Thomas Murphy is a reliability, asset management, project management professional with a strong electrical background and 20 years’ experience across a range of industrial sectors. He has vast experience on large-scale projects with global leaders in the data centre, power generation, FMCG and bio-pharmaceutical areas.

Thomas Murphy.

He has gained experience in many areas of the business including safety, quality, engineering, maintenance and operations with key responsibilities including developing asset management and performance site strategy, driving continuous improvement philosophy, providing operational leadership and execution of projects.

Murphy has been working in the biologics industry for the past number of years. He  worked as an electrician and is also a former graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, and has a degree in engineering reliability management and PMP® certification. He is the chair of MEETA Asset Management. He is a member of Engineers Ireland and the Project Management Institute.

1) When did you first become interested in engineering

Throughout my school years, I always enjoyed maths and science subjects, and growing up on a farm there was plenty of machines and tasks to generate interest in how they worked, and trigger problem-solving skills and attain some important life lessons. One of those lessons came while feeding cattle and learning about the working of electricity by pouring water into a cattle trough over an electric fence while holding a metal bucket!

I didn’t take the traditional third level route into engineering, I went the trade route, qualifying as an electrician and heading back to college on a part-time basis to complete degrees in reliability engineering and sustainable energy engineering through Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, and Technological University Dublin, respectively.

2) Who were the mentors who helped you on your way? 

I’ve been extremely lucky to have many great mentors in all my roles to date who have provided excellent support and advice on my career development, which helped me grow as an engineer and inspired me to push boundaries and challenge the status quo.

3) Your engineer hero, or the nearest you have to one?

I don’t have a standout engineering hero, but there are a number of innovations throughout the years that I have admiration for; the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison had a big influence on modern life.

Harry Ferguson who hailed from Co Down also made a big contribution to farming life by coming up with the three-point linkage system, which allowed agricultural implements to be attached to the tractor rather than trailing behind. The basis of this system is still to the forefront of farm work today.

The biotechnology world has seen vast innovation change with the emergence of cell therapy treatment in recent times. Cell therapy refers to placing new, healthy cells into the body to replace diseased or damaged ones. This will have a huge impact for the outlook for patients with some of today’s most serious and life-limiting diseases.

4) What are your favourite engineering feats? 

Having recently visited London, I was fascinated by its transport infrastructure, in particular the London Underground. The Tube dates back to 1863 and now carries 1.35 billion passengers annually over a 402km network.

Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge.

In Ireland we have made wise investment in our road/motorway network, which allows relative ease of travel to most of the country. Two important engineering feats aiding movement are the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge located on the M1, providing a connection with the north of Ireland, and allowing the journey to be completed in a little less than two hours.

Dublin Port Tunnel is also a wonderful feat, aimed at reducing HGVs in the city centre as well as reducing pollution and noise; it drastically reduces the journey time to the city centre, albeit at a cost.


With an electrical background I’ve always been fascinated with Ardnacrusha, it is an engineering feat which has stood the test of time and was an important driver in rural electrification in Ireland.

5) What is/are the most important trend/s in engineering right now? 

The main important trends emerging in engineering at present are sustainability and digitalisation. First, regarding sustainability, there is now a very clear focus on climate change and the impact to the environment. A growing emphasis on waste reduction, use of plastics, use of renewable energies is now becoming the norm in modern life.

Digital transformation/industry 4.0 is also having a big impact on industry and revolutionising our ways of working by optimising processes and improving productivity through data analytics and artificial intelligence. Robotics is also advancing rapidly, particularly in areas like manufacturing and healthcare settings.

6) Regarding data centres, how do we continue to attract inward investment in this area while ‘avoiding blackouts or using up too much electricity’?  

It is fantastic that Ireland can attract major foreign investment from some of the world’s biggest companies. In this digital age, there is a massive demand for reliable data storage and with Ireland’s location on the edge of Europe, attractive corporate tax rates and its suitable climate.

It has become a sough-after location for data centres. This should be embraced but obviously a consequence of all this is that data centres are an extremely significant consumer of electricity, and they are currently attributed with usage of about 20% of the total usage.

With the problem identified and well highlighted, now it’s time to task the data centre providers with finding a solution through infrastructure planning. Peak demand times and when there is little renewable electricity available are proving to be problematic times.

The logical option is to increase more generation, but this would have a negative environmental impact. To alleviate this issue, I would explore the idea of the data centre installing renewable sources such as solar and wind power to negate some of the pressure on the grid. This would mean dispersing to suitable parts of the country in order to achieve this, and possibly working together in clusters. As battery storage technology develops, this should be looked at too.

7) What are your favourite book/s? And what are you currently reading?

I like to read and enjoy the separation from devices and screens. A interesting book I’ve read in recent times is The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox. It is written in a fast-paced, thriller style; it is the gripping novel which guides management thinking through a process of ongoing improvement!

I also enjoy crime thrillers, with a particular appeal for authors Harlan Coben and Lee Child. I am currently reading Fool me Once by Harlan Coben. The book is an international bestseller and has featured as an eight-part series on Netflix starring actress Michelle Keegan.

8) What is the one piece of advice you would give to somebody starting out in the profession?

Have a learning mindset and approach every situation with a good attitude. You can only control the controllables, and attitude is one you can control.

Engineering is a profession that is changing and evolving quickly, with new methodologies and technologies coming on stream regularly, so it is very important to stay updated with the latest advances.

Ensure you map out objectives for yourself as a look-ahead and, equally, don’t fear reflecting on your day/week /month/year to evaluate what worked well and what could be improved. Your career is one of continuous improvement.

9) Are there any other measures that we need to take in order to help improve the gender balance within the profession?

The biggest challenge for gender balance in engineering is breaking the perception. The perception that you have to be a certain type of person to be an engineer. Whether that be good at maths or be a certain physical side, some cohorts are misinformed about the profession and the range of skills needed. Language plays a big part in all of this.

Gender bias is a huge societal issue, and not just in engineering. People are surprised if they come across a female trades person such as a plumber or mechanic, the same surprise is expressed if there was male childcare worker or a male midwife. This thinking exists from within the home from a young age, if a child played with Meccano or a farm they would be considered 'boyish'. Until this mindset subsides and changes, the gender gap will struggle to close.

Schools have a big part to play in the gender balance in engineering, with young girls exposed to STEM activities, interaction from companies within the industry to promote the various elements of the profession and act as role models for aspiring young people. Unless young people are informed about what types of engineering exist and the opportunities within them.

There is a positive move towards transparency with the reporting gender data and metrics, which will help drive awareness and encourage companies to take action towards achieving gender balance.

10) Looking back over your career, is there any project, or particular time in your life, that stands out?

I’ve been extremely lucky to work on many rewarding projects throughout my career. The one stand-out one was in an iron ore mine in Gällivare, Sweden. Gällivare is a small town 100km north of the Arctic Circle and provided the experience of the spectacular spectacle of dancing light known as Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Nighttime temperatures reached  -33°C during my stay, which was an experience.

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights in Gällivare, Sweden

11) Is there any engineer you wish was better known? 

There are many great emerging Irish engineers and one that is fresh in the mind is Eoin Casserly who was awarded Engineer’s Ireland prestigious Chartered Engineer of the year 2023. Eoin has established a structural engineering consultancy and has been making an impact on different projects around the world.

12) What is a typical day for you?

It may be a bit of cliché but there is no such thing as a typical day for me. There is a good variety to my work changing from project to project, but I find I spend a portion of my time in project meetings, either with individuals or interacting with cross-functional stakeholders.

The challenge can be finding time to action tasks and outputs from the various meetings. I am lucky to have a hybrid style of working, which eliminates the commute when project needs allow.

13) What are your favourite films/TV dramas?

When time permits, I am prone to tucking into Netflix series mainly on a sports topic I should add. Some of the ones I have watched are basketball’s The Last Dance, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, and Sunderland ‘Til I Die. I am currently watching Six Nations: Full Contact.

14) What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

'Your career is not linear', which is so true and indeed very apt for life itself. You can plan as much as possible but there will always be a disruption which when need a response and a realignment. And don’t fear the change but instead embrace it and see where it takes you. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face”.

15) What do you do to relax?

I like to cycle and run in my spare time and happy been lucky to complete on some of the famous cycle routes across Europe. I also enjoy the GAA and I am involved as a performance analyst with a number of teams.

Sa Calobra climb Mallorca