On this episode, we hear from an engineer at the top of his game. Ciaran McGovern, gives us an inside look at how Tobin’s long-established civil and structural engineering practice delivers for clients. 

You’ll hear about some of the firm’s most cutting-edge projects – including the world’s largest sports air dome – and what’s ahead for the engineering sector in terms of Ireland’s climate action plan. The conversation also touches on the long-term impacts of Covid19 both on workplace culture and regional demands on transportation patterns, the power grid and internet connectivity. 

Ciaran also reflects on how Engineers Ireland’s professional development programmes have kept him engaged and why being unafraid to speak up and ask questions is so important to career advancement – and enjoyment!

Topics we discussed include:

  • The Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin: A facility whose design and infrastructure supports everything from beginning gymnastics to elite rugby.
  • The NUI Galway Connacht GAA Sports Air Dome: The world’s largest such facility, housing a full-size field, track and stands, also convertible within 72 hours to a fully functional conference arena unique on the island of Ireland.
  • How aspirational mentors can inspire through their example, guidance and support.
  • Why retention of talented staff is paramount and how there is a workplace emphasis on providing opportunities for growth and professional enrichment.
  • Tobin’s DECOM (Direction, Competence, Opportunity, Motivation) framework provides a structured approach to securing the right mix of technical and interpersonal/ communications to best serve client needs.
  • The ways Covid19 precipitated changes that were long in coming for Ireland’s traditional, centralized hub-and-spoke economy. 
  • Long-term adoption of remote work, demand for ever-better broadband, commute patterns and infrastructure to support electric cars. 
  • About Tobin’s direct involvement with Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, substantial improvements to power grid infrastructure and civic engagement.
  • Finding ways to keep projects on track, maintain collaboration and provide necessary feedback to people “putting their heads down” remotely.
  • Why Ciaran is especially appreciative of how professional development services have invited him to challenge himself to continue growing and acquiring new skills.

Guest details

Ciaran has over 25 years of experience in building and civil engineering project delivery within the Irish consultancy sector and was appointed as Managing Director in 2020. He has previously held the position of Operations Director and that of Commercial Director within TOBIN. 

Ciaran continues to advise a broad range of Clients on procurement and risk strategies in the management of works contracts for both traditional (employer) and design build (DB) forms. He works closely with internal and Client multidisciplinary teams to deliver projects in the sports capital, transportation, environment, civil engineering, building and infrastructure sectors.

Contact details

https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmcgoverntobin/
https://www.tobinconsultingengineers.com/

Irelands Climate Action Plan 2021
https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6223e-climate-action-plan-2021/

Video highlights about the story of Tobin’s NUI Galway Connacht
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDXzIKc0L54

More information

Looking for ways to explore or advance a career in the field of engineering? Visit Engineers Ireland to learn more about the many programs and resources on offer. https://www.engineersireland.ie/

Transciption text

For your convenience, here is a 90% accurate automated transcript of the podcast.

Dusty Rhodes  0:02 

Right now on amplified the engineers general podcast, we're about to meet the managing director of Tobin Consulting Engineers, Ciaran McGovern,

Ciaran McGovern  0:11 

we were talking earlier on the fashion sports campus of a very, very large building. But Dublin in cannot, they would never have been able to get themselves to a position of providing a fixed structure. We looked at the capsule envelope that the client had in that particular situation and is a phrase we had to make our brains hurt a little bit in terms of covering that pitch and providing a controlled environment and a training area that people could use irrespective of the weather in Israel.

Dusty Rhodes  1:01 

Hello, my name is Dusty Rhodes and you're welcome to the engineers Ireland podcast where we speak with our community of creative professionals across the country, about how engineers are delivering sustainable solutions for society both now and in the future. Today, we're finding out more about the man at the top of one of our long standing Civil and Structural engineering practices with a 70 year pedigree. It's Tobin Consulting Engineers, a sharp intellect endlessly curious, and always with an eye on the future. It's a pleasure to welcome managing director Ciaran McGovern. How you doing Ciaran?

Ciaran McGovern  1:34 

Hi, dusty, good to talk to you today.

Dusty Rhodes  1:36 

Indeed, Listen, tell me a lot of people kind of forget when you're at the top of an organization that somehow you had to get a break into the business. Do you remember that far back?

Unknown Speaker  1:47 

I think it was probably a neighbor of mine originally was a civil engineer, retired gentleman from the UK who came to live beside us when I was in my formative years, I think back, you know, in secondary school and got to hear loads about what civil engineering was all about. And, you know, I think probably developed from there. And I think I was lucky in a lot of ways just to in that I had a good idea of what I wanted to do going into my leaving search. I think a lot of people these days have huge choice that creates its own dynamic that as well does not

Dusty Rhodes  2:16 

make it makes it very easy way you win, you know, but what I'm trying to find out is, how did you know what was it about engineering that he went on? That's what I want to do?

Ciaran McGovern  2:27 

Well, I think I had a father as well, who always had an interest in the building industry, and probably gave me a nudge in that direction, too. But I think you have to be comfortable with the science side of it and matte side of it. And you know, you need to find those things, easy to deal with read odd, you know, now, if you were to ask me to spend a lot of time in languages and French and, and German, I'm very weak and all those things, you know, so you got to find your own your own slot, in terms of where you're, where you're comfortable, and I suppose comes up, but easier, then doesn't.

Dusty Rhodes  2:58 

So while we were all sitting there at the back of the class, and drawing out the name of whoever was the band of the day, and their logo, what were you drawing in your copy,

Ciaran McGovern  3:06 

I'm not too sure was a drawing at all, maybe other than it might have been sketching up something that was going on in the back of my mind or on the what's the next design or the next building or whatever it might be to go ahead and say notions of being an architect at one stage was probably had to get back into my box and just realize I was best at what I was planning to do and engineering.

Dusty Rhodes  3:26 

So it's always been there for you. And you, you ended up in Tobin and now you're the Managing Director, how did you get from there to where you are now?

Ciaran McGovern  3:33 

Yeah, I suppose. You know, I come in as a project engineer made about six years out in industry before he joined Tobin's at all, in both public and private sector in the local authorities. So I had somewhat of a blended approach before I've gotten here consulting engineering at all. And it's just a question of, I suppose, applying yourself every day, to the problems that are there in front of you. And I've got a few lucky breaks along the way, in terms of the the areas I was interested in, particularly on waste management and the circular economy, which were huge, you know, for a long period of time in Ireland, I suppose learning is been a big part for me as well, in terms of, you know, professional development that have gone through, spent less time on technical development, but also did an MBA back sort of what is it five years ago now at this stage six years ago. So you know, that really helped me make the decision as to whether to take the step into the DMD role.

Dusty Rhodes  4:17 

So when you are kind of coming up through the company, and you want to impress, and the various projects that you're working on was the one in particular that you look back at now. And you go, yeah, that was particularly good and particularly proud of that. What was it? Well, I

Ciaran McGovern  4:31 

think one of the ones we're most proud of the today would be, I suppose, the National Sports campus there in Dublin, you know, the National indoor arena, a lot of the infrastructural development that was done there because that has been set up to be right from the casual child's going to gymnastics from for the first time right through to the elite rugby are there on the campus, you know, it's right across society. There's there's an opportunity there to use those as well. That's one of the things about engineering, you know, you actually get to take something which is a germ are an idea in someone's head right through to seeing people using the facilities and enjoying them on a day to day basis. Yeah.

Dusty Rhodes  5:06 

You also mentioned having a mentor in what ways did a your mentor help you specifically?

Ciaran McGovern  5:12 

Well, I can think back to even back in 2014, I think I did some training with ucg, as it was at the time on managerial development, and it was only a one year course, remember, we overlapped with some MBA students, and it was probably enough for me at the time to say, I'm not ready to do that. But at the same time, it gave me an appetite for the managerial side as much as the technical side. That's what spurred me on to the MBA then in 2016. So sometimes you just need not just from a good mentor,

Dusty Rhodes  5:43 

I think you've just said it there. Because finding mentors is one thing finding a good one is where do you look for mentors?

Ciaran McGovern  5:51 

Yeah, well, I think I know, in our in our own business, we would recognize the value of that and try to build it in into the way we do our own day to day, I suppose performance management of our own staff. So we don't always use the phrase mentor per se. It's more around who's your manager? And are they the right fit for you? Are they giving you the right advice, so they help you develop your career? It's more in that space, rather than the former mentor title. I suppose we're dancing on the head of a pin in terms of words, but it's just that that's that's the approach we take in our business anyway.

Dusty Rhodes  6:24 

So from what I understand, then part of being in a management role with Tobin is that you also need to mentor the staff that you have, as well as just making sure that they're getting things done on time. Yeah, well,

Ciaran McGovern  6:36 

at our core, we're a learning organization just to hit it, where, essentially, we're there to provide advice to our clients as to how to problem solve and deal with the issues of the day, how to get from the germ, or the idea in somebody's mind, you take it from there all the way through the various stages of a project. So we need to have our own staff and headspace whereby they see themselves as problem solvers, they're innovative, and they're aware of what technically is going on out there in the market, and how they apply these solutions to the to the problems that are presented those as so it's a continuing professional development, that learning organization culture, is one that has to be there, right through a career to allow it to blossom. Certainly that's that's the approach we take with our business,

Dusty Rhodes  7:22 

antiquated approach to take as well. Do you think it's something common in engineering firms across the country or unusual,

Ciaran McGovern  7:27 

I think we certainly have had a culture within our business of taking that approach, because we've seen the value of you know, when you get good people, you hold on to them tightly, and you don't allow them to go anywhere else. And the only way you're going to do that is to give them a rich career path as they progress through the organization. Do we see evidence? Well, of course, you know, consulting engineering generally would be would be in that space, because it's not a very big industry, you know, so it's, it can't be too transactional in nature, and just say, We're breaking into a job and you're going again, and six months, and that comes back to bite you eventually because the the pool of talent out there isn't isn't that big.

Dusty Rhodes  8:02 

So these are the kinds of considerations because we all think about personal development and and, and training and, and further education, because we want to go up, you are up, you're at the top, when you're looking back down at the people who are coming behind you. I did what kind of things are you thinking about when you're thinking about personal development,

Ciaran McGovern  8:21 

one of the things we've really focused on in the last while and in my role as MD is to make sure the business is is looking closely at what is particular leadership development in particular. And that can be development in the tech space or in the managerial space. So we've invested a lot of time and effort in that we use a model called decom, direction, competence, opportunity, motivation. So that just provides a framework within which you know, you take a structured approach to this. And here's the engineer coming out to me now, again, because everything has to be a series of channels through which you go or ones and zeros that have to be met. Some of the easy parts of that are the technical development, you know, what is the business need, in terms of the skills that are out there in the marketplace these days? Are the solutions that the clients need to have solved. But I think that the more difficult one might be, what are the interpersonal skills and communication skills and professional development requirements have an individual member of staff because engineers by their by their nature will see I don't know how many, you know, but typically are not good at putting ourselves out there and talking to people we're more than I think we're happier to be in the in the back office, crunching the numbers and, you know, making it happen quietly. So I'm

Dusty Rhodes  9:33 

just kind of wondering from your point of view, what would you consider the most important trends in engineering at the moment?

Ciaran McGovern  9:40 

Ireland just generally is a traditional, I suppose, what would you call it a whole hub and spoke system in terms of transport planning out there? Dublin have to center the hub and all the spokes emanating out from that, and I think we've had successive development plans that have looked at the need for balanced regional development, and I think that's really starting to come to the fore. particularly as we emerge from COVID. And we can see that as a nation, we don't all have to be sitting in an office these days, we can work remotely. So I think, to learn the lessons of COVID is really a trend or something that we probably all need to, to grasp. Things like the National Broadband scheme nationally, that's been rolled out at the moment, I know, there's been some that are very strong advocates for it, and maybe some, maybe don't quite see the benefit of it. But if we can get to a point where, you know, people can work locally, live locally, be part of the community, you know, rather than spending hours in a car commuting every day, you know that that is going to also feed the dynamic of promoting electric vehicles, you got to get rid of range anxiety, then you're not going to be so worried about having to commute for two hours a day. So these these things build on each other. So that balance regional development is certainly one that I think there's huge mileage for for the country to get his head around. What does the country

Dusty Rhodes  10:55 

need to do in order to do that regional development, because everything is very Dublin focused, and we've seen Dark plus, now they're extending it to the west of the city, they're talking about extending the trauma to the airport and anti sores. I'm beyond where do rural areas get a lock in? How should they be treated?

Ciaran McGovern  11:13 

Well, if you just if you think about the way we can work today, that we couldn't work four or five or 10 years ago, you and I are both virtual today, whereas 10 years ago, we might have actually had to sit down in a studio together to, to actually have this discussion. So why do we need to have all those people in, in, in cities per se, we really don't, you know, we can do an awful lot of the work we do more geographically balanced, a lot of what Ireland is doing these days is, is in the professional services sector. You know, if you take the company we have today as a professional services organization, we don't make widgets we sell people's time really is what we do. So our product doesn't need to be based in the center of Dublin or North Dublin or South Dublin even though we have geographical presence is there for our own staff, if you're always going to be thinking of investment planning around the next very large scale project around Dublin because that's where the centers of population are, your best return on investment is always going to be those because you already have the people there. So it's just about thinking of it more laterally around how to let people get on with what they need to do and reach regionally you know, they don't always need a huge amount of financial incentives they just need to give him the tools to get on with it and broadband is certainly one that'll that'll add that

Dusty Rhodes  12:35 

and what kind of other tools then that it needs to be given to live there like I'm what I'm thinking is if you had a large plot of land 100 kilometers away from a major city be that you know, kind of Dublin Galway, Limerick, cork wherever it's, it's in the middle of nowhere, shall we say, Okay, what would you do with that space in order to attract people to go

Ciaran McGovern  12:56 

there? Think about the maybe the successes that aren't just have over the last couple of decades and attracting foreign direct investment is really one that's we've had a lot of success on? What do they what do they need, they need people and they need probably greenfields, as you've just described yourself as well. What they also need, they need a planning system that will let work cannot get planned and get projects get planned. And we do have a running system at the moment which it needs further thought I'd say I think it's important that we get the right balance between given locals voice but having certainty and outcomes for very large scale investments, particularly on a regional basis is supplemented with quite got to there yet. Some of these big green fields could be to do with, I suppose climate action, it is just it could be wind farms. So we do have a lot of objections out there to win Francis as a man perhaps rightly so if they're if they're not in the right place. But we need to get that that balance regionally in terms of the grid, and where power is gonna come into it. And what it's going to be used for.

Dusty Rhodes  14:00 

Sustainability is a huge thing at the moment, but it's kind of funny in that you say, alright, let's let's build a wind farm. And then of course, it'll be but no, we don't want one there. What kind of sustainable solutions have impressed you?

Ciaran McGovern  14:13 

Well, it was we're quite heavily involved in all parts of the Climate Action Plan itself. And sustainability is at the core of that. And you know, what, what are we trying to do there, we're trying to get to a point of emission reductions and netzero over an extended period of time. So I think investment in our grid infrastructure in terms of power distribution is something that needs a lot of attention and continue will continuously evolve potential over the coming years, getting people involved locally, and in those solutions, such as, you know, electric cars and and the wind farms. We've mentioned their solar power generation PV panels for photovoltaic, Patek. So, you know, there's, there are a lot of opportunities out there in that whole climate action space, which, at its core has sustainability. How do We leave the planet in a better place for our children than we're where we are today ourselves. So it's about, I suppose executing, and all those things that are there at the moment. Similarly with with our building infrastructure and our housing stock, and making sure that all of that is sustainably built, and is efficient, and is in the right location for people as well, where they want to live and work.

Dusty Rhodes  15:24 

Because you're in there as a big part of that planning that's going on at the moment for that climate, you must have to keep yourself very up to date with what sustainable solutions are available. How do you keep yourself up to date?

Ciaran McGovern  15:38 

Well, I suppose there's a push and pull there. One side is the sort of academic thinking on it and being aware of academically what's the thinking is in terms of the best way to actually deliver solutions, we keep very close to suppliers are always advocating for new technologies to be utilized. Having a good understanding of that, and really then just trying to problem solve, how do you apply some of those solutions into the problems that clients might be actually having out there. So if you take something like the projects we had in GE, a center of excellence up in in Benihana sup in incorrupt, GA, where you have, I suppose, a tried and trusted solution of an era dorm, which hadn't been used in Ireland, it's just an example of how you can apply something that might be very conventional somewhere else to something that's very innovative in an Irish context.

Dusty Rhodes  16:31 

So tell me more about the air dome describe it to me,

Ciaran McGovern  16:33 

we were talking to Iran about a project such as the National Sports campus, where you have a very, very large building, which in its traditional sense, is a fixed structure. Because over a very, very large area, of course, it's there for very long periods of time. And it that's one approach to actually how do you cover a space and have a controlled environment and your Hazelden airflow and all of that through the building itself. But in cannot, the I suppose, when you look at the capsule that was available for development, that particular project, they would never have been able to get themselves to a position of providing a fixed structure.

Dusty Rhodes  17:11 

So essentially, the money wasn't there to do what you wanted to do. So you need to come up with a plan. So tell me about the dome, then, which was the solution?

Ciaran McGovern  17:18 

Yeah, well, this was you have options. And you look at the different options. And the different to have one might have a certain capital costs, and it has a certain running cost. And option B has a different capital costs or different running costs, as well, as you tease all those things out. We looked at the capital envelope that, you know, that the client had in that particular situation, and I suppose we all have to make our use a phrase, we had to make our brains hurt a little bit in terms of what what can we do for the solution that was needed in terms of covering that, that pitch and providing a controlled environment and a training area that that people could use every day of the year, irrespective of the weather and East male? So that was question that I'm looking at some seminar, I suppose projects internationally, where you have an inflatable air dome there, which is it's not a rigid structure, you know, air is artificially introduced into the structure and it has to be kept pumped all of the time and certain air pressure, as you walk around inside just you don't notice that the air is it doesn't feel any different to what you would normally see outside. But as kept in places all the time. That's when you try to take it all together, as well. What do we need to do here to actually cover this facility, keep it right temperature, keep it lit. Here's a solution that we can apply to that particular problem that we had there. So there's

Dusty Rhodes  18:31 

a video floating around online of that particular project. And I'll include a link to that in the in the shownotes. On your player right now, if you want to have a look at it. As we've said, The world is changing very fast and has changed very fast in the in the last couple of years. What's the biggest challenge that you are facing right now?

Ciaran McGovern  18:49 

Well, I think Ireland Inc is probably still grappling with hybrid working in particular, and getting used to how we deliver our work in I suppose a digitized environment rather than, you know, a legacy paper environment. We've all learned that we don't need to be hopping in the car to go to those meetings that we felt we had to go to or hop on planes for international travel that we used to do routinely and regularly five to 10 years ago. Some people do work well in an environment where we're human. We some people need the social contract for some like to be left to their own devices just to get on with with, you know, the work that they have to do. And it's getting that mix right in terms of recognizing how do you bring out the best in people and motivate them and you know what, there's not a one size fits all. So I think, you know, we have a hybrid working policy and within Tobin that is working quite well for us. Tell me more about it. Yeah, well, typically, we would ask staff to be available in the office two days a week when they're in a hybrid working environment, trying to recognize that mentoring and coming back to sort of passing on that knowledge to the you know, your teams is better in a face to face environment where you can imbibe information to each other without even realizing it. You know, it's the it's the watercooler discussions. It's the walking down the hallway discussion, it's a discussion over a cup of tea that very often imparts that the pearls of wisdom that you don't realize that you're imparting to somebody, we generally like to have, I suppose people who just who have just graduated to spend a bit more time in the US generally, we'd like people in that bracket to to be in the office full time. And I think that generally seems to work quite well for us, in that the average graduate who's in a rented accommodation, maybe with three other professionals who have just graduated to, you know, they just don't have the space to be able to remote work. And it works quite well, it happened. It was made to work during COVID, for everybody was, in the longer term. We'd like to see people, you know, within that bracket in the office so that they can learn and develop and grow as individuals. And then I suppose people like myself, who were, who have established relationships with their management team, and you know, we're comfortable in the virtual setting, you know, we can have less, we can have touch points that are less frequent. It's just something we're all learning at the moment. And it'll, it'll evolve in time, and we push and pull on it.

Dusty Rhodes  21:10 

So are you are you a hybrid worker? How many days? Are you in the office?

Ciaran McGovern  21:14 

I typically in the office about three, three days a week? Yeah, typically, those three days aren't always in the office, sometimes they're out on site with clients, and whatever it might be. So it flexes every week, you know?

Dusty Rhodes  21:25 

And do you find you get more done when you're working on your home days?

Ciaran McGovern  21:29 

I think if you have tests complete, you know, certainly when you're remote, you can just put the head down and get on with them. And that's fine. But it's not always that simple. You can, you know, you could do a package your work, finds that you need a touch point for somebody, if you just can't quite get a hold of them, or, you know, you go off and spend a number of hours working on a particular direction or make an assumption, and then find really, that wasn't the direction should have gone. And come back then to I won't call it wasted work, but certainly work that had to be aborted, potentially. So. So there's there's pros and cons, but it is what it's a very good for, like I said, getting transactional getting packages of work done, put the head down, get it done, you don't have you're not getting disturbed. But some people don't work well in that environment, either. Just so some people like the social contract lead to have to get up and walk around and chat to people in the office have a cup of tea and their work much better. And that's best. So there's not a one size fits all. So we have

Dusty Rhodes  22:28 

been talking about mentors. Can I ask you to stick your mentor hat on now? What is the most important lesson that you learned in your career that you'd like to kind of hand off to people as a as an example?

Ciaran McGovern  22:42 

I think it's don't be afraid to ask questions. And you might say, Well, surely everybody knows that. But not everyone else does know that. So don't be afraid to ask questions. Be curious about your work, and the learning environment, tease through options. Don't be afraid to be an individual and make suggestions. So you know, there's, there are a few points there. But as its basic premise, don't be afraid to ask questions, what are the simplest one I could ever give you.

Dusty Rhodes  23:09 

And finally, engineers, Ireland is kind of an unusual organization in that it's not a collective of companies. It's a collective of people working within an industry. So I'm just wondering, what is one of the most useful things that you have gotten out of being an engineer as Ireland,

Ciaran McGovern  23:26 

I was pushed a number of years ago to get involved in the regional committee structure of engineers, Ireland, you know, which is very much in the continuing development, professional development space. And that's really helped me to develop personally, as an individual through the, you know, working with the committee structures, you might say, Well, what have they done for me? Well, they've pushed me into a certain area, maybe that I wasn't comfortable in being at the time. And sometimes you learn more in the spaces where you're not comfortable than you do, where you are actually completely comfortable. So it's just back to the mentoring side of it again, and pushing people where they don't want to go, which is part of it, too, is not only

Dusty Rhodes  24:03 

here on McGovern, Managing Director at Tobin Consulting Engineers has been an absolute pleasure talking with you, and thank you for making the time for us today. Thanks, Dustin. If you'd like to find out more about what we spoke about on the podcast today, you'll find notes and link details in the show notes or descriptionari of the podcast in your podcast player right now. And of course, you'll find more information and advance episodes on our website at engineers ireland.ie. Our podcast today was produced by dustpod.io for engineers, Ireland and if you'd like more, do click the Follow button on your podcast player so you get access to all of our past and future shows automatically. Until next time for myself to zero. Thank you so much for listening

AMPLIFIED: Ciaran McGovern, Managing Director Tobin Consulting Engineers

Forensic Analysis of Medical Devices: What happens when things go wrong

Achieving Athena Swan in Higher Education

Management of the Design of Temporary Works

Odran shares highlights of his career at the premier family-owned Coffey Group.

He reflects on his trajectory with the firm, favourite projects and most interesting challenges. The episode also looks ahead at the sustainability landscape, including a growing pressure to broaden the options available in terms of construction processes, materials and deployment.

You’ll hear about some fascinating new technologies (like those behind Coffey’s mobile emergency waste treatment plant design) and why it’s so critical that students in Ireland receive plenty of exposure to the many upsides of a career in engineering.

Odran also shares thoughts about the benefits of Continuing Professional Development programmes and the critical role EI plays in upholding a consistent gold standard across the engineering industry.


Topics we discussed include:

  • The M7 Motorway Project’s specific challenges and the creative solutions Coffey engineers found to make it all work.
  • How Coffey culture emphasizes CPS and why it promotes growth and advancement through ongoing professional training and accreditation.
  • Lough Talt Water Treatment Plant
  • How and why Coffey engineers designed a mobile emergency water treatment plant housed within a single 40-foot container
  • The advantage of plug-and-play installations as a time- and labour-saver and China’s lightning-quick ability to design and build fully equipped hospitals using this modular construction.
  • How “pilot” customers are deterred by perceived risk. Can you counter that anxiety with reassuring examples of successful work?
  • About Coffey’s most pressing challenges from labour to finite opportunity.
  • Odran’s predictions on the civil engineering sector, investment in housing, transport and energy and infrastructure improvements needed to support population growth and social demands.

Guest Details

Odran Madden is a Chartered Engineer with over 20 years experience in the construction industry and over 15 years experience at management level undertaking civil engineering and building construction projects of varying scales, values and complexities.

Odran has gained extensive knowledge and experience in water, wastewater, road, rail, energy and specialist engineering projects. His role is to ensure that all projects are completed safely, to a high standard, to our client’s satisfaction and that the project teams are provided with the necessary technical support and resources.

Odran holds BEng and LLB degrees, is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Quotes

“I quite enjoy working with water. It's very technically challenging, when you can take wastewater treatment to a safe and clean standard and give that water out to customers to drink, it’s very rewarding.”

“I've certainly come across resistance in Ireland to things like pre-cast concrete over in-situ concrete. Some people do have resistance but it's changing and becoming more and more the norm.”

“We don't really like change … (but) we need to allow the new innovative ways to advance.”

“If you're meeting strangers, they're less likely to accept something that's going to be a little bit different. So you do need to have strong relationships with people. That's why I think having that repeat business is so important to help you get stuff over the line.”

Contact Details

https://www.coffeygroup.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/odran-madden-226bb144/

More information

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For your convenience, here is a 90% accurate automated transcript of the podcast.

Dusty Rhodes  0:02 

Right now on amplified the engineers journal podcast, we're about to meet the managing director of coffee group adran. Madden are kind

Odran Madden  0:09 

of a person as an engineer, I would say typically they're well rounded individual who is attracted to technical issues and likes to solve problems.

Dusty Rhodes  0:40 

Hello there, my name is Dusty Rhodes and welcome to the engineers Ireland podcast where we're chatting with our community of creative professionals across the country, about how engineers are delivering sustainable solutions for society both now and in the future. Today, we're finding out more about coffee, the family owned firm who over five decades have operated in every major construction sector throughout the UK and Ireland, which is their success is down to the quality efficiency and a belief in their directly employed workforce. At the helm is a man who has been through the twists and turns of successes of the firm working in water, wastewater, road rail energy and specialist engineering projects. He has seen it all it's a pleasure to welcome managing director Odran Madden, how're you doing?

Odran Madden  1:25 

I just see how are you? Thanks for having me on.

Dusty Rhodes  1:27 

So water, wastewater, road rail, energy specialists, engineer, that is a long list of stuff you have done. Have you have you got a favorite project in there?

Odran Madden  1:37 

Yeah, look, it's quite quite a diverse range of projects. And I think coffee I suppose I've been very lucky that I've been able to touch across a lot of these projects. I started doing a lot of road projects when I started first as a graduate engineer, and progressed on to water. And I've done some very interesting projects as well across many sectors. We built a large motorway and in Limerick motorway so that when in a joint venture that was that was very interesting, very, very challenging as well. We did some very large reservoir projects, water towers. And we also did domestic water metering project for Irish water, which proved to be quite politically charged and challenging for us as a contractor to try and deliver on the ground. So yeah, we've we've had some we've had some very interesting projects over the years,

Dusty Rhodes  2:20 

it must be an absolute nightmare working with water, is it? No,

Odran Madden  2:24 

I quite enjoy it. I think it's it's very technically challenging, but very rewarding as well, when you know that you can, you can take some water wastewater treaters to a safe and clean standard and give that water out to customers to drink. It's very rewarding

Dusty Rhodes  2:40 

in that, in that sense, one of the biggest difficulties of working with water, while working

Odran Madden  2:44 

with water, when you take a role water source, you don't really know what's what's in it to start so. So you're designing for a standard of water to start and to treat that and, and that body of water can change and develop over a period of time. So you have to be quite dynamic in your approach and how you can how you can treat on an ongoing basis. And it can be very seasonal as well, different times of the year will bring different challenges when it comes to water water treatment. So yeah, it's it's quite challenging in terms of how you deal with that. Have you ever

Dusty Rhodes  3:14 

had a situation where you're going, okay, based on my experience, the water should do this. And then the water goes off and does something else.

Odran Madden  3:21 

It can just be programmed at the moment in terms of water leakage. And we've been doing quite a lot of work on whatever is water on that and you can repair, repair a section of pipe and think that's great. And then or we just find the next path to put some pressure on and, and cause problems somewhere else down the network. You can also treat water in a treatment plant, and water can be perfectly leaving the treatment plant when and when it gets down the network. It can cause additional challenges depending on the length of the network and the length of time it's been in the pipe. So

Dusty Rhodes  3:49 

can you give me an example of one of those challenges?

Odran Madden  3:52 

Yeah, actually, we had been working on on a project in in LA called fresh water, which was on a boil water notice for a long time and we put in an innovative process to treat the water there. But you know, there were challenges down the network after the treatment because of the length of the network pipe that's that's there around feeding, feeding 12,000 people around around Congress Lagos. So we had to revise some of the some of the treatment procedures there to try and enhance the water quality further on the network.

Dusty Rhodes  4:20 

Tell me about the motorway project that you mentioned in Limerick that's a huge job is that one of the biggest you've tackled?

Odran Madden  4:27 

It is is a single standard on contract. Yes, it is. We were in a joint venture there with two other partners that even even the relationships within the joint venture was more challenging as you can imagine. One of those was a European contractor as well. So we have had language barriers and cultural barriers as well as everything else. But yeah, it was a challenging project in terms of the terrain we were crossing there was a lot of deep bugs. Definitely a tough project to be on but it was it's really really rewarding when you you know get through a project like that and you open that road open you can see the commuters and people But traveling along that road and it being a safer environment for them to travel on,

Dusty Rhodes  5:04 

how do you build a motorway across a bog?

Odran Madden  5:08 

In that regard, we piled it actually, we put in lots of two 3000 concrete piles, we drove them down through the through the bog until they hit solid ground. We also did some quite another innovative technique on some of the smaller access roads and local access roads for farmers and landowners. Where we used tire bales, so basically tires, and we wrapped them in bales, and we put some geotextile around them and build stone over top. And so essentially, it's a floating road.

Dusty Rhodes  5:35 

What was the reaction when he came up with that idea? First, let's get some tires. Yeah.

Odran Madden  5:39 

Yeah, it's it's actually mean it has been used before. And it goes back to even even way back, you'd see that the online commission in the forestry, you know, using all three logs to line across the bugs. So you just, you know, put stone over them. And so the concept of a floating road has been around for forever, in Ireland when we're very used to bugs and having to travel across them. So that concept has been around for a while. Because they're floating, they typically move a little so you know, it's challenging for for a motorway standard road, but for a local access road. It's it's, it's a great solution.

Dusty Rhodes  6:13 

Would you say the bug was the biggest challenge on that motorway?

Odran Madden  6:16 

Yeah, it definitely was on that one. Yeah, absolutely.

Dusty Rhodes  6:18 

Why did you get involved in this business of engineering in the first place?

Odran Madden  6:24 

I guess I was always into construction. I always liked the concept of construction. I didn't I didn't come from a family background of engineers. My father was actually a hotelier. So in two hotels. My mother came from North mayo and a lot of our her brothers and she she had a lot of brothers, they all headed off into, into construction industries across them over to the UK. So they were kind of in that and, and I guess maybe that's where it came from. But I always, I always liked the idea of construction, seeing things being built, how they were built. And I guess I wanted to just get into that was kind of always where I was headed. I never had any doubt I never had any problem filling out my SEO form or anything like that. So yeah, it was quite quite easy for me,

Dusty Rhodes  7:05 

did you ever have something as a kid where you kind of looked at it and went, I wish I did that?

Odran Madden  7:08 

Things like the Lego on the mechanical and all these kinds of things I was, I was absolutely into, you know, again, during school, maths was always a forte, you know. So I was just that way inclined to think you know,

Dusty Rhodes  7:20 

so you're in the engineering business. All right, and you're doing very, very well at it. And now you find yourself in management, how do you go from your kind of the fun side of the business, if you want to put it that way into management? What happened? Yeah, it's

Odran Madden  7:32 

a kind of a gradual process to be honest, us too, because a coffee I was I was very lucky, when you come in at a very young age, you do get to manage aspects of work quite early on in your career, even as even as a graduate engineer. So you do get to kind of manage, you know, gangs of resources, managing materials, managing aspects of a site. So you progress on to managing a small construction site onto a larger construction site and onto a few construction sites at the same time. And it just, it just continues in that way. So it's quite organic, you know, you have that responsibility early on, within engineering that you can, you can do that, certainly from a construction point of view, which is, which is where I grew up if you like, was was on sites. I mean, I came out of college, I was in any way G and civil engineering student, I did a placement with coffee on a road. And then I come back as a graduate on to another project. And I've stayed the coffee, obviously, ever since throughout my career. So I know the business very well, obviously. But I know the path of progression, right from straight through from from being a student engineer, right up to being a managing director.

Dusty Rhodes  8:37 

So being an engineer and involved in Project you do have to manage people, that's that's just part of the gig. And it's kind of led you to where you are today. What about CPD? developing your skills along the way?

Odran Madden  8:48 

Yeah, that's an absolutely massive aspect of it, I think, and hugely important in any industry, particularly engineering construction, it has evolved so much over the years, and how we do things now is actually very different than how we did it in the past, the technology has advanced so much. It I mean, when I started off, you know, we didn't have computers, you know, no mobile phones were even, or even brand new. So we used to we used to handwrite everything that time and or we draw sketches out for the people on the ground and that kind of stuff. So, so it has evolved hugely to a point now where we're, we're using BIM models, and we're going out showing our people with you know, iPads on the underground and showing showing our for what they have to build on screens now. So it's, it's completely changed, you know, particularly when it comes to water water treatment, which is a lot of our business that has evolved as technologies evolve hugely there in that regard. And you know, you think of a business like ours typical construction business, I mean, we we have a lot of process engineers, mechanical, electrical, we have environmental scientists all involved in the process. It becomes quite diverse quite quickly and and CPD is is central to that because you have to understand everything you do as a business, I think and people have to get better and better and at understanding what they're doing in education is really important. And again, I coffee, we promote a lot of that even in terms of master's programs or further diplomas or, you know, as well as things, you know, generally CPD webinars and the like with the likes of engineers, Ireland and others.

Dusty Rhodes  10:19 

Let's talk about sustainability in engineering. How important do you think with the changing world and environment that we're going through how important is sustainability these days,

Odran Madden  10:29 

it's huge, because in construction, we produce a lot of concrete and stone and, and we're digging these things out of the ground. So so we're having a huge impact on the environment, during the projects we're doing so, so to try and positively impact on that for more sustainable methods is, is very significant. And it's really important that we do that. And again, for us, the whole water cycle is really important, and how we can reuse and recycle that water. And we do that so we can take a wastewater stream and ultimately put it back into into a drinking water standards that kind of reuse and recycle and trying to do that more and more also, without chemical addition, is quite significant. And General, other civil engineering products, I mean, the likes of concrete has evolved, you know, that we're using more sustainable concrete, and things like that on road projects, it's all it's all much more sustainable Now than, than it used to be making sure that we're catching any of the pollutants that maybe runoff from roads, and we're not allowing those to go back into the environment and into the, into the land, that kind of thing is growing. And I think we're improving as a, as an industry at that quite a lot over the last, you know, more or less 20 years, certainly.

Dusty Rhodes  11:36 

And where is this being driven by is being driven by customer demand? Or is being driven by, you know, the thoughts and solutions that engineers are coming up with?

Odran Madden  11:45 

Yeah, I think it's, it's probably a mix, businesses are always trying to do more and more sustainable things, particularly in more recent years. And I suppose for business's point of view, that's, that's probably a selling point. And also, so people are trying to corner a bit of America for themselves and come up with some some good solutions, which, which customers will want. And I think it's also coming from regulation, as well as a lot of that from from you're requiring certain standards that industry must comply with, tell me about air cough tech. Yeah, so cough Tech is a very interesting business. For us. It's something we launched during COVID. Actually, we had thoughts and ideas pretty COVID. But it's something we've just launched during COVID. And what what it is, is, it's where we design, manufacture and sell wastewater treatment related technologies. So we're doing so particularly in the modular treatment space. So we're we're basically designing and building here in our offices in Sri in Galway, we can ship them off to wherever customers need them. And we have some various customers in Ireland in the UK for those. And we also true Irish water, or one of our our clients, and they have donated to with the department to water treatment plants out to Ukraine to to help with the treatment of water out there. It's a quite interesting market is quite technical, trying to design a water treatment plant in a in a 40 foot container is essentially all it is. So it's it's yeah, there's this there's definitely an interest out there in the market. It's something that we can, we can build on and we're offering quite a lot a lot a number of solutions and water quality monitoring equipment, again, is is another aspect of of the caf tech business, where we can essentially install systems that allow industry and you know, local authorities and Irish water to understand the quality of the water they have, and then be able to design more defined treatment plants to treat floodwater to get them to the right level they're at. That's something that's becoming quite common now, particularly in industry,

Dusty Rhodes  13:41 

you say that you are building water treatment into essentially a 40 foot container is this designed to be like a permanent installation or a temporary one.

Odran Madden  13:51 

So they can be essentially the plants that we've we've sent out to Ukraine or are designed as an emergency water treatment, we modified the specifications slightly to suit to Ukraine, but they can be either. So in industry, we've put them in as, as permanent, you know, situations where they're just like to, it's a simple quick add on to the back end of a production facility with three units to defense forces as well. So their idea is that they're mobilized those out to Lebanon, or whoever they're mobilizing their resources to so so they can be used in both.

Dusty Rhodes  14:24 

It sounds absolutely fascinating that you've seen this problem in the world and you kind of went okay, we need to design a water treatment plant. And somebody came up with the idea of like, well, let's fit it into this space. Walk me through that project. I mean, when somebody has the first idea, what's the first thing that you do then to start developing it?

Odran Madden  14:42 

So once we have a an idea or a requirement to do something, we just get our project teams together and and we get a bit of brainstorming going and start teasing old ideas. And it's important when we're doing these things that we have people from different different aspects of our business from the construct Inside the design side, the operation and maintenance side because we also operate almost 50 treatment plants around the country so, so we have that experience as well. So it's pulling all the right people into a room together. And having a brainstorming session, essentially, to try and come up with a design, which will work to suit to suit the requirements of customers. The first design is never the final design, when it comes to these things, when you're, when you're manufacturing something, it will evolve, you will have continuous improvement, which is again, continuous improvement is something we're all about here a coffee as well. So it's important that we keep improving everything that we're doing, when it comes to these designs.

Dusty Rhodes  15:35 

So do you do a lot of computer modelling?

Odran Madden  15:37 

Yeah, BIM is a huge aspect of our business now as it will be for most most of businesses in engineering now. So yeah, we have full BIM capability. And we will, you know, when it comes to the likes of the modular treatment plants, they'll be all designed on BIM, particularly when you're talking about clash detection and things like that. So you can know that everything will fit where it should fit, you can get access to everything down in terms of maintenance and operations as well.

Dusty Rhodes  16:02 

And then when you're constructing and putting together your first physical model, surely you're coming up with parts and pieces and ideas that just aren't available in the market that you can just buy off the shelf, how do you construct it and put the whole thing together?

Odran Madden  16:14 

Yeah. So typically, when it comes to water treatment, you will have your overall process, you'll have a process design, which is the pressure filtration followed by UV disinfection. So so they'll be the key components, and then you're, you're just figuring out what how you move the water through the system, how you control and automate and manage that. So once you have two key components, everything else is available. I mean, all the things we use are available on the market, we don't typically design things that that's not available on the market yet, you know, so these are all typically tried and trusted technologies we're using, and it's just the configuration and and how you get the efficient use of space within that small space. Did you have an affordable container?

Dusty Rhodes  16:55 

And what drove that initial idea of trying to get it into a 40 foot container? Was that something that was happening in the world? Or was it just a random idea?

Odran Madden  17:03 

Yeah, no, it's look, it's something that's out there. So we're trying to do more more of that plus, the added benefit here is we can build it in a factory environment as opposed to on a site. So when you're building it in a in a factory environment, your quality is better your health and safety standards are better, you've got a better opportunity to refine and enhance your design. And it means less traveling around for you know, construction workers typically travel around so means less time traveling the countryside for, for a lot of our people, which is obviously much, much, much better for them, and a lot of them going to try and do is make sure that we can, we can get our people home every day, you know, as always, doesn't always work, of course and construction, but that's something we like to we like to try and do anyway. So there's just a huge amount of added benefits. Plus, you know, if you're working in a in a site or in a in an industrial situation, you're in and out quickly, you know, it's plug and play type approach, you're in and out quickly. The impact and you know, that you have the disruption that you have on businesses is smaller on on customers are small. So so that's that's important as well, I think that adds value.

Dusty Rhodes  18:05 

Getting away from the coffee business, we've come back. I'm just gonna thinking about out in the world things other people have done or big construction or engineering projects that have impressed you in the last two to three years.

Odran Madden  18:21 

I think in the last two or three years, I think some of the things that have been been really impressive we saw in in China at the outset of COVID, how they managed to build hospitals in a matter of weeks, which is, which is incredible when you when you think you know how long it might take us to do that here. You'd wonder how long had they been planning it in advance, but it's very, very impressive to build hospitals fully kitted out for patients very, very quickly, in quick charts way to sign so that's that's something that is certainly registered with me. And I think it feeds back into that whole modular construction as well, that offsite fabrication and construction, because that is the way we will build quicker as a society. It'll speed up the construction time. But certainly onsite time will will speed knowing, you know, I think that's that's that's going to be some of the future for us.

Dusty Rhodes  19:09 

I can understand where where you are on site and you're building it and you're actually putting it together and the building is taking shape. What if you're literally putting it together 50 miles away, and then you have to transport it. That's that's what I'm trying to figure out. What are the advantages?

Odran Madden  19:22 

Yeah, so typically, every component you're going to build on a construction service to be transported there anyway. So depending on where your production facility is, you know, there's probably no net gain or loss in transport. So the benefits come to the quality of the product in that it's built in a much more controlled environment rather than out on a construction site possibly opened in inclement weather or poor lighting or all the other issues that might might cause quality issues. Health and safety will be a massive benefit as well. And that you're having people working in a better controlled environment so that they're not walking across rough sites or sites. Are you gonna go up and down scaffolding to the same extent or excavations or just working in a more suitable location to carry out somebody's, somebody's works. And then I think you also have the benefit of the install timeframe. So the amount of time you're on site will reduce drastically as well. And that's a great benefit to the people who are there that you don't have to have people driving the countryside to go to the construction sites. And similarly to the customers, you know, that you're not disrupting or impacting on people in the way that you might if you're building everything, everything on a site, the efficiency, the safety, the quality, all those things, then obviously, can lead to, to commercial benefits as well.

Dusty Rhodes  20:41 

Do you think that there is an acceptance of this in Ireland or resistance?

Odran Madden  20:45 

I think we're getting there. I you know, I've certainly come across resistance in Ireland, and indeed, in the UK as well, when it comes to things like precast concrete over in situ concrete, some people do have a resistance to that it's certainly changing, and it's becoming more, more and more the norm, but there are still certain claims certain people who still are like the old way, I think there's an awful lot of that in construction that will, let's just stay with the trend. And trust it, because because it works. And we don't really like change, there's certainly an element that I think is sad, we need to we need to move another little bit with that and allow the new innovative ways to advance.

Dusty Rhodes  21:19 

And how do you get this across to people? How do you convince them?

Odran Madden  21:22 

I suppose the first thing people always look for all our references, you know, so the first time is always the challenge. So So you have to build pilot projects, you have to do pilots and basically tried to convince them to say, well, this is what we've prepared. And this is how it works. And, and yeah, there'll be an element of some people taking a chance on the first one. But the more we go with this, the more people will believe in, in the whole, the off site, or the modular or the, you know, doing things a little bit differently. And, yeah, I think it's, it's growing as a concept within the industry.

Dusty Rhodes  21:50 

Have you had a situation where you are there as an engineer, and you've come up with a brilliant solution to a problem. But you're trying to explain to the client that this is new, and they are going to be the pilot? And they're kind of going well give me a reference and you go well, I can't because you're the pilot? How does it? Have you had an experience like that?

Odran Madden  22:11 

Yeah, we have quite a few, there's this on a lot of projects, we'll have that we'll try and introduce and it might be just some, some new product. But yes, clients will say, Well, this is what I specified. So this is kind of what I want. And it's understandable as well, you know, they're, they might want to take the risk, they just want the project to work. So so you can see why there is a bit of reticence in, in accepting all of these new technologies. And, you know, I completely don't all work either. So it's, it's, it is understandable. So I think clients probably need to just be a little bit more open to reviewing it in a little bit more detail. You know, sometimes it's very quick, no, whereas, you know, it possibly should be a little bit. Okay, let's, let's, let's have a proper look at this and see what a work, you know,

Dusty Rhodes  22:55 

and there's a lot of a down to personal relationships and the length of the relationship and building up trust,

Odran Madden  23:00 

there's always an element of that, for sure, you know, and if you have a trusting relationship with somebody, which is huge in any business, but for us having having that relationship and a proper collaborative type relationship is really, really important. You know, because if you're meeting meeting strangers, they're less likely to accept something that's, that's going to be a little bit different. So you do need to have strong relationships with people and and that's why I think, you know, having that repeat businesses is important to help you get stuff over the line.

Dusty Rhodes  23:27 

Coffee is a very innovative company, and you're involved in a lot of very exciting things at the moment, where do you see civil engineering going in the future?

Odran Madden  23:37 

I think civil civil engineering will be will be huge, I mean, it and it has to be a minutes across all of the sectors we we need to continue to invest in, you know, we talk about about housing and transport and energy and civil engineering is the backbone of a lot of all of those things in all the infrastructure that's needed. So so as we have a growing and changing population in society, civil engineering projects will be absolutely required, we will need to continue to develop our infrastructure to keep up with that population growth and societal demands.

Dusty Rhodes  24:10 

And what kind of projects then are coffee working on at the moment in order to do that,

Odran Madden  24:14 

we do a lot in the water, water space, so water wastewater treatment, water obstructions, as reservoirs, pipelines. And we're doing some obviously transport projects and the like, and some of those projects are typically you know, client driven and that they decide what they want and we can build them where we are looking at things ourselves is from an energy point of view are things like how we use hydrogen in society and how we can we can help in terms of some of the aspects of that so there's certainly something something there and around the whole climate side and and renewable energy even you know, we're looking at the sites we operate and seeing how we can make doors more energy efficient and and how we can use renewable energy to help with those operations sites because energy energy is the biggest element of of a site when you're operating For a treatment

Dusty Rhodes  25:02 

that's significant. And where do you see hydrogen being used?

Odran Madden  25:05 

As you think hydrogen is a huge opportunity for for Ireland, we have a huge opportunity to produce and potentially export, we're not a big industrial country. So from a demand point of view, we don't have a huge demand there, we do obviously, in transport so, so buses and trucks and the lake is the obvious one, but it's a few of which can be can be stored. So we talk about, you know, what happens when the, when the wind turbines when the wind isn't blowing, so I think hydrogen can can help there. But I also think it's an export opportunity, you know, into places like Germany, and that where they don't have the wind power that we have from the Atlantic Ocean, there's an opportunity here, and we talk about the green hydrogen, which is obviously, you know, offshore wind to produce hydrogen, and I think that's, that's where I think we can have a huge benefit there.

Dusty Rhodes  25:51 

And then as a company, then what's the biggest challenge that you're facing at the moment,

Odran Madden  25:55 

the biggest challenge at the moment, to be honest, is resource, so trying to get the people to do all the work that our customers want. So as an industry, you know, construction, and the recession is very fresh in everybody's mind still. And so if a lot of parents perhaps out there, maybe saying don't go into construction, you know, you might not have a job and a few years, but I think it's it can be a really, really sustainable industry. And I think we do struggle to try and get engineers and trades, you know, apprentices we we try to take on a lot of apprentices do a lot of work going out to schools, you know, participate in Engineers Week with engineers, Ireland and things like that, trying to trying to sell the engineering brand, if you like and trying to encourage young people into construction and engineering. And it's tough because we're competing with you know, a lot of the foreign direct investment companies in in Ireland and a big pharmaceuticals and the tech companies, they probably seem much more attractive to young school kids know. So it's important that we can try and sell Construction and Engineering as as sustainable industries, older people can have a good career out of it. I absolutely believe they can. So yeah, that's our that's probably our biggest challenge right now. We could, you know, we could do more if we had more.

Dusty Rhodes  27:02 

And once you have people involved in the company, do you find it easy to retain staff?

Odran Madden  27:08 

No, we don't, I think it's, again, due to the location and you know, we've got construction sites all over the place, people don't generally want to travel as much anymore. I know when, when I came out of college, I was over, you know, delighted to move on to a different town every every so often. It was part of the experience. I don't think it kind of happens as much anymore. So yeah, so So from that point of view, it can be challenging at Coffee we've been trying to do a lot to retain our people and put people first and everything we're trying to do but it's it's it's attracting them in the first instances is a challenge and retaining is also challenging

Dusty Rhodes  27:42 

when you say keep up because I thought it was interesting that one of the things that coffee seems to be proud of is a directly employed workforce, what is the advantage for the workforce being directly employed as as opposed to being a contractor

Odran Madden  27:56 

for us to deliver projects being having that directly employed workforce means that we can control the production of the work control safety control the quality an awful lot better with our own people? We can we've we've got a lot of people who are with us 20 years plus, you know, in the business and and, you know, does it does, it does it obviously a strong loyalty there, from the company to the people and the people that accompany which is fantastic. And we like to try and use that to bring more kind of younger people through and get the training and experience from those, those more senior people in the business. And so, so we like to have that self deliver resource capability. And it gives us as a business then a greater understanding of, of what's actually involved in the work sometimes with subcontractors, you know, we can leave them to do their work, and not fully understand it. So, so we like to, you know, work with our people to try and help improve everything we're doing.

Dusty Rhodes  28:50 

And when you're trying to get people involved in the engineering business, what's what's your pitch, when you're out to talking to the parents of kids who are kind of wondering what am I going to do with my life?

Odran Madden  28:59 

Yeah, it just taught me a couple of different aspects of it, I suppose the you know, if you're looking at people going trying to convince people to go into the trades, I mean, the trades are whisked away trades like the blood playing in the plastering, and I think they're, they're tough to try and convince people going into legs those ones but but carpentry was always good on both mechanical and electrical, our are really really good trades to go into people can build really, really good careers. And not just necessarily in construction, but when you go into any manufacturing environment as mechanical electrical trades in there as well. So there's, there's a huge opportunity, I think, for anybody going into those kinds of trades and and and it can become quite specialist. You know, we're involved in a couple ourselves in developing some of the training courses even on you know, pipelining and things like that, but it can get quite technical. When you get down into the detail of what you need to do. You're teaching people some some really, really good skills that can be transferred to different industries and and can help people travel around the world as well if they if they so choose, you know, so give them that option. Their skills that there will always be be worked for So from from from a trades point of view, I think it's, it's a fantastic, you know, set of skills to learn and an ability for people to go down that road. From an engineering point of view, then people who are engineers are problem solvers. And I've seen lots of engineers and people who are on my own class in college, have come out of engineering, and they're, you know, high up in other businesses in other sectors, because you've got that problem solving ability and being able to manage people and being you know, because you get to experience managing people from from a young age. So, yeah, so there's a huge market there. I know, engineering is very diverse, in terms of what you can, what you can get into, there's lots of opportunities.

Dusty Rhodes  30:35 

Let me wrap up by asking about engineers, Ireland, what would you say is one of the most useful things that you have gotten personally from being a member of engineers, Ireland?

Odran Madden  30:45 

I think the CPD has been great. I think also the not the kind of networking opportunities you have within within engineers, Ireland is very good as well, you know, and they have two professional titles, I think that's really important. That gives you the, the recognition internationally, you know, being a chartered engineers is a fantastic title. And that is something that is recognized internationally. So again, you know, for people who who do decide to travel, and often people do, having that Chartered Engineer status is and title is, is really, really important. So, I think there are two big things that engineers can do to do really, really well.

Dusty Rhodes  31:22 

Can you give me a specific example of something that engineers Ireland did for you the push your career forward?

Odran Madden  31:27 

I think it's that we did get a lot of encouragement to go and do that. chartership and I think that's quite positive. And I think I know what helped me, you know, hear my own career even within coffee. At that time, I think, you know, people used to clients used to look for chartered engineers to, you know, to lead their projects. And so being able to have that on my CV was important for coffee to put forward and put names forward. So, so that is that has helped you

Dusty Rhodes  31:49 

out and Madden, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us today. Thanks so much to see. If you'd like to find out more about what we spoke about on the podcast today. You'll find Milton link details in the show notes or description area of our podcast on your player right now. And of course you find more information and advanced episodes on our website at engineers Ireland dot aid. Our podcast today was produced by does pod.io for engineers, Ireland and if you'd like more, do click the Follow button on your podcast player so you get access to all of our past and indeed all our future podcasts. Until next time, thank you so much for listening.

AMPLIFIED: Odran Madden, MD at Coffey

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