With 10 years under his belt, former Kirby apprentice and Limerick Institute of Technology graduate Brendan Muldowney reflects on the start of his career and looks forward to his future in this #PeopleFirst interview.
One of Brendan’s career highlights to date was representing Ireland in industrial control at the World Skills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017. He was one of 14 young people from Ireland to represent the emerald isle at the Olympics for apprentices, which takes place every two years. More than 1,200 people from 68 countries competed that year.
The category of industrial control sees competitors install, troubleshoot, and maintain industrial automated and electrical production systems against the clock, something that Brendan excelled in thanks to his role as a Kirby Electrical Engineering Apprentice.
He qualified to go to Abu Dhabi in 2016, taking home a Silver medal at the Irish National Skills awards, being crowned national champion in his category. He was also named Apprentice of the Year in Industrial Control at the Annual EIFI Electrical Industry Awards in 2015.
Ahead of flying out to the World Skills competition in 2017, Brendan told Journal.ie: “My father is an electrician and a few of my uncles are too. I’d always watched him work when I was younger. I’d originally planned on joining the army but three months after finishing school, I decided to go for this. I said I’d give it a chance.
“Only two of us out of my Leaving Cert class did apprenticeships. A lot of the other lads just wanted the whole college experience and thought that you couldn’t have that if you did an apprenticeship. People used to ask me why I wouldn’t go to college, but I just wanted to go working and I made the right choice for me.
“Some parts of the course were hard, but I enjoyed the challenge. It’s easy to learn about something that you are actually interested in.”
We asked him whether he thought the perception of apprenticeships had changed since then, “I think people see that you can have both experiences. I’ve proved that. I completed my apprenticeship and then went on to college and worked while doing both. It allowed me to earn money and get on the job experience. It meant that when I finished college, I had mentors both within Kirby, but also at college. I got the best of both worlds. I would encourage people to explore their options and consider an apprenticeship.”
Brendan was one of the first to complete the two-year, fast-track course to become an electrical engineer at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), now known as Technological University of the Shannon. The programme was launched in 2018 as part of joint programme to ensure the future of the industry by LIT and a consortium of engineering companies, including Kirby.
“Kirby was very supportive of my doing the degree, I saw it was being launched and put in an application for funding to Kirby’s HR team. I had approval and the papers the very next day,” says Nenagh-native Brendan.
Now working as a Turnover Engineer in Tullamore, Brendan oversees the works packages, liaising with the main contractor and client to bring our customer’s vision to reality.
We asked him about what he enjoys about life at Kirby, “We all get on as a team, we have good craic in the office, and get down to the job and work together to achieve our targets. I have worked with a number of teams across the business, and it’s always been the same, we work hard together to achieve.
“There’s also plenty of opportunities to get involved with charity challenges, it means you get to meet people from across the company and do something good for others.”
Brendan is ambitious and hopes to become a regional manager overseeing commissioning within the next 10 years.
“The only thing that limits your career at Kirby is you, if you put in the hard yards, your investment in Kirby will be repaid with plenty of career development and opportunities to progress,” ends Brendan.
To find out more about apprenticeships and careers at Kirby go to: careers.kirbygroup.com.