What You Need to Know About Validation and Quality Systems Engineering Roles at SL Controls
Validation and quality engineering are a core part of the services that we offer to clients. This means we have a large team of validation and quality engineers at SL Controls. That team is growing, too, as our company grows and expands into new markets.
If you are considering taking on a new role in validation or quality engineering, what opportunities are there at SL Controls, what sorts of projects will you be working on, and what is it like working for us? Maybe you are starting out in your engineering career and want to know if there are opportunities available for you.
In this blog, you will find a general overview of validation and quality engineering roles at SL Controls. If you have a specific query, however, please get in touch.
Validation and Quality Engineering Roles
The validation and quality engineering roles that we regularly recruit for to expand our growing team include:
- Computer Systems Validation Engineer (CSV Engineer)
- Validation Engineer
- Equipment Validation Engineer
- Software Quality Engineer
- Lab Systems (LIMS) Validation Engineer
- CQV Engineer
- Technical Writer
- Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
You can find a list of current vacancies on our All Jobs page.
Who We Are and What We Do
At SL Controls, we provide specialist technology solutions to clients in the life sciences sector. This includes multinational pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies. We specialise in the delivery of equipment systems integration projects with the aim of achieving objectives such as increased productivity, optimised OEE, and more efficient regulatory compliance.
We work with our clients to modernise their manufacturing and quality control processes, helping them do more with less while also ensuring they are ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
What’s the Working Environment Like at SL Controls?
The working environment at SL Controls is one of innovation and problem-solving. We have a strong team culture where staff at all levels are ready to offer help, advice, and support wherever it’s needed. We also have a strong knowledge-sharing and learning culture that includes structured continuous professional development and training programmes.
The Skills Required for Our Validation and Quality Roles
You will need a degree in a relevant discipline to apply for one of our validation or quality engineering roles. Experience working in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, or biotechnology sectors is an advantage, although it’s not strictly necessary.
There are then often job-specific skills and experience that we look for. However, we do have roles where experience is not required or can be substituted with academic experience.
One thing we do look out for in the candidate selection process is passion – passion for working with life sciences companies, as well as a passion for innovative technologies, problem-solving, and delivering on client objectives.
What Should You Do Next?
A good starting point is to visit the Recruitment page on our website. It has more information about working at SL Controls, including the extensive benefits package that we offer. You will also find out more about our approach to helping our employees achieve a positive work-life balance.
Details of our current vacancies are also on our recruitment page. And remember, if you have any queries, please get in touch.
Renaming the SL Controls HR Department – Why and What it Means
The HR function in companies like SL Controls has evolved considerably. The traditional style of HR was largely focused on compliance and recruitment. Both areas are still incredibly important, but modern companies now have a much broader range of requirements.
As a result, we recently began an exercise to clarify the list of activities that we are responsible for and undertake as an HR team. The aim was to explore the option of changing the department’s name to make it more reflective of a modern workplace.
Was our assumption correct that the term HR is out of date? Does the term reflect what we do, and does it have relevance in a modern and forward-thinking company?
Review and Decision
We listed about 35 different activities that we are responsible for or are directly involved in as an HR team. Those activities include traditional HR tasks like record keeping, leave administration, employment law, and talent acquisition.
However, there is also a wide range of other activities that don’t fall neatly into the category of a traditional HR task. Those activities include things like employee wellbeing, manager coaching and support, community involvement, and training.
In fact, traditional HR tasks were in the minority on our list. As a result, we started brainstorming ideas for a new name for the department. That new name is: People and Culture Team
People and Culture Team
Those within the People and Culture Team (formerly known as HR) also have new titles to reflect the wider scope of activities that we are involved in.
Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture at SL Controls said: “Less than a third of the tasks that we do in what used to be the HR department are traditional HR tasks, so it makes sense to change the department’s name.
“Our roles in the company centre around people, culture, and development as we provide support both to the business and to individual employees. We believe the new name for the department – People and Culture Team – is the perfect fit.”
Norma Mulligan, People and Culture Team Executive at SL Controls said: “We looked at a number of different names when going through this process, including keeping the old HR name. However, the People and Culture name just clicked as it perfectly describes, in a nutshell, the various activities, tasks, and responsibilities we have within SL Controls.”
Keith Moran, CEO of SL Controls, said: “We have always been a people business at SL Controls, and that is even more true today than it was when we started. The days of companies operating with an old-fashioned HR department are long gone. So, it is right that we should rename the department, not only to reflect what the team does on a day-to-day basis, but also to ensure there is sufficient emphasis on areas like supporting and helping our people in SL Controls and continuing to strengthen our company culture. So, I am fully behind and supportive of changing to the new name People and Culture Team.”
Employee Benefits at SL Controls
It’s not that long ago when salary was the main, if not the only factor, to influence a decision to accept a job offer at another company. Today, there is an increasing focus by employees in all sectors on the full package being offered by prospective employers. This includes salary, of course, but it also includes the wider employee benefits that are part of the role.
Jess Delahunt, Talent Acquisition Consultant at SL Controls, explained that continuously refining and improving our employee benefits package is a high priority for the company. Jess said: “We are acutely aware of the importance of an employee benefits package at SL Controls, so it is something we are constantly thinking about and reviewing.
“From my time working in the recruitment industry, benefits have become far more important, and they are now a far bigger differentiator when a prospective employee is deciding to move jobs or accept a new role. Where previously benefits were added as a small attachment to the overall offer, today they are now a point of competitive difference.
“The typical employee benefit 15 or so years ago would have been a pension. Then healthcare started being offered by many companies in Ireland.
“Fast-forward to today, and the employee benefits package that we currently offer at SL Controls features many more elements. It’s also about the quality of what is being offered, particularly in areas like pensions and health cover.
“As the HR and recruitment team at SL Controls, we continuously work with senior management to ensure the benefits package that we offer is competitive.”
One employee benefit that has been catapulted up the list of priorities recently is remote working.
“Benefits like health cover and pensions are now a given across most companies in Ireland,” said Jess. “Remote working is now the most asked for employee benefit, and it is front and centre in the mindset of candidates.
“At SL Controls, we are client-driven in terms of our approach, so we are client-driven in terms of the level of remote working that we can offer. However, we are a major advocate of remote working, so a significant number of our employees have remote or hybrid working arrangements.
“Where remote working is possible, it is something we fully support.”
Continuous Professional Development and Skills-Based Training
Jess also highlighted continuous professional development (CPD) and training as another area where SL Controls stands out from the competition. He said: “In our industry, there is always a need to upskill, so continuous professional development is a huge area for SL Controls. It is a large part of our focus, and we are strong advocates for employee training – we continuously promote CPD and skills-based training to our employees.
“We also believe we go over and above what is standard when it comes to CPD and training, both financially and in terms of time.”
Other Employee Benefits that We Offer
The other main employee benefits that we offer at SL Controls include:
- Wellness benefits with multiple ongoing initiatives to promote good physical and mental health in the workplace
- Financial wellness seminars and independent employee one-to-ones with a Financial Advisor
- Employee Appreciation activities and initiatives
- Strong ESG focus and employee involvement
- Generous employee referral scheme
- Attendance rewards
- Income protection
- Additional annual leave based on service
Jess said: “One of the things that is very important to us at SL Controls is that everyone on the team experiences the benefits package that we offer. So, when we add, update, enhance, or improve one of our employee benefits, it applies across the board.
“Generally, our approach to employee benefits is forward-thinking and innovative. This has helped us attract the talented team that we have today.”
To find out more about working at SL Controls and to see the current vacancies that we have available, please visit the recruitment section on our website.
New Year – Time to Reflect on Your Career
New year, new career is a commonly used phrase. In fact, job websites often report a spike in activity over the New Year period and into January as people look for new opportunities. Whether you are thinking about changing jobs or not, the New Year is an ideal time for an exercise that we should all do more regularly – taking time to reflect.
This can be reflecting on any aspect of life, but for this blog, we are going to focus on reflecting on your career.
Assess How Far You’ve Come
There are many things that influence the direction of our careers. The economy is one, including the differing nature of the economy in various parts of the country. Technology can also influence career direction, particularly in industries like the one we work in at SL Controls where the pace of change is incredibly fast.
Personal ambition, changes in society, and personal factors also have an influence. Then there are times when career events happen because you were in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.
The above makes it important to assess how far you have come in your career. Some questions you can answer include:
- What goals have you achieved?
- What goals are you still working on?
- What knowledge have you acquired?
- What new skills have you learned?
- Are there any good habits you have gained or bad habits you have dropped?
It is also helpful to answer the above questions in relation to the past year alone.
Other things you can reflect on include:
- What were your biggest challenges over the past year?
- What are the main positives you take from the year?
- What do you want to change or leave behind?
This reflection on your career to date and the past year specifically will help clarify what you want to do in the future.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Where do you see yourself at the end of the coming year and beyond? You might want to change job to work in a different field or different type of company, or you might want to move to a different part of the country. Maybe you are living abroad and want to return home.
It is then important to believe that you can do it, and you can do it now. One of the biggest differences between those who achieve their career goals and those who don’t is simply getting started.
So, get started by setting goals for your career and developing a plan. Maybe you need to acquire new skills or request an increased level of responsibility from your employer. Maybe you need to reach out to your network for new job opportunities or identify companies currently recruiting. The New Year period is the ideal time for making these plans.
Careers at SL Controls
If you decide you want to change jobs or progress your career at another company, we might have the position you are looking for here at SL Controls. Visit our recruitment page to find out more about the benefits we offer, what it is like to work here, and the vacancies we currently have available.
9 Soft Skills Engineers Need to Maximise Career Success
There has never been a better time to be an engineer. In many sectors, new technologies mean there are a growing number of opportunities for individuals with the right training and experience.
Therefore, it can be frustrating when you think you’ve got the perfect CV but don’t get that call back after your interview. The same applies when you don’t get a promotion you think you’re ready for. After all, you’ve got the right qualifications and technical abilities, so why didn’t you get the job?
Technical skills alone are no longer sufficient for many employers. Furthermore, technical skills alone will only take your career and levels of job satisfaction so far. So, what can you do?
One Common Career Mistake Engineers Make
Too often, engineers focus only on their technical skills and abilities, largely ignoring soft skills. Soft skills, however, are very important in almost all roles and industries.
By paying attention to the following nine important soft skills for engineers, you’ll make yourself more attractive to employers. You’ll also become a more rounded engineer, enhancing your emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, and improving your overall engineering abilities as soft skills work.
Essential Soft Skills for Engineers
Communicating complex technical solutions in a way that clients understand is becoming increasingly important.
For example, as an engineer, you might have a tendency to focus on the technical detail when clients are often more interested in finding solutions to their specific problem and understanding the benefits to their business, i.e., they are not necessarily interested in abstract theories or high-level science, particularly at management level.
So, practice delivering highly technical information in as simple a way as possible while keeping your client’s perspective in mind.
Another thing to highlight when discussing communication skills is the fact that this is a category rather than a specific or isolated skill. In other words, improving your communication skills will involve improving a range of other soft skills. You may not need all the soft communication skills in the list below, but they include:
- Active listening skills
- Writing skills
- Presentation skills
- Non-verbal communication skills
Problem-solving usually involves successfully considering the pros and cons of each solution and finding the path with the least risk involved.
Interviewers often consider problem-solving skills during the recruitment process because they show how candidates deal with challenges. After all, project managers and other leaders like having team members who don’t bring every small difficulty to their doorstep.
Problem-solving skills can also help projects run more smoothly, as well as helping to improve the business overall.
You should also explore possibilities for improving other soft skills that are closely related to problem-solving skills. Examples include:
- Innovation skills
- Brainstorming skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Research skills
Having intellectual curiosity can also help improve your problem-solving skills. Being intellectually curious will help you think out-of-the-box, find solutions, and question why things are done the way they are.
In some situations, you can classify organisational skills as technical rather than soft. For example, good code needs to be well structured and organised. That said, there are also organisational skills you should improve that are non-technical.
These include punctuality, task management, and not taking on more tasks than you can handle.
Specific skills that come under the organisation soft skills umbrella include:
- Time management skills
- Goal-setting skills
- Planning skills
- Prioritisation skills
Finally with this one, there are apps available that help you stay organised, complementing your soft skills development.
A good definition of leadership as a soft skill is taking responsibility for yourself and also for the people you work alongside. Remember, you don’t have to be in a managerial position to be a leader. Leadership is also about things like keeping the right distance from a task (so you can see the bigger picture), setting the right example, and motivating others when things get tough.
Hone this skill, and don’t forget to celebrate your leadership successes. Remember them as best practice examples, too, so you can use them as a stepping stone for promotion.
Areas you can work on in relation to leadership skills include some already highlighted, such as communication skills and organisational skills. Strategic thinking, personal development, and team development skills are also important.
There are many engineering tasks that you will do alone. Writing code is a good example. Individuals can’t complete large engineering projects alone, however. Instead, they require teams and, by extension, teamwork.
As a result, teamwork is usually a non-negotiable soft skill in engineering. In other words, employers want you to be just as committed to successfully achieving team and company goals as you are to personal goals.
With rapidly advancing technologies, the reality of clients changing requirements, the increasing use of agile development techniques, and other factors, adaptability is an essential soft skill to improve. In fact, being willing and able to quickly adapt to situations is a skill highly valued by employers.
In engineering, creativity is about finding new ways of looking at things. By developing this valuable soft skill, you’ll be able to, for example, develop innovative products or project solutions. Creativity can also help you solve a problem or successfully deal with an unexpected situation.
Interpersonal Skills and Emotional Intelligence
Interpersonal skills are, in a sense, an umbrella term for several soft skills, including active listening, social perceptiveness, and being able to handle feedback. They all centre on emotional intelligence.
While it may not be possible to have great relationships with colleagues and others in all situations, developing your interpersonal skills will help you, those around you, and the company you work for.
Finally, giving customers more than they expect helps to nurture long-term and loyal relationships. After all, customers are crucial to the success of most businesses. As a result, companies are more focused on customers than ever before. Developing your own customer service skills will help you contribute to the company’s efforts.
How to Improve Your Soft Skills
You can complete training courses to improve your soft skills. Experience is important, too, so be open to taking on leadership responsibilities while also being adaptable and flexible. For example, be willing to take on new roles or projects, even if they are outside your comfort zone.
You should always be ready to learn, embracing constructive feedback from wherever it comes from. Building strong relationships and regularly communicating with those who can help you grow and develop will help too.
Developing a Continuous Improvement Mindset
Becoming a master of the soft skills above is a lifelong objective, so don’t expect to have all of them figured out quickly. Instead, focus on those you consider are your weakest, set goals, develop a plan, and constantly review your progress. The reward will be increased engineering success.
The Importance of Mechatronics Engineering and How to Become a Mechatronics Engineer
Mechatronics engineering is currently one of the most important fields of engineering in terms of Industry 4.0 and the ongoing technological advances this latest industrial revolution is bringing. Mechatronics engineers are pushing boundaries, enhancing productivity, and driving efficiency savings in a range of industries and sectors.
This includes the life sciences and technology manufacturing sectors. What exactly is mechatronics engineering, however, why is it so important, and how do you become a mechatronics engineer?
What is Mechatronics Engineering?
Mechatronics engineering involves the integration of electrical, mechanical, and software components to develop products, systems, and solutions. In other words, it is an interdisciplinary field of engineering.
Previously, you would have had mechanical engineers who would work on mechanical components and products, electrical engineers who would do all the electrical elements, and computer engineers who would look after the computer hardware and software aspects.
Modern solutions require much deeper integration of these engineering fields, creating the need for engineers with mechatronics skills.
It isn’t just electrical, mechanical, and software engineering, however, as mechatronics engineers also need expertise in a wide range of other technologies and specialisms. This will vary from company to company and project to project, but examples of the other technologies and specialisms that are commonly part of mechatronics engineering include systems engineering, robotics, controls engineering, data science, and software engineering.
Why Mechatronics Engineering is Important in Industry 4.0
There are many reasons why mechatronics engineering is important in Industry 4.0. Six of the most relevant are highlighted below.
Moving Towards the Smart Factory
Mechatronics engineering is essential for advancing automation in manufacturing and making factories smarter and more efficient. It also helps to optimise workflows and processes on production lines, improve OEE (overall equipment effectiveness), and deliver a range of other production and business benefits to manufacturing organisations.
Mechatronics is a field of engineering that advances and innovates on a daily basis. In the past, for example, automation might have involved automating and improving single production lines or parts of a production line. Today, however, automation technologies can involve a much wider range of business areas and processes. This includes automating decision-making and enhancing integration through all parts of the business, in addition to integrating operational technologies.
Mechatronics engineering is also important in Industry 4.0 because it is multidisciplinary. In the factories and industrial facilities of today, modern challenges require engineers with a broad range of skills. The field of mechatronics engineering provides companies with the engineering skills they need.
Reducing Labour Challenges
Mechatronics engineering is also helping to solve labour shortages in various industries. It is doing this by helping companies automate, reducing the need for staff to carry out repetitive tasks. This results in efficiency savings, but it also solves recruitment problems where companies struggle to hire and retain the staff they need.
Focus on Adding Value
This point follows on from the above point. Traditionally, manufacturers would employ staff to carry out manual and repetitive tasks. These tasks were essential, but they were not about adding value to the business or driving the business forward.
Solutions developed by mechatronics engineers allow staff to move away from these repetitive and manual tasks to instead work on tasks that are value-adding.
The field of mechatronics engineering helps companies remain competitive in a world where technologies are making it possible to do more with less, faster than before, and in a more personalised way.
For example, smart technologies exist that allow the integration of factories across multiple sites, as well as technologies that maximise output, flexibility, and reliability. This is the competitive environment faced by manufacturers across most industries, highlighting the need for continuous modernisation and improvement. The field of mechatronics engineering makes this continuous push to modernise and improve possible.
Becoming a Mechatronics Engineer
The starting point for becoming a mechatronics engineer is to get the right qualifications. An example is a mechatronics engineering bachelor’s degree. Another common route into the field is to get a mechanical engineering or electrical engineering degree first before moving into mechatronics. This could be through on-the-job training and experience or through further studies, including studying for a master’s in mechatronics.
You then need to gain as much experience as possible. Employers value experience as it demonstrates you have the multidisciplinary skills that are essential in the field of mechatronics engineering.
Finally, you need to commit to continuous professional development. Most engineering fields develop and change over time, but none more so than mechatronics engineering. So, constantly broadening and improving your skills is essential.
Taking a Positive Approach to Workplace Mental Health
There are many ways to shape a workplace mental health programme. In some situations, it can be a simple box-ticking exercise on a CSR to-do list. A more serious and considered approach looks to mitigate the potential negative impacts that the workplace can have on mental health, including mental illness and stress.
These latter points are essential and should be part of any workplace mental health initiative, including ours at SL Controls – Think Well at SL.
However, we believe it is important to go further. We believe in taking a positive approach to workplace mental health, where wellbeing is actively promoted.
In other words, focusing as much on improving mental wellbeing in the workplace as we do on avoiding the potential negative impacts that work can have on mental health.
Taking this approach has benefits for employees, with improved workplace wellbeing. It also has benefits for the wider company, from HR benefits to improved motivation to enhanced collaboration and innovation.
Overall, a positive approach to workplace mental health makes us a better company for everyone.
The Practicalities of a Positive Approach to Workplace Mental Health
So, what does this proactive approach to workplace mental health look like? It includes the regular features of company wellbeing programmes, such as encouraging open dialogue and eliminating the stigma that too often surrounds mental health. However, there are other elements that may not have the same direct and obvious impact, but that are still crucially important.
This includes helping employees achieve their career goals by encouraging, promoting, and facilitating professional development. This can be through new opportunities with different projects and teams, training opportunities, and routes for career advancement. By doing this, we want to ensure our team has the skills and experience required to deliver for our clients. However, it also ensures our employees feel valued and that their contribution matters, in addition to being satisfied with how their career is progressing.
We also work to build relationships and connections within teams and business units, as well as in the wider company. While this has been more of a challenge than normal recently with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, we have run several remote staff social events.
This isn’t the only way to build relationships and connections in the workplace, though, as we also have a mentorship programme, resource-sharing initiatives, and regular company communications.
Furthermore, we provide information, tips, and advice to improve workplace wellbeing, and we run events that encourage active participation. A good example is a recent remote cycling challenge that members of the team took part in.
We also recognise at SL Controls that we don’t have all the solutions. We continuously seek to improve all aspects of our business, from the delivery of services to our customers to our approach to workplace wellbeing and mental health. This ambition for continuous improvement benefits everyone on our team.
How to Get Your First Job as an Engineering Graduate
Getting that first full-time job as a graduate engineer can be tough. It can also be frustrating, particularly when you hear that Ireland needs more engineers. This is because many of the jobs that are available require experience, even though they are graduate jobs.
You do have options, though. Here are our tips for getting your first job as an engineering graduate.
Start as Soon as Possible
It is never too early to start work on getting your first job as an engineer. This doesn’t necessarily mean applying for jobs. You should, however, start the planning and preparation work as soon as you can. This includes getting experience, researching potential employers, being aware of what is happening in the industry, and preparing your CV.
Get as Much Experience as Possible
Getting experience is one of the trickiest parts of the process, but it is also essential.
The ideal option is to get a placement in a company that operates in the field of engineering you want to go into. A placement will give you the experience you need, plus you will get a clearer indication of what you want to do next.
If a formal work placement through your college course is not possible, you should still seek out work experience wherever you can. You should even apply for temporary jobs in your chosen field over the summer months – every bit of experience you can get, even if it is only a day, will help.
Remember, all the experience you have outside your studies will be of benefit too. This includes jobs that are not related to engineering or if you help run a sports club or local organisation.
After all, employers want more than just technical skills from the people they recruit. They also want communication skills, problem-solving skills, teamworking abilities, flexibility, and more. You can show experience of these skills in almost any job.
Tidy Up Your Social Media Profiles
Your social media profiles need to look professional. That doesn’t mean corporate, soulless, and stuffy profiles that are all about work. Instead, your profiles on social media should reflect your personality while also portraying someone trustworthy and employable.
Pay particular attention to your LinkedIn profile, setting one up if you don’t already have one, and optimising the page if you do.
Check Your Email Address
Do you still have an email address that you registered years ago but now doesn’t present a professional image of you as a potential employee? You’re not alone, but now is the time to get an email address that gives the right impression.
Don’t Just Target Your Ideal Job
When you start looking for graduate jobs to apply for, don’t just focus on your ideal job at your ideal company in your ideal industry. Being more flexible and open will increase the opportunities that are available.
Do Target Small and Mid-Sized Companies
Large companies offer benefits, but some of the most exciting technologies and projects can be found in Ireland’s small and mid-size companies. Often these companies are located outside Dublin.
In addition, you will be exposed to a range of different experiences when you work for a smaller company, giving you better opportunities to enhance your skills, work in different sectors, and more.
Speak to Your Lecturers in College
Your college lecturers will have contacts in the industry, so they will know the companies that are open to recruiting graduate engineers, particularly in the local area.
Speak to Your Contacts
Speak to people you know in the industries you hope to work in. This could be family, friends, acquaintances, or other connections. It is surprising how often these conversations can lead to the submission of an application form for a job you weren’t aware of. Even if they don’t, you might come away with helpful advice.
Go to Careers Fairs
Careers fairs allow you to find out about companies that recruit graduates, and they give you the opportunity to speak to these companies in person. You can also increase your network of contacts.
Tailor Your Application
When applying for a vacancy, make sure you tailor your application as much as possible. This will take you longer to complete, but it will also increase your chances of being called for an interview.
Finding out about the company can help. Also, make sure you include relevant keywords and phrases when completing your application, paying attention to the job description when doing so. Recruiters look for these keywords and phrases when filtering through applications, while some companies use automated systems. By tailoring your application, you are likely to have more success.
Prepare Well for Interviews
You should also spend time preparing for job interviews in advance. This includes researching the company to give you a better understanding of its products, services, customers, and the industries it is involved in. It can also be helpful to learn about the background of the company and to understand its ambitions.
Keep Going and Stay Positive
Finally, don’t give up. As with graduate positions in other industries, you may face rejection multiple times before you secure a job. It will be worth it in the end, though, so stay focused, stay positive, and keep going.
Bonus tip – keep an eye on our website for potential engineering graduate vacancies.