Conor McKiernan, Project Manager, AbbVie
What does your job involve?
I'm working on a global engineering project at the moment as part of the supply chain quality division. I'm working in many different timezones so that usually dictates my day. My European based meetings are in the morning and my U.S. based meetings are in the afternoon. One part of my job I really like is that there's quite a lot of travel involved as I'm the main point of contact for many of our sites across Europe, so it's quite interesting getting to travel to the different locations and meet the different people involved from different backgrounds.
What skills are important to be successful?
The most important skill for the role I'm doing currently would definitely be communication. To be able to communicate effectively, clearly and concisely, particularly when you're dealing with individuals whose first language isn't English. Another thing that's very important in my role is the technical detail, having that technical knowledge of systems.
What do you love about your job?
What I love about my job is the variety. Since I've started, no two days have been the same. As part of my current role I'm getting to do a lot of travel and meet a lot of people from right across the organisation so that's something I'm really enjoying at the moment. I'm also enjoying getting an out of area assignment. The role I'm in at the moment isn't typically something that a mechanical engineer would be doing. It's giving me a good chance to see part of our wider global operations.
What advice would you give a first year student?
As part of my education, obviously the technical piece was really important but something that I'm learning now is to be able to get your message across through presentations. Luckily that was something we practiced a lot in my university so with most of the modules we did, we had presentations as part of it and that's really standing to me in my career at the moment because there isn't a week goes by that I don't do presentations.
What was your 'career break'?
For my role at present my career break came when I was asked during my internship with Abbvie to present on the work that I had been doing to senior management. This was quite a good opportunity for me to raise my profile within the company. I prepared quite well and luckily it all went off to plan. People were impressed and this was ultimately the platform that got me to where I am today.
What misconceptions are there about this industry?
The biggest misconception about a career in science or in industry would be that your technical knowledge that you attain during university would be sufficient to sustain you throughout your career. Industries change and you need to be willing to change with them. You need to be continuously improving and expanding your knowledge in order to sustain yourself throughout your career.