Career Blogs

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It’s Time for a Change – Move Back to Ireland and Work for SL Controls

Are you thinking of making a change in the New Year? Maybe you’re home for Christmas to see friends and family, giving you time to consider your options. With the strength of the economy and the strong (and growing) engineering sector that now exists in the country, coming back to Ireland could be the right decision to make.

Its Time for a Change – Move Back to Ireland and Work for SL Controls


At SL Controls, we have a range of job opportunities available for Irish engineers living abroad who would like to move back to Ireland to build their careers, be closer to family, and achieve a better quality of life.

That’s exactly what one of our employees did last year. Vinnie Boyd was working in Australia but saw the opportunities available in Ireland when he was home for Christmas. He returned to Australia but a few months later he was back in Ireland working in a new job at SL Controls. Read Vinnie’s story.

Opportunities Across the Country

Engineers Ireland believes 6,000 new engineering jobs will be created in Ireland in 2019. Those jobs will be available in just about every county and region.

At SL Controls, we have offices in Sligo, Dublin, Galway, and Limerick. Those offices are strategically placed to meet the needs of our clients who primarily come from the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing industries.

Its Time for a Change – Move Back to Ireland and Work for SL Controls - map of offices


To whet your appetite, read more about the benefits of living and working in the regions where we have a base. There are advantages to each, whether you have a local/family connection or not.

Benefits of Working at SL Controls

One of the things we are proud of at SL Controls is we have a low staff turnover. The reasons for this include the work-life balance that our employees achieve, the career progression opportunities that are available, and the benefits we offer.

Benefits You Get When You Work at SL Controls


Read more about the employee benefits we offer at SL Controls.

What’s It Like Working at SL Controls

How do you know if SL Controls will be the right fit for you?

Watch the video to find out more about what we do and what it’s like working for SL Controls.


You can also get more information from some of our blogs:

Find out more about SL Controls, the projects we work on, and our clients, by watching our corporate video:


In addition, you’ll get an insight from the individual stories of some of our employees.

Ruairi O’Neill – from qualified electrician to Control Systems Engineer to Project Manager

Ruairi O'Neill

Read Ruairi’s story


Volker Winhausen – moving from a multinational corporation in the Middle East to Controls System Engineering at SL Controls

Volker Winhausen

Read Volker’s story


Martina Lenehan – switching careers to become SL Controls’ Occupational Health and Safety Officer

Employee Stories - Martina Lenehan

Read Martina’s story


Jacob Mussler – from archaeology in the USA to Controls System Engineer in Ireland

Jacob Mussler

Read Jacob’s story


Robert O’Hanlon – from being an apprentice electrician in Kildare to SL Controls’ Lead Field Engineer

SL Controls Employee Stories Robert OHanlon

Read Robert’s story


Eamon Davern – from Graduate Engineer to travelling the world as a Field Systems Engineer in less than a year

Employee Stories - Eamon Davern

Read Eamon’s story


Your Next Career Move

Ireland is a fantastic place to live and work. At SL Controls, we have vacancies for Control Systems Engineers, Validation Engineers, Factory Automation Specialists, Project Managers, Software Engineers, and Field Engineers.

Find out more by visiting our Careers Page now.

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Benefits of Living in Sligo and Working for SL Controls

Sligo is one of Ireland’s fastest growing regions and there are good reasons why. Many of those reasons are listed below, with most of them playing a role in helping people living and working elsewhere in the country or further afield to make the decision to relocate.

We’re proud to say that some of those people chose to come to work for us at SL Controls. This particularly applies to engineers, specifically control systems engineers, automation engineers, and validation engineers.

SL Controls provides equipment system integration services for manufacturers in regulated sectors including pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, and food and beverage manufacturing. We have offices around the country, but our head office is in Sligo.

If you’re a control systems, automation, or validation engineer, or you have experience in a similar field, we’d be interested in talking to you about joining our Sligo team.

Before getting further into that, let’s first explore why Sligo is such a good place to live, raise a family, grow your career, and fulfil your professional potential.

Here’s a video to get started from Sligo Chamber on living and working in Sligo:

Sligo Boasts Some of the Best Natural Attractions in Ireland

Lots of places in Ireland would claim they have the best natural attractions, but we think Sligo comes out on top. Here are some of the things on offer in this region:

  • Stunning natural scenery particularly the Wild Atlantic Way and the mountains that sweep down to the ocean
  • Surfing – after all, Sligo is home to the Wild Atlantic Way’s Surf Coast
  • Coastal walks if you prefer to stay on the sand rather than go into the waves
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Diving
  • Hiking, particularly on one of Ireland’s most distinctive and iconic mountains, Ben Bulben
  • And more

Low Property Prices

Sligo compares favourably when you look at property prices in relation to other major business hubs around Ireland – Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Limerick in particular. This applies to all styles of home too, from stylish apartments to large and comfortable family homes.

Thriving Business Community and Strong Jobs Growth

Several companies have made jobs announcements in Sligo over the past year, with many industries thriving. This particularly applies to the technology sector. In fact, Sligo has become known as ‘Silicon Sligo’ and it has become a hub for start-up companies and creatives.

There is also a wide range of companies in the area including Irish companies (like SL Controls) and large multinationals like AbbVie and Abbott.

Excellent Transport Infrastructure

Commuting into Sligo town, and to the main business and technology hubs in the town, is easy by car or public transport. Surrounding counties like Donegal and Mayo are easily accessible too. In addition, there are good transport links and road infrastructure when you want to go further afield.

Sligo’s Culture Scene

Sligo is Yeats Country, which is reason enough on its own to be attracted to the area. There is more, though, including museums, galleries, and theatres in addition to more modern entertainment venues like cinemas and attractions for children.

Sligo also has a thriving music and pub scene, both of which are crucial to nightlife in the area. There are great restaurants and cafes too.

Plenty for Sports Fans

Sligo is a great place to watch sports including Connacht Rugby and Sligo Rovers in addition to GAA and other sports. There is also an abundance of local sports clubs to participate in, including great golf courses.

Great for Families

Everything from the low cost of living to the excellent schools to the easy to achieve work-life balance makes Sligo a fantastic place to raise a family.

What About SL Controls?

Okay, Sligo is a great place to live – why should you work at SL Controls?

SL Controls is an industry leader in the provision of automation and equipment system integration solutions to regulated sectors. Our clients include many of the top pharmaceutical and MedTech companies in the world, and we’re at the cutting edge of technology.

We are growing fast too – we were named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 2018.

Our engineers enjoy a generous benefits package, excellent career progression opportunities, and so much more.

To find out more, check out our engineering careers page to learn about the positions in Sligo we are currently recruiting for.

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Advantages of Continuing Professional Development for Engineers

Do you want to move your engineering career forward? This could involve getting a more senior position, changing the industry you work in, or progressing in your current role to put you in a better position for the future. One of best ways to achieve these objectives is through continuing professional development.

This doesn’t just apply to engineering, of course, as continuing professional development is important in a range of different careers. Changing technologies, industries, and methods of project delivery, however, mean continuous professional development has an enhanced level of importance in engineering.

What is Continuous Professional Development?

Continuous professional development (which is sometimes referred to as CPD) involves gaining new knowledge, skills, and experience. It can be formal or informal and it normally has a clear direction of travel, i.e. developing a new skill to help you achieve a specific goal.

Training is part of continuing professional development, but it is not just about training. Instead, continuing professional development is about developing wider competencies and advanced understanding in areas related to your engineering career and the path you foresee your career taking in the future.

What Does Continuing Professional Development Look Like?

Continuing professional development can involve enhancing your technical skills or developing and improving leadership and management skills. It can also involve developing and improving soft skills including communication, time management, problem-solving, teamwork, presentation, and customer service skills. These skills are highly valued in modern and forward-thinking engineering companies.

The practical process of continuing professional development can take many forms:

  • Formal training where you achieve a qualification
  • Learning from colleagues on the job
  • Working on a new type of project
  • Taking on more responsibilities in your current role
  • Learning informally by, for example, reading or completing online tutorials
  • And more

Your employer may have an involvement in your continuing professional development. In fact, good employers will play a proactive role. However, the plan must be focused on you. You need to decide what direction you want your career to take so you can set goals, identify skills gaps, and put a plan in place to bridge those gaps.

Advantages of Continuing Professional Development

  • Improves your employability.
  • Keeps you up-to-date in your chosen field or industry. This is particularly important in industries going through significant change. For example, SL Controls works with many leading manufacturers in highly regulated industries like pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. New serialisation rules, as well as emerging Industry 4.0 technologies, mean our engineers operate at the cutting edge of our industry. It is exciting and hugely rewarding, but it also highlights the importance of continuing professional development.
  • Maintains freshness and enthusiasm for your job and career. Continuing professional development can also re-energise your career if you have become stagnated.

What We Do at SL Controls

Continuing professional development is important in all parts of our business at SL Controls. As a result, we have a Pathways Programme in place to help our engineers develop new skills, work more autonomously, and receive enhanced compensation.

Crucially, the Pathways Programme is not linear with all our engineers following the same route. Our engineers have options to progress technically into designer/architect/consultant roles and/or to develop people or project management skills by progressing into team lead/project lead roles.

So, where do you go from here? You may need guidance or advice to help you reach a conclusion, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide on the answer. What is for certain, however, is that opportunities exist, so get started today.

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Remote Working – Embracing Modern and Flexible Working Arrangements

Over recent years, the workplace has changed dramatically. Those changes continue as old, traditional structures of working become obsolete, replaced by models that are better suited to businesses, employees, and wider society. A major part of this change in working practices is the increasing appeal of remote working – both to employers and to employees.

At SL Controls, we are in the innovation business, delivering cutting-edge controls and integration solutions to keep our clients competitive and allow them to make the most of current and future opportunities. It makes sense, therefore, that we adopt the same innovative approach to how we run the company. A key part of that is embracing remote working.

What is Remote Working?

Remote working means the employee is performing specific work obligations required under their contract of employment from their home or other location away from their employers’ premises. In SL Controls, there different categories of remote working: Occasional, Regular, and Full Time. In any remote working situation, including in our model at SL Controls, employees continue to be an integral member of project delivery teams. Also, they will have a base office in one of our regional locations across Ireland – Sligo, Galway, Limerick, or Dublin.

Of course, regular or full-time remote working doesn’t suit all job roles, and we apply pre-set criteria when deciding whether a remote working situation is right for the company. An essential part of this decision-making process is reviewing the role requirements along with the employee’s competence and experience. We also have an assessment process to ensure the employee has a safe remote working environment.

It is important that the remote worker remains connected not just technically through phones and broadband, but also on a personal level. After all, we want to ensure any remote working situation meets SL Controls’ overall objectives while also making sure remote workers don’t feel left out or disconnected from the company culture.

With these checks and balances in place, however, remote working can be a real benefit both to the individual employee as well as to the company in general.

Why is Remote Working Important to SL Controls?

Firstly, the nature of our business means remote working is suitable for some roles.. After all, many members of our teams are engineers designing, writing, testing, and validating software programmes for companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing sectors. Providing they have an adequate working space, a laptop, and secure, encrypted access to our system, some engineers can work remotely – at least for some of the time.

In addition, allowing remote working in the right circumstances allows us to attract the best talent to the business. This, in turn, helps SL Controls to grow and helps us provide consistently high standards of service to our clients.

We have also found that remote working can help our employees achieve a better work-life balance. This improves productivity in the business.

Working Remotely for SL Controls

The summary of this article is there may be a role for you at SL Controls, even if our four Irish offices are unsuitable for a daily commute. There are no guarantees, of course, as remote working is only possible following discussion and consideration of the needs of the business.

The possibility exists, though, plus it could be the best career move you’ve made to date. So, whether you are in rural south County Cork, the North Coast of County Antrim, or anywhere between, check out our current engineering vacancies and then get in touch to explore your options.

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How to Get Engineering Experience When You Don’t Have Engineering Experience

It’s the famous jobs market catch-22 – how do you get engineering experience when you don’t have engineering experience. The problem can be frustrating as roles that don’t require experience are hard to find, very competitive, and difficult to secure.

Plus, the experience you typically need is in a real work situation. In other words, the experience you get in college working on projects will help, but it’s nowhere near enough. You need to be in a commercial environment.

To get into a commercial environment you need experience…

But you don’t have experience…

There are solutions. Before exploring them, however, there are a few things you should be aware of before you start.

The Prerequisites

There are three things you should be aware of before you begin taking steps to bulk out your CV:

  1. You must be proactive – this means you need to put yourself out there. Simply searching for formal work experience opportunities (placements, internships, etc) is unlikely to be enough. Instead, you’ll need to be forward and you’ll need to ask, remembering that if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  2. You’ll need to be resilient – you’re likely to get more no-replies and polite knock backs than successes. Don’t take this personally, though, as you need to push on.
  3. Get to know the market – This involves researching the companies that employ engineers. Remember, if you can move or are willing to travel, your chances will improve. In addition, it’s important to look at all types of company, including smaller companies. Also, be as direct as possible when making contact these companies. This involves identifying the right person in the company you’re reaching out to and finding their contact details

Where You Can Get Engineering Experience

  • Internships – larger companies may have a structured internship programme you can apply to. For smaller companies, however, you’ll need to be more proactive. This involves sending in speculative applications asking for an opportunity.
  • Apprenticeships – apprenticeships are more formal than internships and they allow you to earn while you learn. Be prepared, though, as most engineering apprenticeships are hotly contested.
  • Placement – you can also try to get a work placement through your college. Speak to your college career office and keep up to date with career office notices and website as companies may advertise their roles through the college.
  • Work experience – for many people, this is the best way to get engineering experience. The first thing to note is you probably won’t be paid. That said, you will get new contacts in the industry in addition to the work experience you can put on your CV.
  • Temporary jobs – you can also apply for engineering-related temporary jobs, particularly during traditional holiday periods.

Build Up Your Professional Network

In addition to the above, there are other things you can do that will help you get work experience. Building your professional network is high on that list as you never know what can result from knowing a well-placed contact.

Here are some tips:

  • Attend college recruitment fairs and recruitment fairs run by other organisations, particularly if they are focused on engineering.
  • Don’t just go to the recruitment fairs to walk around, though. Instead, engage with the people at company stands, show genuine interest, and establish a professional relationship.
  • Attend lectures and events at college that involve employers in the local area.
  • Keep in contact with your lecturer after you leave college.
  • Build your professional network on LinkedIn by establishing new connections.

Non-Engineering Experience Counts Too

Non-engineering experience is important as well, remember, as employers want to see you have a broad range of skills. This includes:

  • Communication skills
  • Team working skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Ability to work on your own initiative
  • Attention to detail
  • Reliability
  • Commitment

You can demonstrate all the above with experience in non-engineering jobs or through volunteering at charities, local sports clubs, or community organisations

Final Thoughts

Getting experience when you’re starting out your engineering career can be challenging, but it will reap rewards. This includes getting a full-time job, of course, but getting work experience also increases the skills you have, plus it will help you decide if the job, industry, or type of company is right for you.

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What is a Control Systems Engineer?

A Control Systems Engineer is responsible for designing, developing, and implementing solutions that control dynamic systems. Dynamic systems are systems that constantly change. The aim of a Control Systems Engineer is to bring stability to these constantly changing systems to produce the desired outcome.

It is a field of engineering that is wide and varied. One example to help illustrate the role of a Control Systems Engineers is the development of anti-lock braking systems in cars. So, according to the definition above, a Control Systems Engineer in this situation will design, develop, and implement systems that control the behaviour of the car’s brakes in various conditions, i.e. different speeds, road surface conditions, brake temperatures, etc.

At SL Controls, our expertise is in manufacturing, specifically manufacturing in regulated industries such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical device manufacturing. So, the more detailed explanation of the role of a Control Systems Engineer in this blog focuses on the manufacturing industry.

What a Control Systems Engineer Does in a Manufacturing Environment

The dynamic system that a Control Systems Engineer works on in a manufacturing environment is a production line. This could be an entire production line or part of a production line.

Most production lines have a range of different components. This includes human components as well as technological components including robots, vision systems, and more. A Control Systems Engineer integrates and coordinates all these components to ensure they work efficiently, i.e. ensuring products are of a consistent quality and that the production line meets volume targets.

How Control Systems Engineers Work

The Control Systems Engineer measures changes in the production line through sensors, as an example. Crucially, sensor technology has advanced considerably over recent years making it possible to use sensors in a much wider range of applications.

Most of the work a Control Systems Engineer does is on a computer using mathematical modelling. By using computer simulations, a Control Systems Engineer can determine how to control the system’s variables and, ultimately, the production line. They will then develop software, so this control can be applied in a real-world situation.

As automation technology is now so advanced and is becoming more common in manufacturing facilities, most Control Systems Engineers actually perform the role of Automation and Control Systems Engineers as much of their remit is to develop control systems that automate production lines.

How to Become a Control Systems Engineer

Many Control Systems Engineers start by getting degree qualifications in electrical engineering. While getting an appropriate degree is essential in getting a job as a Control Systems Engineer, having a wider range of skills and knowledge is also important. This includes:

  • Knowledge and experience of automation and control technologies and systems – examples include Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), SCADA systems, and, often, Vision Systems.
  • Software development skills – including knowledge of C/C++/C#, VB, SQL, and Java.
  • Strong mathematical abilities – as computer modelling and simulations are a core part of the role of a Control Systems Engineer.
  • Strong problem-solving skills – there are no two projects, production lines, or problems that are the same, so problem-solving skills are essential.
  • Good communication – this is especially important as a Control Systems Engineer needs to be across all aspects of the project.
  • Knowledge of network services – this includes LAN, WAN, WLAN, VPN, and more. This is becoming increasingly important given the growing use of remote access and monitoring on production lines.

In summary, to be a good Control Systems Engineer, you must enjoy making things work as efficiently as possible and in a way that delivers on objectives.

It is a rewarding career, not least because of the problem-solving element and because every day is different.

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Getting a Graduate Engineer Position in 2019 – What You Need to Know

Many engineering companies and other employers already have Graduate Engineer vacancies posted on their websites. If you secure one of these roles, you most likely won’t begin your employment until after you complete your degree in summer 2019.

In other words, there is a long lead-in time for many graduate roles. If you are not researching the jobs market and submitting applications, you should try to start now.

You need to get a good degree too, so you shouldn’t let job hunting put that in jeopardy. However, you need to start applying as soon as possible

Also, many engineering students and graduates believe getting into a large multi-national company is the fastest route to career success. This does work, but it is definitely not the only option you have when looking for Graduate Engineer roles.

In fact, getting a graduate position in a smaller company is another option. In a smaller company, you will get the opportunity to work on a wider variety of projects, you may even get additional responsibilities faster.

For jobs like Controls Engineers, Automation Engineers, and Validation Engineers, there are also substantial career progression opportunities in small and medium-sized companies.

What You Need to Know About Experience

Experience is the old chicken-and-egg conundrum when it comes to securing a Graduate Engineer position. You may increase your chances of success getting a job if you have experience, but how do you get experience if you don’t have a job. Keep an eye out for companies that offer placements, or internships. Talk to your college careers office as well, as they will have a direct link with some companies in relation to such opportunities.

Remember, also, non-engineering experience counts too.

Of course, engineering experience is important, but companies employing engineers in Ireland are also interested in finding people who are the right fit for their organisation. In other words, securing a job requires more than having all the required technical skills.

Plus, having non-engineering experience will give you the opportunity to highlight successes and achievements if you don’t have much direct engineering experience to talk about. This particularly applies if the non-engineering experience includes achieving a goal, leading a team, or contributing to a charity or your local community.

Do Things that Show You Are Proactive

Another thing you can do to make you stand out from the competition is to research, study, and learn topics that are outside what is covered in your degree. For example, if you want to work as an engineer in the pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing industries, you should make sure you know as much about those industries as possible.

Other options you have include learning additional programming languages and keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies, i.e. technologies that may not yet have made it onto the syllabus of your course.

Prepare Well for Interviews

The above will help you get to the interview stage, but what can you do at the interview to increase your chances. The starting point of preparing for Graduate Engineer interviews is to research the company to find out the work they do. Get a full understanding of the industry they operate in, the clients they work for, and their goals and objectives. This information will help you tailor your answers to interview questions.

Understand What Companies Hiring Graduate Engineers Are Looking For

Companies looking to recruit Graduate Engineers are looking for potential, i.e. do you have the potential to deliver for them in the future.

In other words, they know they will have to invest resources in you – time, training, and money. Not only that, they are willing to do this. What they want from you as a graduate or soon-to-be graduate going through the recruitment process is a belief that you have potential.

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How the West and North West’s Thriving MedTech and Pharmaceutical Sectors are Creating Engineering Career Opportunities

A recent article in the Independent featured the headline: “Forget Dublin’s Silicon Docks…Going west means tech can offer lifestyles as well as work”.

It mentioned Limerick and Galway before stating: “Now Sligo is coming up the ranks as a place to build a career, and home to game-changing tech developments.”

Of course, this is bang on the money – places like Galway, Limerick, and Sligo are now increasingly seen as places to establish business operations that require highly skilled employees. This could be an indigenous Irish start-up, an established Irish company expanding in another area of the country, or a major multinational corporation looking to tap into Ireland’s strong pool of talent.

In terms of preferred business locations, Dublin is increasingly losing out to the West and the North West.

There are many reasons for this but high up on that list of reasons to choose the West or North West is quality of life.

Balancing Lifestyle and Work

Dublin is a thriving and growing major European city, but it also suffers from high house prices, high general costs of living, and traffic problems, among other things. This can put a strain on workers as well as companies.

The West and the North West don’t suffer from these issues, particularly in cities like Sligo. In other words, house prices in Sligo are considerably lower than in Dublin, the cost of living is lower too, and major traffic problems are almost non-existent.

The West and North West also offer fantastic night-time and weekend entertainment, wonderful beaches, and stunning natural scenery.

What do you have to sacrifice professionally to get this improved quality of life, however?

The reality is you don’t have to sacrifice anything as there are ongoing and rewarding career opportunities in the region, particularly if you are a tech professional or engineer.

The MedTech and Pharmaceutical Sectors

The MedTech and pharmaceutical sectors are two excellent examples of where high-performing and career advancing employment opportunities exist in the West and North West.

Many of the world’s biggest names in MedTech and pharmaceutical manufacturing have an operation in the region including Abbott, AbbVie, Allergan, and Baxter International. There are also Irish-owned manufacturers in the area too. All these companies create employment opportunities, particularly for engineers.

However, this only scratches the surface of the potential of the West and North West to advance and build your career. This is because there is also a large and strong network of Irish companies based in the West and North West that provide support services to industries like the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing industries.

With offices in Sligo, Galway, and Limerick, SL Controls is one of those Irish-owned companies where there are opportunities for engineers, but there are many other companies where opportunities exist too.

Your Next Move

Whether you have roots in the West or North West of Ireland or not, looking to this region of the country could be the best career move you make. With the employment opportunities available, particularly in high-growth sectors like MedTech and pharmaceutical manufacturing, you could advance your career and take on new challenges.

You will also benefit from the unique quality of life that the West and North West offers.

Why not check out the SL Controls’ career page to see what engineering opportunities are available now. The West and North West would love to have you.

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