have also given our employees details of free webinars offered by our health insurance partner, Laya Healthcare. The webinars are running throughout the day on a range of mental health topics.

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture at SL Controls, said: “The theme for World Mental Health Day this year is ‘mental health is a universal human right’. This is something we firmly support at SL Controls, and we are proud to unite behind the initiative.

“Promoting good mental health in the workplace is as important to us as promoting good physical health. We have initiatives that encompass both priorities – Live Well at SL to focus on physical health and Think Well at SL to focus on mental health. Both initiatives, as well as our Mental Health and Wellbeing policy, are well established, but it is always important to revisit them and ensure they are regularly promoted across the company. World Mental Health Day is an ideal opportunity to do that.”

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Meet the Team: Bryan Slevin

1. Describe your job as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old.

My job is to make sure that people actually do what they say they are going to do. We are dealing with companies that make medicine and medical devices, so it’s very important that we keep our standards high. We do a lot of testing, we do a lot of verification, and we try to make sure people are doing everything correctly.

2. What types of projects are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, there are several large machines that make medical devices for one of our clients that are being built in Japan before being shipped over to Ireland. There are four machines in total. These are massive machines the size of houses. The first has arrived in Ireland. It had to be disassembled in Japan and reassembled in Ireland. We are writing tests to make sure everything works as it should, and then there will be more tests to make sure it makes the medical devices the way that it should.

Once the first machine is up and running, we’ll do the same for machines two, three, and four. It’s a large, long-term project with many aspects to it, but it is interesting stuff.

3. How did you get into the industry?

I had my own company involved in manufacturing and design for about 13 years, but the technology changed so I had to change course. So, I went to UL and did a Masters. Out of that, I met SL Controls co-founder Shane Loughlin. I kind of fell into it by accident, but it is nice, interesting work.

4. What is your proudest moment (work life or personal life)?

Work-wise, it is completing the Mechatronics Masters – at my age, going back to do a Masters. We had a great class, and we all did very well. It was a real eye-opener and gave me back my confidence that I was able to do this stuff.

5. What’s the best advice you could give to someone thinking of coming into this industry?

A lot of the work I do requires attention to detail. You need to be focused, you need to concentrate on what you are doing, and you need to really get to know the processes. You can’t do this half-heartedly.

I would say, if you’re going to do it, take it seriously, get to know people in the factory, get to know people in different disciplines. I tend to call people rather than message them a lot of the time. I find you create a better relationship when you talk to people.

Try and get onto as many different projects as you can. You meet more people, you get more contacts, and you learn more. Put yourself out there. Do the things that scare you, do the things you don’t think you’re able to do – you’ll find you can do them.

6. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Family, the kids. We spend all our time on the road going to hurling, camogie, football, music, swimming. I work on-site two days a week and at home three days a week – that has been a huge bonus over the last couple of years and has given me a good work/life balance.

7. What’s the best thing about working for life sciences customers (pharma, MedTech, etc.)?

There is a lot of variety. I’ve worked with three or four different companies now and I’ve got to see different plants, people, projects, products. You just feel like you are doing something that is going to benefit people. From that point of view, it is a nice industry to be in.

8. What is the best thing about being on the SL Controls team?

They are a nice bunch of people, very knowledgeable, very willing to share knowledge. They tend to stay around too. Most people stay with the company, so you are dealing with the same people year after year. They seem to like what they do, and they are very generous with their time and knowledge.

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Dynamic Learning Week – CPD at SL Controls

This week is Dynamic Learning Week at SL Controls. Dynamic Learning is our Continuous Professional Development (CPD) initiative where we support our employees as they enhance their skills. The aim is to foster a learning culture that is dynamic, pushes boundaries, and facilitates innovation.

During Dynamic Learning Week, we are hosting a series of events to ensure all employees are aware of the CPD opportunities and support that is available. We will be sharing information to encourage employees to decide on the learning path they want to follow and that aligns with the needs of the business.

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture at SL Controls, said: “The knowledge and skills of our people are what sets us apart from our competition and helps us build long-lasting relationships with our clients in the medical device, pharmaceutical, and technology sectors.

“However, we also work in an industry that is incredibly fast-moving, with rapidly evolving technologies and new innovations around every corner. The ability of our people to upskill and continuously learn, from junior levels up to and including our CEO, has been essential to our success and will continue to be essential in the future.

“Our Dynamic Learning program is a high priority for us as a company, so we plan to make the most of the coming week. I would like to see everyone in the company take advantage of the CPD opportunities, resources, and support that are available.”

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SL Controls Staff Attend First Aid Training Course

A number of SL Controls staff attended a first-aid training course over the summer. The training days took place at our Sligo and Limerick facilities, and they were well attended by a broad section of the team.

Senior Systems Engineer Conor Davey was one of the organizers of the training. He said: “I was happy to set up the training course because of the stories I have heard personally, including a friend who was able to help another person who was choking. My friend knew the Heimlich maneuver so was able to make a real difference in that situation.

“Logistically it was a bit of an issue, but we found a single supplier, Safetech, who was able to do in-office training sessions at both our locations on the same day. We could have done it online, but we thought in-person training would be much better for the staff involved.

“A large part of the training session involved learning how to use a defibrillator, so it was really valuable. We covered what to do if you find someone in an unresponsive state or not feeling well and the situations you should call an ambulance. We also learned about the different numbers you can ring which I don’t think many people know about.

“We also covered CPR, allergies, and what to do if someone is choking, including how to deal with all these situations with people of various ages.”

Systems Architect Volker Winhausen also helped organize the training. He said the technology aspect was particularly informative: “We covered the functionality on modern iPhones and Android phones that lets you enter medical information that can be accessed by paramedics and others in emergency situations. Things like medications you are on, things you are allergic to, conditions you have, and your emergency contacts. I think the more people who know about this common feature on our mobile phones, the better.

“We also went through the What3Words app. It is an app that you can put on your phone that has the world sectioned into grids. So, instead of needing to know your address or Eircode in emergency situations, you can give the emergency services the three words from the app on your phone, and they can then use those words to locate you.”

Conor added the feedback from the training was very positive.

He said: “All the feedback we have received was that the training was interactive, enjoyable, and informative. It also gave individuals a chance to ask questions. It was also the fact that we were able to run through emergency situations in the controlled environment of the training session to help us know what to expect if we ever encounter a similar situation.

“All in all, it was a very worthwhile exercise, so we are looking at running further sessions for interested members of the SL team in the future.”

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Meet the Team: Jisa Varghese

1. Describe your job as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old.

I write programs or sets of instructions to create applications used in medicine-making factories or hospitals.

2. What types of projects are you working on at the moment?

The current project I am working on involves creating a development environment to configure test plans to test the flow charts executed in controllers. These are mainly used to test production lines to check various scenarios and confirm the expected behaviour is met.

3. How did you get into the industry?

I graduated as a computer science engineer from college and started working with Siemens right after. During that time, I learned a lot about industrial automation, a new domain for me. I loved working with hardware, and I was able to attend hackathons that helped expand my knowledge, but I’ve always wanted to work in life sciences since childhood.

I moved to Ireland for my Master’s degree. I then found an opportunity to work with SL Controls where I could make use of my knowledge gained from Siemens and achieve my dream of working in the life sciences industry. I like to think my current role in SL Controls is a perfect example of a technical career in life sciences.

4. What is your proudest moment (work life or personal life)?

Two of them are when I participated in a hackathon when working at Siemens, and also when I single-handedly deployed a project for a large life sciences customer while working with SL Controls.

While the Hackathon was a new experience of meeting like-minded people and trying to create something novel, the SL Controls project gave me the confidence to create software and make decisions without being part of a team. Having always worked as part of a team, the project gave me ample opportunities to research and take ownership from requirement gathering to deployment.

5. What’s the best advice you could give to someone thinking of coming into this industry?

Choosing a career in tech can be a bit overwhelming if you are not sure of which way to go. Do your research on each of the roles and choose the one that aligns with your goals rather than just following the bandwagon.

Constant learning and adaptability are two important skills to develop in this field. It is also important to expand your skillset when it comes to programming. To be a software engineer in this industry, it is beneficial to be confident in any of the legacy programming languages like C#, and Java, as well as SQL. It will be a lot easier to expand to Python, R, Scala, and others later if necessary.

Another important key is to stay up to date by reading technical blogs, participating in technical conversations, and trying new projects on your own, even if they are completely new to you.

6. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

I have a wide variety of hobbies including playing badminton, reading, and taking up DIY home décor projects. I have also taken up a new mission to finish reading a minimum of one book per month. Fingers crossed!

7. What’s the best thing about working for life sciences customers (pharma, MedTech, etc)?

As previously discussed, what I find most rewarding in working with life sciences clients is the seamless integration of technology and pharma. It is interesting to develop new tools and applications as this field is constantly evolving and has lots of potential. It is also exciting as there are different varieties of technologies I get to work with. The field also provides me with opportunities to strengthen my R&D skills and achieve steady career growth.

8. What is the best thing about being on the SL Controls team?

Being part of a team of highly experienced members is very helpful. Discussions related to features and development issues always offer something new to learn. Another added advantage is resolving issues together and discovering different ways of solving the same issue.

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Promoting Healthy Living During Fitness Month at SL Controls

We ran a Fitness Month at SL Controls this summer as part of our Live Well at SL programme. It brought out some friendly competitiveness as the participants were split into teams to earn points by walking, running, cycling, or swimming.

Those taking part in the competition used the Strava app to record their activity throughout the month, and there were additional prizes along the way. As it is the summer, Ireland wasn’t the only exercise location, as some of the participants recorded their exercise activities while away on holiday.

The winning team was Catch Me If You Can who narrowly beat Ireland’s Fittest Fakers to claim the top prize. Well done to Hitesh, Brian, Norma, Liam, and Shauna. The Fittest Individual prize was claimed by SL Controls Commercial Director Darragh McMorrow.

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture at SL Controls, said: “Well done to everyone who participated. At SL Controls, we strongly believe in the health benefits of exercising regularly and promoting the healthy living message across our team.”

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SL Controls Launches Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy

SL Controls has launched its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy, reinforcing our commitment to nurturing a workplace environment that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. The aim of the policy is to create an open and inclusive culture where everyone feels valued.

Shauna Ryan, SL Controls Director of People and Culture, said: “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to how we work at SL Controls – they are values that are core parts of our ethos. The publication of our new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy documents and formalizes our commitment, priorities, and expectations.

“In the past, the focus would have been on equality, as opposed to equity. While equality, treating everyone the same, certainly plays an important role, shifting our lens to equity is a move that enhances our ability to do more. Equity takes into account the ways in which we are all unique, and we therefore adjust our treatment according to the individual needs of the person. In an equitable world, the end result is equal for all, as opposed to the treatment or support being equal.

“For me, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not topics to be discussed sporadically throughout the year. Instead, it’s about calling out our commitment to them every day. Also, it’s not always about the big things. The big things are important, but it’s about the little things as well.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

The launch of SL Controls Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy is one of a series of recent initiatives in this area. For example, we provided staff with pronoun training last month as part of Pride Month. Shauna said the feedback on that training was great: “People said they found the training valuable as they didn’t know much about the topic, but they really wanted to learn.

“As a society, we are generally more aware and accepting with a greater understanding and empathy for people in diverse groups. Arguably we are all in diverse groups. But most of us are also on a journey with many of these topics, so education is beneficial.”

Ensuring Everyone Feels Valued and Included

Shauna added that another key priority in launching the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy is to ensure everyone in the company feels included and valued.

“We are all in diverse groups but particularly for those people who feel in a minority, highlighting and emphasizing our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is important. It could be women in engineering, for example, as there are so few of them. It could be someone from a different country, from a different socio-economic background than the majority, someone with a neurodiversity like dyslexia. It’s important that all of those people – everyone – feel included and valued.

“And it is important to remind everybody else to include and value others. As a company, we are in a good place with a very accepting team. But we all have to remain continuously aware.

“When I think about it, the world has changed so much, and we have come so far in terms of acceptance in this country. For the current generation of workers, diversity, equity, and inclusion are important topics to focus on but when our children enter the workforce in the future, I don’t think they will be talking about them as much because it will be so natural. I find it so encouraging and exciting seeing where it is going.”

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