Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.

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Investigative 
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Sheila O'Connor - Engineering Project Auditor

Sheila O’Connor is a qualified engineer who works as an Auditor at the ESB.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background.

I work in Internal Audit at ESB. The team has people from disciplines ranging from IT to accounting to engineering. As a team, Audit is responsible for the review of activities across ESB Group – to give independent assurance to the Board and management that the internal controls that are in place are adequate and effective, that the risks the company faces are managed appropriately and that value for money is obtained across all activities.

Q: What does your job involve?

Over the course of a year, I would be involved in 8-10 audits. The audits would be in different parts of the business and would range from audits of engineering projects (e.g. new stations/wind farms, generation station overhauls), to processes (e.g. the process for setting the electricity prices), to systems (e.g. looking at the system in place to control and operate the network). Occasionally there’d be an audit of ESB’s overseas operations (e.g. Spain, Malaysia).

Q: Describe a typical day I’m not sure that there is a typical day!

Many of my audits tend to be different. But there are some common elements, for example I’m likely to be involved in interviews (in person, by telephone or via video conferencing), and I’m likely to be involved in managing the audit team. A number of the audits I’m involved in will be in areas in which I have no specific knowledge or expertise before the audit. So before an audit, there will be an element of looking outside of the company to see what best practice is, or what new direction the industry or experts are recommending.

Q: What do you like about your job?

There are only a small number of areas that I have audited more than once, which means that all of the work is new and interesting, and I’m learning all of the time. When I moved into my current role, I had spent most of my career in one part of ESB. I chose Audit as it gives me a chance to see all of the different areas of work available across the company

Q: You qualified as an engineer but you seem to have moved away from that now

One of the key advantages of an engineering qualification is that it prepares you to work in so many disciplines outside of engineering.

For example it instills you with a project management ethos, it cultivates an investigative approach, it encourages an openness to learning in new areas.

Article by: Smart Futures