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 Elva Bannon from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elva Bannon

Mechatronic Engineer

Smart Futures

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  Elva Bannon

I found having education in a number of different areas of engineering to be beneficial to the work I am doing.

There is a whole world of possibilities out there for engineers, and it is difficult to know what subjects are necessary for the industry you will end up in. I was always interested in robotics and environmental issues, but it was not until my Masters that I really knew what I wanted to do.

General entry courses are quite useful, as you get a taste for a few different areas before you have to specialise, a lot of companies offer on the job training, and there is also the possibility of further study.

An engineering qualification teaches you so much more than just the technical subjects, but a way of looking at the world and solving problems in a logical and systematic way.

Engineers are sought after for these skills as much as the technical ones, and it opens up incredible opportunities. Engineering is not an easy route through college, but it is incredibly rewarding.


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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Sinead McCool - Product Innovation Officer

Sinead McCool, a qualified pharmacist, talks to Smart Futures about her diverse career.

What is Pharmapod?

Pharmapod is a cloud-based platform that allows you to document any error or near miss that occurs during dispensing and preparation in a pharmacy, such as misreading a doctor’s handwriting or dispensing the wrong dose of medication. Recording and addressing errors allows pharmacists to prevent them happening again. Pharmapod also helps pharmacists to meet legal and regulatory requirements in this area.

What are your main responsibilities?

The product is well established in Ireland and we are pushing to move into the UK. I am liaising with pharmacy groups there, running pilots and looking at customer feedback to keep improving the product. I’m trying to make the system as user friendly and intuitive as possible.

What subjects did you take in school and did they influence your career path?

I was always interested in Science and did Biology and Chemistry for the Leaving Cert. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I was finished, but Pharmacy was suggested to me and I’m delighted I studied it.

What did you do after school?

I did a degree in pharmacy in the UK. Then I completed a year of training in a community pharmacy to become a qualified pharmacist. I wanted to work in the clinical side of things, so I completed a clinical pharmacy diploma in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. A few years later, I did a Masters in medical education in Queen’s University Belfast.

Can you outline your career path?

After my clinical pharmacy qualification, I worked in a hospital just outside Edinburgh. Then I worked in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin, followed by a hospital in Kilkenny. I also taught at the School of Pharmacy in Trinity College and worked for the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. From there, I began working with the School of Pharmacy in University College Cork (UCC) as course coordinator for their masters in clinical pharmacy. Working with Pharmapod is quite different, but the skills I have from clinical pharmacy and medical safety in hospitals help me with my job.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

If you like science, pharmacy is a really interesting degree that combines biology and chemistry. It’s a broad science degree, but it includes a lot of patient-focused areas and the range of things you can do once you’re qualified is huge.

What inspires your love of science?

I tend to ask ‘why?’ a lot. Science usually gives me the answers.

Article by: Smart Futures