Engineers are incredibly innovative and ambitious, but having the right skills and mindset is key to having your ideas heard and supported.

Through self-development and continuous learning you can make yourself stand out in the crowd. Today we find out what education options are available to engineers and what skills you need to focus on to become an invaluable pi-shaped professional.

Our expert today is an electronic engineer who is incredibly passionate about professional development and learning. She is the former Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and current Director of UL@Work at University of Limerick, Professor Ann Ledwith.

Listen below or on your podcast player!

Things we spoke about

01:09 Ann’s Start In Engineering

05:03 How to make an impression and progress

09:19 Transversal Skills and becoming a pi-shaped professional

13:27 The difference between management and leadership

16:20 Advice for young engineers pursuing leadership

18:13 Business-oriented skills for engineering

20:30 How to approach continued learning

21:54 Further education opportunities with UL@Work

24:50 Learning time commitment and workplace support

Guest details

Professor Ann Ledwith is a graduate of N.I.H.E Limerick where she obtained a degree in Electronic Engineering.  She subsequently completed an MBA at the University of Limerick and a PhD in Managing Product Development at the University of Brighton. She has held a variety of positions at UL including Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Director of Continuing and Professional Education, and Assistant Dean of Research (Adult and Continuing Education) with the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Currently Prof Ledwith is the Director of HCI and UL@Work, and is responsible for delivering UL’s Human Capital Initiative project, UL@Work, which aims to develop digital, industry 4.0, talent through flexible, innovative and technology-enabled, experiential learning; linking enterprise and education to form a co-designed future learning environment.  She is passionate about the role of the university in supporting regional growth and currently chairs Explore Engineering, an industry-led initiative to  increase the quality and quantity of engineering talent (apprentice, technicians and engineers) in the region.

Prof Ledwith worked for over twelve years as a Product Development Engineer and as a Manager of Product Development in small high-technology firms.  She spent 2 years managing the Centre for Project Management at the University of Limerick.  Professor Ledwith has a keen interest in work-based students and flexible learning. Throughout her academic career, she has designed and delivered part-time and blended programmes for both under- and post-graduate students on topics such as Project Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation Management, Technology Management and Reliability.  Her research interests include new product development, project management, R&D management, innovation and technology management in small firms.



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Engineers Journal AMPLIFIED is produced by for Engineers Ireland.


You have to be willing to step up, you have to be willing to say, ‘Yeah, I can take charge of this project, or I can manage a few people.’ - Ann Ledwith

When you're working with people, you need a certain amount of single mindedness and focus, but you also need to be able to bring your people along with you, you need to appreciate and listen to what people are saying. You need to have a vision, you need to be able to communicate that vision, and you need to be able to convince people that's where they want to be as well. - Ann Ledwith

We often talk about a pi-shaped professional, you need these broad skills along the top, and then your areas of expertise. You need both if you want to be successful. - Ann Ledwith

I think that sense of having a vision of how you want to move things forward is very important, but that's useless unless you can bring people with you - Ann Ledwith

It is so important for job satisfaction that people can see that they've contributed to something. I think that's why people follow leaders because they feel that it's adding more meaning and more relevance to what they're doing. - Ann Ledwith

The first thing is to let people know you're there and to let people know that you do have ambition. Very often that's the toughest step for a young engineer, we're not taught to go forward and to share your ideas like that. But I think it's very important that you make sure people realize that the potential that you have - Ann Ledwith

One of the key things if you are getting on that journey of continuous education is to get the support from your manager. Tell them how this program is actually going to progress you, it's not just that you're getting skills, but your company is getting skills - Ann Ledwith


For your convenience, we include an automated AI transcription

Dusty Rhodes 00:00

In your engineering career, do you want to be a manager or leader? And what's the difference? We're about to find out.

Ann Ledwith 00:07

When you get into leadership, you have a vision, you're able to say, well, this is how I think things should be. First, that's useless, unless you can bring people with you.

Dusty Rhodes 00:21

Hello there, my name is Dusty Rhodes, and welcome to AMPLIFIED the Engineers Journal podcast. Most successful engineers agree that continuous learning is paramount to a successful and progressive career in engineering. But when innovation and technology are moving at such a rapid pace today, it can feel overwhelming to keep up. So today, we're going to find out what further education options are available to engineers and what skills you can develop to help move yourself forward and upwards in your career. Our guest today is incredibly passionate about professional development and learning. She is the former Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and the current director of UL@Work, at the University of Limerick, Ann Ledwith. Thank you very much for joining us on the podcast. Thank you. So listen, tell me Ann you're a big advocate for careers in engineering. How did you get into this business? How did you know it was the right path for you?

Ann Ledwith 01:18

I suppose it was a bit serendipitous when I was at school and ended up breaking desolations in Limerick, we didn't have physics and I decided I wanted to do physics. So about four of us had to go to the local Christian Brothers school that was just across the road to do physics. And up to probably the end of fifth year, I was going to be a dentist, I'd probably be a lot richer if I was a dentist but who knows I wouldn't be happier. But all the boys were going to physics, we're all going to do engineering. So I said, and I was good at physics, I was good at math and those types of subjects. And I said, Well, if they're going to be engineers, then I should be an engineer too. So to be honest, it wasn't a career that had ever entered my mind. Until I heard my classmates talking about the classmates and my physics class talking about it. Now he's helped that we have a passionate female physics teacher as well, that was very, very supportive. But that's where I decided to do engineering. And at the time, and he, as it was then was just starting, they had a very good program in electronic engineering. And that's where I ended up with quite a few of my colleagues from our physics class, Limerick as well.

Dusty Rhodes 02:30

So when you got out into the real world, what kind of engineering work were you doing?

Ann Ledwith 02:34

Well, I did electronic engineering, and I worked for a while with analog devices, I moved to Germany on a contract for about a year. And then I came back to Limerick and worked with a company called Interpro. As a design engineer and an entrepreneur, we were designing automatic test equipment for power supplies. So I was involved in hardware, and software firmware, and worked there for about seven, eight years, it was a small company, it was a startup, a great place for an engineer to start. Because I think in a smaller company like that, you're exposed to everything you're exposed to how sales work, how orders are fulfilled, how manufacturing happens. And I felt that was a really, really good start and foundation for my career in engineering. And that's where I started to get opportunities for leadership as well. Again, in a smaller company, I started being the manager of our software development and ended up being the R&D manager in the company. So I was looking after all of our development. But I suppose at that stage, I knew the business inside out, I had been there for a good number of years and knew everybody involved. So it was a very interesting and very kind of exciting time.

Dusty Rhodes 03:44

I liked the way you say that you went into management. And you mentioned leadership because the two are almost completely different things. And it's something I want to delve into a little later. But looking back at your engineering career, what would you say is the one thing that you're most proud of?

Ann Ledwith 04:00

Oh, that's, that's a hard one. Because I moved, my career changed quite a bit. So while I was at Interpro, I was very proud. We developed a new system, a new test system, I was responsible for developing the software and how the software looked, and also for developing some of the hardware modules on that. And it was definitely very rewarding to see the equipment in use in companies to see, you know, something that you were able to step back and say, Well, I designed that, you know, and it's part of a production for and there were maybe four or five of these things lined up churning through power supplies, testing them, and you can kind of say, well, well, I did that. That was me. So I think that's one of the things that's great about engineering is that we make things and very often when you make things you can see the things that you made, and you can see them working and people using them. And whether it's something else kind of mundane as a piece of test equipment, or a new bridge or you know, a new mobile device or whatever it is but we make things and we make things that work and I That's one of the things that I really love about a career in engineering.

Dusty Rhodes 05:03

So one of the things that I do want to chat about a little bit later is management and leadership because there's a huge difference between them. But can I start by asking you about your own journey kind of moving from the shop floor as it were into management and into leadership? Then how does somebody move upwards in a business? What steps should they take?

Ann Ledwith 05:23

Like, I guess, to a certain extent, it's different depending on the business you're in, like I was in a small company, and I was willing to take on the responsibility, I think that's an awful lot of it, that you have to be willing to step up, you have to be willing to say, Yeah, I can take charge of this project, or I can manage a few people. And that's not for everybody. But I think, you know, if you have a bit of ambition, and if you like to, my I hate to say if you're a bit of a control freak, like you like to determine the outcome of things, and I think an awful lot of engineers do, like you don't like things to just happen to you, you like to have some control over what's happening to you and how systems are developed and, and how you make decisions. You know, in my case, it was in how we were developing our software. And I actually ended up having some quite strong views about that, because of how our system was configured and how I felt it should work. And we'd be better to move to something that was more modular. And it's by deciding that you want to take ownership, I think it's an awful lot of where you're at that you have to decide, I can do this, I will step up and do it. And to look at the other people around you and think, look, I can do at least as good a job as they can do. So why not me? But I think maybe two things have to happen. One is that your company has to appreciate you and be willing to promote you. And by and large, people are happy to prod people who want to do the work. But I think an awful lot of it has to come internally from you, as an engineer, that you're saying, Yes, I'm willing to take this step forward. Yes, it's not beyond me to decide, I'm not just going to implement a design what I'm being asked to design, but I actually want to be more involved in making those decisions and directing what's happening and have more control over where our product or technology or whatever else it is, is going.

Dusty Rhodes 07:07

There is a world of difference in designing something and controlling that thing, as you say, and then controlling people, which is the team. But there are similar two skills at the same time. So what kind of skills do you think are important for progression in that way?

Ann Ledwith 07:21

Like, I think of the two, it's controlling the people and managing the people that number one is actually what's critical to making projects happen. And is something that's more difficult. And I think it is something that comes a little bit more with age, you need a bit of experience and a bit of maturity before you can start to manage other people and bring them along. That's my opinion on it. I think you need a lot of empathy. When you're working with people, you need a certain amount of kind of single-mindedness and focus. But you also need to be able to bring your people along with you, you need to appreciate and listen to what people are saying. But you need to have a vision, you need to be able to communicate that vision. And you need to be able to convince people, that's where they want to be as well. But they are two different skill sets. And of the two I'd say the one that takes a bit longer to develop is the people management and the people management skills.

Dusty Rhodes 08:16

And where do you learn those skills? Or where do you start learning those skills?

Ann Ledwith 08:20

You start in kindergarten, you know, I often think that how you interact with people starts at the very, very beginning. But it is kind of when you get into your career. And when you start moving forward, I think you just have to observe what's happening around you. Now there are lots of programs that will help. And I know when I was kind of going through that management phase earlier in my career, I did take part in a leadership program. And it was very useful. But an awful lot of the use of being on a program like that is really talking to peers and talking to colleagues and finding what are other people doing and realizing that you know, other people have the same problems as you have heard, and they have different ways of solving them and different ways of going about things. So I think anywhere in my life when I've gone back for additional learning, the learning itself has been useful, but almost more useful is that peer-to-peer learning. And I think that that still holds true in almost any area of kind of upskilling and rescaling is that peer learning can be really, really important. So I think that's a key place where you learn and where you observe what people are doing. 

Dusty Rhodes 09:19

One word I have heard bandied around in relation to this is transversal skills. What exactly are transversal skills?

Ann Ledwith 09:26

They're just a new thing. Know, I think they are a new name for things that we always had to do you know, for things that you gained with experience, but I think they are a very important skill set that we have maybe over the last years started to kind of pigeonhole different people into particular professions and particular skill sets. But yes, when you get out into the workplace, you need to be able to work with people. You need to be able to communicate effectively. You need to be able to manage teams and work in a team. And they're all those kinds of what used to be softer skills and are now more commonly referred to as power skills. But to be honest, you know, way back kind of 1015 years ago, when I was more involved in engineering programs here at UL and getting programs accredited, there were always those learning outcomes that were about managing teams and being aware of society and being aware of the people around you. And making sure that engineers had those skills, as well as having the technical skills, which I think is really, really important. So I think transversal skills are very, very useful, I think they're things that should be part of all of our degrees. And all of our undergraduates should get them, I think, to be honest, are coming to the forum. Now, post COVID, because we've had whatever it is for three, four years, where people have been working in very kind of isolated ways. And it's almost like we've got to bring them back together and teach people how to work with each other and work together. So we often talk about that kind of pie-shaped professional, that you need these broad skills along the top, and then your areas of expertise. But you need both if you want to be successful.

Dusty Rhodes 11:02

That's another phrase that I've heard is T shaped professionals that somebody is somebody brought up at the top. And yeah, when

Ann Ledwith 11:08

I'm saying pie, I'm just putting an extra leg on that T because very often we need somebody who you know, understands it, as well as understanding telecoms, or whether it's very close, or circuit design or, or even medicine, we're seeing so much more of an overlap between an awful lot of these professions that that in areas of biological sciences, medical sciences, that research is really delving into how technology is informing that how AI is informing that. 

Dusty Rhodes 11:39

So you need more than one expertise very often when you're thinking about your career, and you're kind of thinking I want to move on and do something else... engineering related, what kind of opportunities are there for engineers outside of the direct industry itself?

Ann Ledwith 11:52

I take there are a lot of different careers and career paths that engineers can take. That's one of the things that I really like about an engineering degree and would encourage, you know, parents talking to kids to look at engineering, because I think sometimes when you're at the start of it, you think, Well, I'm going to be an engineer, and that's what I'm going to do. But to actually develop a skill set as an engineer, that can apply in an awful lot of different areas. So you would see engineers talk turning up in sales and marketing, in systems an awful lot in education in a lot of different spheres. And I think one of the things that an engineering degree gives you is almost a way of thinking as a systems way of thinking because I find that something that to me an awful lot in my career, that I can look at, you know, a problem or a mess, you know, what, whether it's to do with engineering, whether it's to do with how we're structuring a program at work, or whether it's dealing with another project at work, and I find I can put a structure on it, you know, I can pull the bits of it together that matters. I can say, well, this is how we should do this. This is the way we should put this as a project. And I think it's that kind of high-level systems thinking that engineers are actually quite good at that there is a kind of a way that you think that that's very structured and systematized and you think, well, we're going to do that, and how are we going to measure it? And how will we know? What resources will we need? So you start to think in a far more kind of structured way. And I think that can apply across the board. And that's why you find engineers, very often in management roles in a lot of industries. So they've left behind the engineering, and they're working in kind of general management areas.

Dusty Rhodes 13:27

I think what I hear you saying is engineers are problem solvers. And you know, leadership and management are all about solving problems with teams, we often the arrow of the importance of leadership in engineering, one is the difference between management because lots of people go into management, or very few people become leaders. What is the difference between management and leadership?

Ann Ledwith 13:49

I think one of the key differences is when you get into leadership, you have a vision, and maybe you have visions about several visions, but you have, you know, you're able to say, well, this is how I think things should be. And I was actually thinking about this recently. And that's one thing that I found that the later stages of my career, that I'm actually much more willing to step forward and say, Well, this is where I think you should actually go with this. And this is how it should look in the future. And I think that sense of having a vision that you want to show how you want to move things forward is very important. But that's useless unless you can bring people with you. So I think it's being able to do both of those things. Because we can think of and even within companies, you will get these people who have crazy mad ideas, but nobody listens to them. And that can sometimes be big, it's not necessarily the best thing. But I think if you can bring people along with you on those towards what that vision is, if you can be inclusive in developing how you think you want things to go forward and actually bring things with you. I think that that's the key with leadership is that you can have that vision, but that you could communicate and bring people along with you towards that vision.

Dusty Rhodes 14:58

Then when you are a leader either and you have a vision and you're going for this particular goal to improve the world. And you've got 50 PP behind you. And man, I like the way that guys think I'm going to work with him. Alright, so your leader, how does that kind of leadership improve the quality of work and experience within a company, for the people who were behind you and supporting you?

Ann Ledwith 15:20

Well, I think it gives you I mean, there's a great sense of grace, satisfaction and being part of a team, that that is working towards something and something that's going to improve whether it's improving how we work, improving how we teach, improving what our product looks like. But that is working towards improvement and to feel that you're listened to that you're part of that you're of achieving something, and that you're confident contributing. And I actually think that I mean, that is so important for job satisfaction is that people can see that they've contributed to something that has made an improvement. And I think that's why people would very often follow leaders because they feel that that it adds more meaning it's adding more relevance to what they're doing. And they're actually they're achieving something, as opposed to, you know, the same thing as I did yesterday. And here's what I'm going to be doing next week, and my manager says, I should do it x, y, and z because that's the way the company does it. And I think that's part of the difference. And it's a much more exciting place to be, you know, when you're trying to create something new or do something new.

Dusty Rhodes 16:20

So this is developing really nicely because a leader is somebody who has vision, he's got people who agree with our vision, who are following him, but the leader is also interested in helping the people who are following him, develop themselves. So if I'm sitting here, and I'm an engineer, and I'm kind of thinking this sounds good, I want to get into management, because I've got ideas, I want to change the world in my own way. I mean, how do I start all of the, you know, I'm just working at a desk as a regular engineer, how do you start the journey towards management and leadership?

Ann Ledwith 16:53

So you're sitting at your desk, but where are you? You know, why does your company what are you passionate about? You know, are you designing, you know, a communication system that you think should be done differently and should use a different type of technology? And I think it depends on your context. And I think part of kind of the first thing that you need to do is to step up and to make sure that the people who are working with you, and particularly the people who are senior to you in the company, know that you want to go further, I know that you want to take on a leadership role. And they're aware that you're there. So very often kind of as a junior engineer there, and there's a tendency to keep my head down and get the work done. That's not going to get too far if you want to get involved in leadership. And you don't have to be the person who's shouting for the trees or anything like that. But you do have to be the person who will make sure that their voice is heard, and their opinion is heard. And if you have a good idea, well articulated and share it. So I think the first thing is to let people know you're there and to let people know that you do have ambition. And I think very often that's the toughest step for a young engineer. Because I mean, very often we're not taught to kind of go forward and to share your ideas like that. But I think it's very important that you, you make sure people see you and you make sure people realize the potential that you have.

Dusty Rhodes 18:13

You think if you're going to then go into the leadership side of things that you need to do you need to be business orientated. For that, you have to do a business degree on top of everything else.

Ann Ledwith 18:25

I think that depends, I think in some of the kinds of larger technical companies, they would have a route for leadership on an engineering side that needn't be as involved in the business. But to be honest, I think, really, so if you're in a smaller company, then there is more of a need to have a better idea of where the business is at. But in either case, I think you have to be aware of the implications of the decisions that you're making. So you do have to be aware of the business. And I think as an engineer, again, that would be advice to kind of engineers starting out, become aware of what your businesses, you know, who are your key customers, what are the, you know, how was your product differentiated from other people's products, because that is important, it is important that you know, where the business is going. And I know when I was kind of mid-career, as I said, I did, I did a leadership course. But I went on and did an MBA as well. And that was very, very useful to me at the time that I did it. So I think that you know, whether it's an MBA or whether it's, you know, even in something in project management or management in general, I think that skill set that's kind of outside of engineering is very useful for you. But I would say to engineers, get your feet under the table, you know, I wouldn't be jumping into something like that when you're two years out of college. Wait until you actually know what way is that up and you know where your industry is before you go and get that skill set.

Dusty Rhodes 19:44

Do you think another way of possibly doing this and letting people know that you're interested and progressing but without being pushy if you want to put it that way is to ask questions as you say to reach out and to learn is it okay to ask people questions about the business.

Ann Ledwith 20:02

Absolutely. And I think most people will be happy to share with you. So, yeah, inquire and find out what's going on. I think that makes an awful lot of sense. Because, again, like I said earlier, it's context, I think you have to know where you're operating and where you're working, and what are the goals of the company? So what are the key aims of the company because you need to align yourself with that if you want to be moving up in a leadership or even in a management role in a company, you need to be aware of what their goals are.

Dusty Rhodes 20:30

My mind is just worrying with the amount of things that you're saying that I would have to learn about Android engineering is such a fast-paced industry and with so many different opportunities for learning, it can be a little bit overwhelming for some people, how should engineers approach their continued learning?

Ann Ledwith 20:47

Well, I mean, I would say you can't do everything. So I think sometimes you have to make choices. I can remember back, probably about 20 years ago, I put a lot of time into redesigning one of our programs. And we launched the program, and it was very successful, and I was very happy with it. And I could have decided to pursue that to stay on with that program to grow it to be the course director. But at the same time, there was an opportunity in working with continuous education, lifelong learning, and driving that. And I had to let go of something and decide to do something else to go with a lifelong learning piece because you can't do everything. And I think there are important kinds of inflection points in people's careers where they have to make decisions like that and decide, well, what's going to be taking me further apart? Am I really passionate about it? And I think when you've when you've made those decisions, then start looking at what kind of learning and what kind of upskilling you want, because it has to be relevant to you. But that's my opinion, that when you're moving forward in your career, and you've decided where you'd like your career to go, that's when you should be looking at what part of education what programs or courses can help me along the way with that.

Dusty Rhodes 21:54

So listen, tell me about you. Well, you're currently the director of UL at work, can you explain what kind of opportunities you are at work at present?

Ann Ledwith 22:02

UL as work is part of a program called the human capital and asset that was funded through the National Training Fund. So about four years ago, they open to competitive funds for universities to innovate and innovate in ways that were going to really support the development of skills and work closely with industry, looking at what kind of graduates do we need to produce. And what we did at Limerick is that we focus very much on professional education and postgraduate education. So you will at work has developed a range of programs, a lot of them are one-year part-time programs called professional diplomas, where people can upscale on areas, very diverse areas. So we've got programs in sustainability and communications and PR programs in strategic leadership in data analytics, in artificial intelligence. So there are there's a whole range of programs. But one of the things that we've done with that, which I think is a really great opportunity for students is that we've put in place a new masters called a Masters of Professional {ractice. And what the Masters is about is that you can pick any three of those professional diplomas that are going to suit your career, and you can put them together to get a master's. So you will do one of them in one year, you can do the second one, and then you can do the third one. And with your third one, you get your Masters. And it's proving really, really popular. And what it allows students to do is to really customize their learning. So we have, for example, we've had a very good program in aviation, leasing, and finance, and we've called a couple of good aviation programs, and students will do those. But they'll say, Well, actually, I need a bit of leadership with that as well. Or I need to find out about Lean, and how do I implement Lean in my company, so you'll get very diverse kind of mixes of diplomas and various of learning, but they make sense for a person's career. What we have is a structure that kind of scaffolds you through from microcredit to Masters, where you can pick a microcredit that's related to or that's part of one of these professional diplomas. Go ahead, do the professional diploma, once you know that, it's where you want to be, and then build three of these. And it goes back to my comment at the start about these kinds of pie shapes. The T-shaped professionals are now becoming pie-shaped professionals and maybe show professionals where you need a couple of deep dives and a few things, you need a couple of areas that you can say, well actually look, I can stand up and talk about that because I know that as well as having the transversal skills. And I think that's what our master's in professional practice does. It allows you to build, you know, up to three different areas that you know a lot about that you've advanced to kind of level nine to Masters level in a particular topic, but that you can bring them together kind of with some of these transversal skills,

Dusty Rhodes 24:50

the range of content of things that I can learn sounds amazing from the way you describe it and the fact that it can help my vision to move up in a career sounds amazing. I do want Want to be a leader that people are following me rather than being a manager with a hammer and playing Whack a Mole with employees all day. And the one thing that does worry me is the time elements. And it sounds great when you say it's a part-time when you're I've got a full-time job I've got, you know, three kids hanging out I've got a wife is always cranky, I made sure to mean, what kind of time commitment is there in here.

Ann Ledwith 25:23

We've been at this for a long time, and people can put in between 15 and 20 hours a week. And more than that isn't going to happen. So we can design any program we say and say there's 30 weeks studying that, it's not going to happen. As you say, for somebody who has children, a career, or a wife, sometimes older parents do all of these husband, Max, you'll be able to put in 15 hours a week, 15 to 20 hours a week. So you might put in an hour to kind of during the week after work, and then maybe one or two longer stints at the weekend. But you've got to get the balance right. And I think I suppose I'm comfortable talking about that, because I did my MBA, as I was managing things, I had my baby in the middle of my first child in the middle of my MBA, so I put a totally different color on the whole thing and trying to finish it off. It is doable, but you have to be focused on it. And I think one of the things that is quite nice about the model that we have is that you pit you take it one piece at a time, you know, so it's not saying you're committing to three years are you committing, you'll commit to one year and one year is actually two semesters and two semesters is to 15-week blocks. And you know, if you break it down like that, you can rationalize it and say, Okay, I will have a nice bit off at Christmas, I will have a short break at Easter, I've my summer off. So I think you have to keep that balance kind of between how you do everything

Dusty Rhodes 26:47

in the workplace, then how can managers and leaders that you're working with support you if you want to follow this journey of continued education,

Ann Ledwith 26:57

I think one of the key things is, you know, if you are getting on that journey of continuing education is to get the support from your manager because they need to know that you're doing this program. And they need to know that you might need a little bit of slack that you're not going to be working till eight o'clock, kind of three evenings a week, but that you need to finish up because we have more work to do. But I think part of that has to be a conversation with your manager about how this program is actually going to progress you and how it's going to help you. So it's not just that you're getting skills, but your company is getting skills, and the way an awful lot of our programs. And again, I know I'm talking about what we do at your will. But other universities have similar types of programs. But a lot of our programs are very linked to your business and linked to your workplace. So where you know, I take the lead program, it's a very good example, that as you're moving through Lean projects, your projects are requiring you to review your current working situation to look at how you can improve things. And in fact, on our lien program, the thesis that you do at the end has to make a particular contribution to your company. So you only get through with your thesis proposal, if you can show how it's going to save your company money or time or whatever it is, or improve things. And I mean, we've had some fantastic program projects there where people have saved hundreds of 1000s for the companies by being involved in a project like this. So I think the conversation very much has to be I want to do this program, it's going to help me it's going to help you this is how I'm going to bring this learning back into the workplace. And programs have to be designed like that.

Dusty Rhodes 28:29

That is almost how you start thinking like a leader because you're going home and you're saying to your partner, I want to do this extra work. Because after I will be able to do boom, which will bring benefit to us, then you're going into your employer and you're saying, I want to do this blah, blah, blah, and the benefits of the company will be bumped. And you're starting to be a leader then because you're sharing a vision for our people kind of go I want to be part of that. That's love the way you think.

Ann Ledwith 28:55

Yeah, no, it's very true. It's very true that you're looking at where this is taking me. But it's not just me. It's how it's improving the other things around me, very important.

Dusty Rhodes 29:05

If I'm considering taking on some more education in order to improve myself and to move forward. Where do I start? I mean, is there stuff that you're aware of with engineers, in Ireland? Is there stuff that I can find on your website with you? Well,

Ann Ledwith 29:21

yeah, I mean, there is stuff that you'd find on engineers, Ireland, and upskilling. But the government has actually done really good work over the last number of years and we were very supportive of people who want to go back to education. So our Springboard program is a fantastic place to start. And the springboard offers programs across the range, a whole pile of different areas. And they're pretty much you know, they're very well funded, but about 90% funded, and those are all open now. So, anybody who wants to go on to the Springboard web website, we see a whole range of programs. The other group that works really well with upscaling our skill nets and our skills are working across all the regions across all the different areas of technology. And they're also looking at what are the needs of the industry, what are the skills that they need. So those would be two very obvious places to go. But also on for any of the universities, I mean, now is the time where we're kind of coming to the end of our recruitment cycle for September. So depending on what you want to do, or where you want to go, if you go on to our URL website and look for postgraduate education, you will find a list of different programs that are available there. And you know, the same in any institution. 

Dusty Rhodes 30:32

You have affected me and I hope you have affected the person listening to the podcast at the moment in that I want to be a leader. I don't want to be a manager. I want to be a leader. And I find that everything that you've said has been very inspiring today. So thank you so much for sharing with us on the podcast today. Thank you. If you'd like to find out more about Ann and some of the topics that we did speak about today, you will find notes and link details in the show notes area of your player right now. And of course, you'll find more information and exclusive advanced episodes of our Engineers Ireland AMPLIFIED podcast on our website engineersireland. ie. Our podcast today was produced by for Engineers Ireland. If you'd like more episodes do click the Follow button on your podcast player right now to get access to all of our past and future shows automatically. Until next time, from myself, Dusty Rhodes, thank you for listening.