What do you do at SL Controls?
I am a Systems Architect. My role involves working with the technical and engineering leadership teams in the business to deliver solutions for customers.
Describe your job without using the words engineer or engineering.
Making stuff do stuff, so the stuff is the right stuff. And fixing stuff because the stuff wasn’t the right stuff for the stuff. It’s complicated, but it’s what I do.
Seriously though, I work on developing technical solutions for customers, and I work on strategies for the technical side of the business. This includes helping SL Controls employees build up their technical skills. I work within a team that looks at projects from a higher level to assess feasibility and deliverability, and what the resource requirement will be for those projects. This involves knowing each member of our team, their unique skillsets and experiences, and how best to utilise their talents to ensure project success.
I do still get involved in the nitty-gritty of programming and on-site support, working with pharma and MedTech customers. But my role is also a position where I use my experience in the industry to help guide the day-to-day decisions that need to be made.
Junior staff need advice, and those junior staff look to people like me for support, as nothing teaches as well as experience. With the experience level I have, I can help with the overall picture. So, not just focusing on one thing in a large and complicated project, but the overall picture. It’s also about understanding how each piece fits into the bigger picture.
What made you want to build your career in engineering?
Since I was a kid, I have always been interested in how things work. I’ve always been tearing things apart as soon as my dad gave me tools, so I could see how they work and how I can put them back together.
Engineering was all I ever looked at, so I went to university to get a mechanical engineering degree. I then started doing some automation work and that’s where I am today. Nearly everything I’ve ever done has been automation-type work.
What is it about engineering that gives you the most satisfaction or that you are proudest of?
The best satisfaction comes when a customer has a machine or line that needs some improvement, and we make those improvements. So, it’s when my work improves the everyday operation of a line or process, including when our work makes it simpler and more efficient for operators. That’s a big thing – making life better for the people that work on production lines.
I am very interested in technology, too, so I’m always looking for new and better ways of doing what we have always been doing. The argument “that’s the way we’ve always done it” never sits well with me. I believe if you’re not growing, you’re dying, and the same applies to tech advancement. If you’re not learning the new things, you’re left with nothing as the old things eventually go away. I have a real passion for learning new things.
What was your first day working at SL Controls like?
I hadn’t changed jobs in a good number of years. For me, it wasn’t just a job change, either, but a location change as well. It was also a new job in a new industry area – pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The move to a new country was a complete change-up in my life, but the SL Controls team made me feel at home, and the guys in the Limerick office welcomed me in. I have been there for two-and-a-half years now, and it feels like I’ve been there forever. It’s a good environment to be in.
Is there anything about SL Controls that makes it stand out from working at other companies?
There’s good comradery at SL Controls, and it’s a good team of people that really work well together. There are always a lot of people that are willing to jump in and help you whenever you need it. There is always someone to call if you have a problem.
It’s a good company business-wise and technology-wise too. It’s a great team of people as I said, but there is also a good focus on the employees from a company level, such as getting the right work-life balance. The company is very supportive.
It’s a challenging field to be in, and occasionally there are some long hours and tough challenges to deal with. But there is a good team backed up by the higher levels of the company that look out for you and help you develop your professional abilities while maintaining that work-life balance.
What advice would you give to people interested in joining SL Controls?
I’d say get on the website, have a look around, and see what we do. That’s what I did before I applied, and I am happy with my experience here based on the knowledge I got from my research. Then, get in touch with the recruitment team, as once you get into the technical interview round, you’ll get an engineer’s perspective of what it is like to work here. I found that really helpful.