How did you begin your career with Kingspan?
Before I moved to Ireland I worked as an architect in Spain, but I wanted to do more research. I was accepted to do my PhD at Queen’s University and contacted several different companies to work in partnership with, including Kingspan. I got in touch with R&D at Kingscourt, and the connection was like love at first sight! The subject of my PhD was to develop a new product. That product was Sol-Air (also known as EnergiPanel) which I was proud to help bring to the market – the first of many product developments. From there I became a member of the Kingspan family, starting with the Panels division, and more recently helping to develop the newest division – Light + Air. One of the things I like is that, even though I moved divisions, I still have people contact me from Panels, and we work in collaboration from time to time.
Describe a typical day in your current role?
Previously I was travelling a lot of the time. Now in lockdown a typical day looks very different, because I am staying in one place, but can probably be more efficient. I am managing projects in the Middle East, where the team is 2 hours ahead, so I often have an early start to the day. Then I might have calls or meetings with people in Singapore, working on a project in Hong Kong, or move on to speak with people in Cyprus, Turkey, Iran or Holland – all of these different projects we are working on together. Then I will be on a call with the States, talking to the team out there. It’s often a long day talking to different people all around the world in different time zones, so I use a standing desk to make sure I can keep alert and active.
Before lockdown I would typically have one week working at home or at Head Office, followed by a week in Kuwait, for example, or doing the ’European tour’, stopping off at Amsterdam or Dusseldorf. There’s no question that things are more efficient now, it saves money, and most importantly it is better for the environment not to do so much travelling, but there are times when that face to face meeting is essential to help build trust and understanding, and that is still important too, so when the pandemic is over I expect we will be doing a bit more of that again.
What has been your career highlight to-date?
I think it has to be the work creating Kingspan Light + Air – a fully new division for Group. I have been allowed the freedom to develop my own role and take new paths. As an architect you want to design great buildings, but in this job, I get to create full building solutions that bring those designs to life. For example, the development of Kapture was great – finding ways to direct more light into buildings without glare or overheating. We recently won a contract working on one of the biggest airport developments in the world, building the entire roof, including skylights. It is going to be a landmark project and I am proud to be involved in it. One of the things we are looking at now is new ways to calculate how buildings work – how light and air flow through them. In this job, even the day to day stuff is exciting.
What inspires you about Kingspan’s future impact in the industry?
Being the leader that we are all around the world is very inspirational. It’s not just that our products can help people to control the environmental impact of the building envelope, we can influence the business side too. It’s part of our culture – we know what we need to do to fix what has been broken, and we’re not waiting for politicians to take action. From products that save energy or provide natural ventilation, to how we conduct our operations, we can see the impact that can be made, and we’re not just talking about it – we’re doing it! We can see the commitment from the very top, from our CEO to our factory workers.
What words would sum up Kingspan’s culture to someone considering joining?
- Like a massive family
- Horizontal way of operating
- Culture of mentoring