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 Damien Mason from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Damien Mason

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Damien Mason

If you are really interested in people and have good interpersonal skills, you will find this job very rewarding.

Like a lot of jobs, you will not be using all the theoretical knowledge you gained in University or College, but you will develop significant management potential and the environment is stimulating and rewarding.

As an engineer, you will probably spend about 50% of your time in the office, and the other 50% out in the plant.

You should also expect that you may be asked if you are willing to travel abroad. This would be very attractive to most people, and a definite means to gain great experience, but it may not suit everyone.

You should ideally be a balanced person, someone with a good deal of technical knowledge, but also a good ability to deal with people.

Responsibility and challenges will be given to you from day one, and if you can handle the pressure, you will gain more and more responsibilities, ultimately leading you to gain invaluable experience, and undoubtedly onto a successful management position.

With the global nature of ICL's parent company CRH, this could be yours in Ireland or one of many countries worldwide.


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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Niamh Shaw - Science Communicator and Performer

Niamh Shaw is a freelance science communicator and performer. She combines her science expertise with improvisation and story-telling skills.

Niamh Shaw What do you do for a living?
I’m a communicator and a performer. I’m passionate about bringing all that is interesting in science, engineering and technology and telling these stories in new ways.

What’s a typical day like?
There is no typical day! I could be meeting with a science organisation to figure out how to focus on a new area for them, I could be joining a panel discussion or brainstorming on an upcoming event.

Did you always want to be a scientist?
I wanted to be everything when I was very young and I still do! I was always taking things apart and trying to figure out how they worked. There was a scientist and an engineer in there. I’m ridiculously enthusiastic about all sorts of research.

What’s your training and education?
I have a degree in bioengineering from University College Dublin (UCD). It provided me with a solid problem-solving skill-set and gave me a good foundation in lots of different kinds of engineering.

Then I did a research masters in engineering. After this I applied to the UCD food science department and was awarded a PhD position on edible films – biodegradable packaging. Following this I took a postdoctoral research position in the food science and technology department in University College Cork for almost three years.

It was then that I began to explore my artistic side. I took a sabbatical and pursued training in performance.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?
I get to meet fascinating people from all walks of life. It takes me everywhere from seeing cutting-edge industry research facilities to Blackrock Castle Observatory Cork, where I can look at the stars for a few hours. I’ll meet with theatre directors who ask me to research particular areas of science for their work. I’m also learning all the time.

What is the most challenging thing?
It’s freelance so a lot of the time you work on your own. Sometimes it’s extremely busy and at others work is very quiet. It’s not a fixed career path with a monthly wage, which can be challenging.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career like yours?
If you’re someone like me with two very strong interests where one never dominated the other, they both have to exist; the scientific, technical brain and the artistic, creative brain. That will never go away so pursue both if you can.

Article by: Smart Futures