I started my apprenticeship in refrigeration & air conditioning with a contractor in Dublin in 2003. I studied in both Cork and Dublin over a 4-year period for the off-the-job phases of my apprenticeship and subsequently qualified as a refrigeration engineer.
What was your first job?
What started off as work experience through school ended up being a Saturday job then a summer job at a cash & carry in a nearby town before I moved to Dublin aged 17.
Where do you work now?
I work for Integral who have 19 offices in the UK. Depending on my schedule, I can work from home and/or any of their offices.
What attracted you to the industry?
For 50 years my family has been involved in refrigeration, electrical and haulage businesses so I was surrounded by it, as well as mechanics, from day one. I was so fortunate to be exposed at a young age to elements of the business that I was instinctively interested in. My sisters and I spent many happy hours playing games like “shop” with endless sorts of commercial and domestic equipment growing up. If we were lucky enough we would be allowed to pull our own ice creams when vans were fixed on site for the local suppliers too. I also spent a lot of my spare time immersed in the goings -on with service and maintenance of trucks and trailers when they were not on trips. I just remember never being bored and not happy until my hands were greasy. To be able to explore, observe, learn, ask questions freely as a child I think cemented my natural enthusiasm which helped facilitate my transition into the real world and into an industry which I very much enjoy today.
Were you ever tempted to join the family business then?
No. There is no doubt the opportunity was a good one and there for the taking. Putting temptation aside, the idea of my family being involved in setting me up, keeping an eye on me, guiding me and somewhat sheltering me from real life was not going to be fair or healthy on anyone long term. The last lesson I would have learned from that scenario is probably independence. I would also have less life experience than I do today. Instead, complacency, expectation and dependency were messages I was more likely to absorb. If that bubble were to ever have burst, I would have had quite the culture shock too!! In addition, anything I have or haven’t accomplished is all my own doing which is empowering for me. They remain my best friends, and their advice and support is still invaluable, even if they are in the west of Ireland!
What do you specialise in now?
I work in the Specialist Industrial Refrigeration Division of Integral as the Business Development Manager. I research, source and develop new and existing business predominantly in the food production/processing, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, brewing, storage, logistics, life science and critical industries. We deliver comprehensive solutions to the industrial and commercial refrigeration, spiral freezer and HVAC sectors of these markets. We provide reactive service, PPM, sales, design and installation functions. Frequently clients require a turnkey solution which is advantageous working for Integral as they are the UK’s largest mobile hard services provider and have been leading experts in their respective fields for over 50 years. This translates to the provision of specialist services in the M&E, FM, fire, security, controls, sprinklers, pumps, energy management and construction sectors. Being part of the JLL Corporation further extends our capabilities and credentials as a reputable and reliable service provider. It allows us to offer something even more unique.
What excites/interests you about the industry?
Not many things excite me unless they involve speed, but what I really enjoy about the industry is the rate at which it is developing and expanding. Every day, everywhere I go I see refrigeration new and old. I am always intrigued and sometimes surprised about where I see refrigeration utilised and it makes me proud to be part of an industry that will never die, an industry that everyone needs. Seeing and being part of companies like Integral and JLL who join forces is a reflection on the industry.
How do you see your career developing?
By continuing to be part of Integral as they flourish will allow me to also grow within the division. Their extensive knowledge and expertise is the foundation which provides us with the capability to further develop and expand the business all of which I want to be part of.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
I’ve been given many pieces of advice over the years both professionally and personally by many wise and witty people, but the ones that stand out the most is to be yourself, never give up and keep your word.
What are the challenges of this industry?
The challenges we face in the industry are ever changing, whether it be in relation to global warming, legislation and with Brexit also on the horizon there are interesting times ahead. Keeping up to date and ahead where possible will be the advantage.
What are the benefits of being in your role?
The biggest benefit for me is working with people who are knowledgeable, passionate and professional. My colleagues feel the same and are keen to take the company further forward with even greater success. Having a team effort spirit in the company is a strong value to me and seeing it filter right down to our clients is admirable. No two hours are the same, my job is interesting, challenging, I get to meet new people all the time and not a day goes by where I don’t learn something.
What industry associations are you involved with, and what are the benefits?
I was recently elected as a member of the WES council (Women’s Engineering Society). WES is a charity and professional network of women, engineers, scientists and technologists who offer inspiration, support and professional development. It was founded in 1919 and has grown to international recognition today. It runs projects, campaigns etc, and its achievements are commendable. Therefore being part of WES is an exciting and important opportunity for me to develop as a person and in a professional capacity.
I am also a Member of the Institute of Refrigeration. The IOR is an industry-wide and independent charity, run by those who work in the refrigeration industry. It acts as a central resource to anyone involved or interested in refrigeration. It is beneficial to be part of the IOR because it allows me to associate with likeminded peers, regardless of their level or discipline it is where everyone has a common ground. There are always events going on which is a great way to network and learn. The IOR also ensures that the industry stays relevant which is important if we are to continue being professional at what we do.
I am a member of the steering group for Women in RACHP. Although RACHP is not always a popular choice for women, there are many women involved in all levels and types of roles. Joining forces with the IOR, WES and IIR further demonstrates the enthusiasm that both men and women feel is important to ensure that our industry can make the most of the skills both men and women young and old can bring.
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
The career opportunities, people, companies and technology out there is fantastic. Like anything ACR is a trade most people take for granted or are unaware of. Every day there are requirements for temperature control, so it can only be rewarding for anyone involved. The skills you will develop can take you anywhere in the world too.