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 Fergus O'Connell from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Fergus O'Connell

Quality Officer

BioPharmachem Ireland

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  Fergus O'Connell
A broad science background is very important. An ability to recognise small inconsistencies is equally important. For example do you recognise small discrepancies between different camera shots of the same scene in films and TV series?

An ability to question everything and think laterally is important. Also the ability to say 'no' (not everyone is comfortable doing this). Working in quality is not about being popular and definitely not about being a tyrant but one needs to be approachable, consistent and have good interpersonal skills.

Not all of your decisions are going to be popular but they need to be based on a sound rationale and you need to be able to support them. One also needs to be acutely aware of the fact that your opinion won't always be right.

One must always be open to being convinced of an alternative argument.

Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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Senior Economist - OECD

"Recruitment is rigorous but careers are rewarding." William Hynes, Senior Economist - OECD

My career began at Trinity College Dublin, where I was a student in economics for six years. I gradually built up my knowledge of maths, statistics and economic theory through graduate courses.

As my studies and research developed through a Marie Curie Fellowship at the London School of Economics and my doctoral studies at Oxford University, I began applying the tools and insights of economics to historical and policy-related questions.

My interests were mostly in the area of international economic policy and globalisation. Following a number of short-term policy related roles, I got my first taste of international organisations working as an economic affairs officer in the Office of the Deputy Director General at the World Trade Organisation. While there I helped launch the aid-for-trade initiative to mobilise support to developing countries to connect to global markets and overcome their supply-side constraints.

I continued to work on these issues during my first assignment at the OECD beginning in 2009, while also contributed to the green growth agenda looking at how developing countries could achieve economic and environmental goals simultaneously.

In October 2014, I became a senior economist working on New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) in the Office of the Secretary General. This initiative is an organisation-wide reflection process to draw lessons from the financial and economic crisis to improve OECD analytical frameworks and policy advice. While developing my policy career, I remain connected to academia through an adjunct professorship in international economics at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

Before I joined I was well aware of the OECD as a source of comparable economic data, but I was unfamiliar with the breath of its activities. The OECD welcomes 40,000 delegates every year, in 250 committees, working parties and expert groups covering a diverse range of public policies. Delegates aided by secretariat come together to agree rules and standards, think about, review and discuss how pressing economic, social and environmental problems can be tackled. OECD offers challenging and interesting opportunities.

Recruitment is rigorous but careers are rewarding. It has a multi-cultural environment, with staff from various backgrounds with different expertise. It is a great institution in which to learn more about the policy-making process, the machinery of public policy and to be part of a team that helps governments address key global challenges through better policies for better lives.

Article by: William Hynes