Career Profiles: Ronan Wall

1. What is your name?
Ronan Wall

2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
I work in Moog Dublin Operations near Blanchardstown as a Programme Manager

3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
The main ones were to seek a job in the space industry during my PhD in physics, which was a modest change of direction. There was also a major change in leaving Airbus Defence and Space to join Moog in 2011. There have also been some milestones where I chose NOT to pursue job offers as well which are as significant.

4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Space scientists and engineers when giving talks describing their work has always inspired. Specifically, the nanosat revolution has always kept me interested and I was fortunate enough to be involved in it in a mission previously

5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
On the whole yes. There can be a little too much travel on occasions which impacts personal life quite a bit but not to intolerable levels. You have to get good at planning!

 

Questions about your current Job

6. How did you go about getting your current job?
A friend was working in the company and informed me of the vacancy. It matched the change I wanted to make so I put my CV in, interviewed three times and that was that.

7. Describe a typical day?
Meetings. Emails. Telephone calls. Sounds rough but at least the content of them is interesting and the projects you are working on are involving space technology!

8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Trying to keep the programs on cost and on schedule. Developing future work. Listening to the engineers to support their needs. Reporting to senior management about performance of the programs both technical and financial. Supporting meetings with customers such as the European Space Agency, Airbus Safran Launchers, Snecma.

9. What are the main challenges?
A majority of my programs are development activities so you are doing things for the first time. That always means things do not go as planned so the challenge is in trying to provision for these unknown problems in terms of cost and schedule margins, or changing the direction of the activity to one that makes more sense. It’s got to be flexible management. The other programs that are putting through existing products rather than new ones have different challenges like – managing the supply chain properly, ensuring quality of the production, making small savings where possible.

10. What’s cool?
Working on a rocket engine that European Space Agency will use for future Mars missions! Working on new manufacturing technology and programs developing new capability in the company are excellent also. Being able to spend time doing lectures in University College Dublin in their MSc in Space Science and Technology.

11. What’s not so cool?
Having to account for every hour of every day worked and charge it to a project! The long delays of the space industry are a drag also.

12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Organisation. Listening. Experience in wider space industry. Proposal Writing. Communication.

 

Questions about education and training

13 . What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Physics Chemistry and Mathematics were the favourite and a pre-requisite for what I do now.

14. What is your education to date?
BSc Joint Honours Physics / MSc Radiation Physics / PhD Nuclear Physics

15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Dealing with uncertainty. Making assumptions and progressing. Understanding complex systems and their interaction. Basic material physics.

16. Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Yes – in program management and proposal development.

 

Questions about yourself

17. . What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
I was founding Program Manager for the UKube-1 mission, the UK’s first national nanosatellite. I was seconded to the UK Space Agency to work it and got to meet some brilliant people there and in UK space community. It launched in 2014 and I was in mission control in the UK for that and the first contact. Stunning!

18. What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Patience. Listening skills. Presentation skills.

19. What is your dream job?
Mixing it up with a bit of lecturing, working on a nanosatellite program and other programs.

 

Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

20. What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Get broad experience in the industry. Get some qualifications in Project management. Do a course in proposal writing and compilation.

21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Tenacity, patience, organisation.

22. What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Set up or run your own society, or club or small business – a lot of the people management stuff is there. Do something that is connected to space- for example internship at ESA or Young Graduate Trainee scheme or internship at a space company or university.