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Employee Stories: Achieving work-life balance by Peadar O’Dalaigh

By Peadar O’Dalaigh, Chartered Engineer, 4site

One of the interesting things about being an engineer is that it gives you a range of skillsets that are highly transferrable. So it’s not uncommon for someone with a degree in engineering to end up in financial services or data analytics, because the core skills are the same – an analytical mind, good communication skills, forensic attention to detail, sideways thinking and being comfortable with numbers.

When I find myself speculating on how different my life would be if I was wearing a suit everyday, working extremely long hours in a city-centre corporate office, I remind myself that I’m doing something I love. And in conditions that suit me. It might sound like an unlikely comparison, but I consider engineering as much of a vocation as nursing – you have to feel personally driven to want to do it.

Career options

When did I get the bug? In truth, by a process of elimination. At school I had a transition year job with a solicitor and was so bored that it put me off law for life.  An aversion to sickness and hospitals knocked medicine off the list. A career in business just seemed like something other people did and had no appeal.

I was running out of ideas, but if you’re expecting a Road to Damascus conversion you’ll be disappointed. It was a career guidance teacher that took one look at my leaving cert subjects – physics, chemistry and applied maths – and said. “So you’re going to be an engineer then.”

I went on to UCD where I studied civil engineering and discovered a passion for mountain climbing on the college climbing wall. Little did I know that my job and hobby would end up connected, but that was much later, after I lived in Nepal. My wife was working there for Unicef and I had an amazing time pursuing my favourite outdoor activities – white water rafting, mountain biking, as well as mountain climbing.

When we returned to Ireland to have our first child I thought at the time the next move would be to Canada. Then a friend called to say he’d found the perfect job for me – 4G was being rolled out across Ireland and engineers were wanted who could climb up cell site towers. The company was 4site and the rest is history.

Wide-ranging skills

After college and before Nepal, I worked with Malone O’Regan, one of Ireland’s most successful engineering and environmental consultancy practices. I found it a hugely positive experience, introducing me to a wide range of skills on a variety of project types, from designing houses and apartment blocks, to structural engineering of industrial buildings, to site inspections and coordination with other trades and services.

I also learnt about job satisfaction. You have to take work seriously but not so seriously as to get stressed and uptight. It’s all about work-life balance, something I have been able to sustain to this day at 4site.

I joined the company in 2013 and was soon climbing lattice towers across the country. It was my job to survey each site, measure all the steel members, return to the office and use structural design software to confirm the best way to mount the antenna. The job is varied because no two towers or hilltop locations are ever the same.

I expect this part of my job to ramp up again as 5G is rolled out in the coming months. Meanwhile, I have been developing other skills in 4site, getting more interested in the executive side of the business, not just the technical. One of the things I did was chair the internal team responsible for driving through the CPD Accredited Employer standard for Engineers Ireland.

Transparent culture

I love the diversity of the job. You never do the same thing twice and there are always new challenges. 4site is very accommodating and lets me achieve the work-life balance that’s so important to me. I could be sending out emails late into the evening; but the other side of the coin is that I might take a longer lunch break if I have to do the school run.

4site has evolved quickly over the last few years, going through the transition from small to medium-sized business. I’ve seen it grow in a good way with robust structures and processes put in place to better support a larger workforce. It remains very transparent with a culture that encourages you to share your views or express any concerns you may have.

But what I really like about the company culture – which originates from CEO and owner Ian Duggan – is that the focus is on always doing the right thing, figuring out the problem correctly rather than churning out a makeshift solution.  As Ian says, “A client will forget if you’re late, but they will never forget if you’re wrong.”

If you are interested in joining our 4site team, contact us about open roles. http://www.4sitenetworks.com/careers/

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