Once a fortnight our ‘What it’s like…’ series will interview a member of one of the governance boards, highlighting their work, their role in the Engineers Ireland community and advice for members interested in becoming involved. This week’s interview is with Dr Josette Galligan, chair of the Board of Examiners.

On behalf of Council of Engineers Ireland, the Board of Examiners is responsible for ensuring that adequate and consistent professional engineering standards are maintained.

This includes supervising and maintaining quality assurance of the professional review procedures leading to the award of the registered professional titles of Engineers Ireland to qualified candidates and selecting interview panels, in consultation with the membership team, who make the arrangements for professional interviews. The board generally meets eight to nine times a year.

Dr Josette Galligan, chair, Board of Examiners, Engineers Ireland

Dr Josette Galligan, a biomedical engineer, has been a Chartered member of Engineers Ireland since 2003. Galligan joined the Board of Examiners in 2013, having previously been involved in its work as a regular contributor to professional interview panels. She then become chair in 2018.

Considering why she decided to join the board, Galligan says that a key motivating factor was that it was an “opportunity to get more involved in Engineers Ireland, and to participate in one of its core functions”.

Orientation session

Remembering when she first joined the board, Galligan notes that the joining process was supported by an orientation session, which made it easier to fully understand the particulars of her position as a member.

"There were two of us joining the board, and an orientation training session was organised for us by the membership team. During this process we were introduced to the roles and responsibilities of the board, and the statutory responsibility of Engineers Ireland to maintain the register of professional engineering titles.

"Neither of us had been aware of this statutory responsibility, and I remember at the time that we both looked at each other at this point, a little bit daunted by the responsibility. Having the orientation for just the two of us emphasised the importance of the board but ensured that we were prepared to take on our roles.”

This orientation proved to be very beneficial as it helped prepare Galligan for the more challenging elements of the board’s activities. “Its role is to maintain the high standards of Engineers Ireland by ensuring that the candidates who apply for professional titles have the competencies required of as professional engineer which, in turn, will also ensure their professional success.

'A modest bunch'

"The challenge for the board, and for interview panels in general, is to draw out the candidates’ experiences and competencies. This may be because we engineers are a modest bunch, used to communicating the facts and figures of a design or project, and not our roles and achievements in their development or implementation.”

The work of the board also encompasses supporting unsuccessful candidates, providing them with guidance and advice so that their next application will be successful.

“When we review the reports of all unsuccessful interviewed candidates, we ensure that those candidates receive the feedback, help, and encouragement to succeed the next time they apply.

Seek the help of a mentor

"We often add the recommendation that the candidate should seek the help of a mentor, who can play an important role in assisting candidates in preparing their reports and preparing for the interview.”

Reflecting on her experiences on the Board of Examiners, Galligan affirms that it is learning about the candidates’ projects and work that is the most rewarding aspects of being on the board.

“Even without being on the board I find the experience of interviewing very rewarding. I enjoy reading the reports and interviewing the candidates, learning about the excellent work they have carried out, and the contributions to society they have made as members of Engineers Ireland.

“Our role is to ensure a fair and transparent process for the candidate and the panel, and to ensure that the rules have been followed. So, we take our time to evaluate each report, and to seek clarity and additional information when required.”

The work of the board also goes beyond assessing applications. Recent projects that it has been involved in include the development of new interview reports and a new scoring system, the further development of application guidelines and reviewing applications under the EU Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive.

Reflecting on the different aspects of the board’s role, Galligan notes the work is “varied and continuously evolving. There is always something to be gained when participating in this type of activity, whether it is gaining a new perspective, or gaining a greater insight into an organisation”.

The Board of Examiners is appointed by Council for a three-year term. Vacancies on the Board of Examiners arise as members stand down having served a term or terms. The current board was appointed for a three-year term by the Council of Engineers Ireland in September 2018.

Engineers Ireland could not function without the active participation of so many of our members who give so enthusiastically of their time and talents to serve the profession.