What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Being the youngest in our family I got lots of advice from my older siblings when picking my subjects in school. I took a broad spectrum to give me a bigger career choice later so I ended up with the usual subjects Irish, English, Maths, French, and then chose Chemistry, Business Organisation and Music.
In hindsight I should have done Physics instead of Music, but I did get a good appreciation of the great composers, listened to some fantastic music for those two years and got to play in the school orchestra. I got to do Physics in college later. Chemistry was my favourite subject and we had great labs so it made my transition to Science in UCD really easy. I loved Maths too though I still struggle with the demons of statistics but there is always people around to help with that, even to this day.
What is your education to date?
My primary Degree is a BSc in Chemistry, studied in UCD. I then transitioned to Trinity to do my PhD in Electrochemistry. I did some work for National Power during that time too which gave me a feeling for the type of research being done in industry. I did 1 year of a 2 year postdoc in Magnetics in Bristol University after my PhD but decided I wanted to get into industry so I made the move to industry at that time.
When I joined HP in 2000, I continued to study. The courses supported by HP are too many to list here but they are very diverse ranging from technical and leadership skills to people skills so you can really learn to extend and hone into your natural ability. Last year I completed the IPMA Diploma in Project Management and this year I'm getting ready to sit my six sigma green belt exam this summer.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
While I don't necessarily use the subject matter of my PhD or my postdoc in any of the jobs I've had, the skills I learnt during that time are crucial. Discipline and logical thought processes are key to being successful in my mind. Working as a materials engineer you do get to call on your technical knowledge at times and even knowing where to find the information you need can save time and money.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I guess in any job you take on you continue to learn and improve your skills. I've had several opportunities to do that in HP over the last few years. I've developed technical design skills and also management type skills. While I'm not in an official management position at the moment I'm working on developing the necessary skills so that when a management position comes up I'll have what's required.