Meet Caitríona de Paor, PhD: Research manager, ROD-IS

Caitríona is a research manager with Roughan & O’Donovan Innovative Solutions (ROD-IS). She joined the company in 2017 after spending several years working in the oil and gas industry.

When not working on commercial and European-funded research projects, Caitriona plays touch rugby with the Irish Ladies team.

How has your experience working in academia and in the oil and gas industry helped you in your current role?

My experience in academia allows me to anticipate the priorities of our academic partners on research projects, while my industry experience gives me a business focus.

While working in the oil and gas sector, I actually worked on a number of projects where we monitored the motions of subsea equipment, similar technically to the Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of bridges we are currently working on in the EU-funded SAFE-10-T project.

What has been your most challenging project to date?

In my previous role, I was asked to fly, at short notice, to a drillship offshore Uruguay to help troubleshoot software we had installed on board.

It was challenging logistically, and communications with the team at base were difficult as WiFi on-board was poor given our remote location.  However, we managed to overcome these problems and re-configure the software

Is it hard to find female role models at a management level in engineering?

Unfortunately, it is. Throughout my career, I have never had a female manager, and I am regularly the only woman in the room at meetings I attend.

I have been very fortunate to have some inspiring male mentors but I would love to see more women at director and management level.

Achieving gender parity in engineering is viewed as critical. Do you think women bring particular skills and insights to engineering?

Yes, I think women generally bring a more empathetic mindset to engineering projects, especially when considering human factors in a project, such as end-user needs.

I also think having a more diverse workplace enhances the working environment and leads to a more encouraging place to work.

Roughan & O’Donovan employs some top-level sportsmen and women. What is it about athletes that make good engineers?

When you’re an athlete competing at a high level, you need to be organised and disciplined, two characteristics I think are also important in engineers.

When working on a busy engineering project, with multiple elements running concurrently, being able to plan and prioritise tasks is key.