While for many of us, just running to meetings and chasing deadlines is enough to make us sweat; not so for the engineers in Roughan & O'Donovan juggling the pressures of intense training commitments with big projects.

From pole vaulters to track runners, long-distance swimmers to GAA footballers, cyclists to touch rugby players, the company is rich in sporting talent.

But is it possible to balance a demanding job with a sporting career while maintaining quality in both? 

Time management skills

'Top sportspeople are extremely organised, disciplined and efficient with their time, skills which are very useful in an engineer,' says Roughan & O'Donovan's Technical Director, Joe Kelly.

A former All-Ireland handball champion, Kelly understands the commitment athletes performing at a high-level must give to their sport. But he also appreciates that intensity of effort and determination is highly-valuable in a work setting. 'Their weeks are pressurised, so they know how to concentrate their energies and give maximum effort on a regular basis,’ he says. 


Caitríona de Paor, research manager with ROD-IS, agrees.  She sees her experience as a member of Ireland’s touch rugby team as a valuable asset in the work environment.  ‘Understanding team dynamics and what motivates a team to win is just as relevant when working with multiple partners from diverse backgrounds on projects as it is on the field,’ she says. 


On the other hand, record-breaking Channel swimmer, Owen O’Keefe, believes individual-focused sports, such as swimming and running, help develop strong stamina.  ‘Being a long-distance swimmer means getting up early, with nobody to drag you out of bed, and training hard, with nobody watching, for months on end.  I bring this self-discipline to bear on my work by breaking down tasks into smaller, achievable goals to help overcome what can sometimes feel like insurmountable challenges,’ he says.


For Thomas Houlihan, the national pole vault champion, knowing how to win, how to lose, and how to rebound from both, is just as important in the workplace as it is on the sports field.  ‘Persevering through diversity is something engineers have to be good at because we meet so many challenges working on large-scale, complex projects. A positive attitude is helpful because, ultimately, coming up with the solution is all that matters,’ he says.


'Engineers tend to be goal-driven and focused, so the skills you learn in preparing for a long season in athletics cross-over nicely,' says Robert Corbally, the national 5km silver medallist.  ‘When you are training for competition, you can expect set-backs and injuries.  So, thinking strategically and screening out competing priorities to stay focused on the overall goals is important,’ he says.


So, back to the question. Do athletes make good engineers?  

The answer is yes because, with the right attitude and commitment, athletes can use the skills gained from playing competitive sports to boost their performance as engineers.