Technology Development Manager, Dublin Bus
Pursuing a career in engineering opens up a range of professional opportunities and learning possibilities for anyone who’s interested in STEM subjects.
In 2001, as an engineering graduate, Barbara O’Brien became the first female engineer to join Dublin Bus and today is the company’s Technology Development Manager, playing a fundamental role in integrating, supporting and maintaining on-bus technology. “Often people don’t fully understand the variety of engineering disciplines – it doesn’t always involve a toolbox,” says Barbara. “The fact that we are dealing more and more with technology means that a lot of engineering positions are computer based.”
Grow with further education
Barbara’s path to becoming an engineer started with an interest in STEM subjects at school, which led her to gaining a first class honours Degree in Mechatronic Engineering. She later took her career to the next level by studying for a Masters in Industrial Engineering, funded by the Education Support Scheme at Dublin Bus. “The opportunities for education at Dublin Bus are always there no matter your age, length of service or position. We have taken people into our department who don’t have a technical background and the Education Support Scheme has enabled them to gain the necessary technical knowledge,” she says.
Often people don’t fully understand the variety of engineering disciplines – it doesn’t always involve a toolbox.
Opportunities with apprenticeships
Being a graduate isn’t the only way of getting a career in STEM. An apprenticeship can offer valuable professional experience while learning key technical skills on the job. For example, Dublin Bus offers a heavy vehicle mechanic apprenticeship programme that is open to everyone who’s 16 years old or more.
The apprentices learn technical and computer-system skills, as well as having hands-on experience in day-to-day repairs and preventative maintenance tasks. “The areas available in STEM are so wide ranging that I don’t think people should tar it all with the same brush,” says Barbara. “Just get the experience, see what’s in there and discover the multiple opportunities in that area.”
A supportive and inclusive culture
A culture that encourages diversity and fosters a familial atmosphere has been key in helping Barbara grow and find mentors in her career. “The open-door policy we have in Dublin Bus is what really enables someone to learn, grow and develop,” she says. “This culture allowed me to choose my own mentor who has supported me as I moved into management in the last two years and she continues to support me going forward.”