Career Profiles: Lee Barry

What is your name?

Lee Barry


Company Information

Name of Company/Organisation you work for:


What is your position in the company/organisation?

Operations Manager

Tell us a little about the company you work for and how it’s involved in the space sector

Varadis design and sell RADFETs. The Varadis RADFET is a microelectronic chip, specially engineered to be sensitive to high energy (ionising) radiation. The RADFETs are small, robust, require no power to detect radiation, can easily be integrated into electronic systems, and are cost effective. They are used to monitor the exposure of Astronauts and electronics to harmful radiation. Additionally, they are used for scientific experiments and measurements.


Questions about your current Job

How did you get your current job?

I previously worked in electronics and on medical diagnostics, some of which was funded by the European Space Agency. So, I have had a long interest and involvement with space products and technology, so I was delighted when approached to work with an Irish company in the area.

Describe a typical day.

Most of our team work with the Hybrid model in that we can be in the office or remote. Our customers are all over the globe so the day normally starts by reviewing and answering customer requests that come in overnight. I then focus on our business and operational requirements along with arranging product shipments. Throughout the day there can be meetings (typically virtual) with the team, our customers or our partners.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes, while we travel less now (since Covid) a remote working/hybrid model has always suited me and allows me to have a good work life balance.

What’s the coolest part of your job?

Well, we get to hear about cool and mad ideas that people are sending up into space. I also got to visit ESTEC in the Netherlands where they have full scale mock-

ups of some of the ISS modules, especially a full size replica of the Columbia Space laboratory.

Are there any elements of your job that you dislike?

None really, although having a bigger budget to do everything we’d like would be nice.


Questions about education and training

What subjects did you take in school/college and how have these influenced your career path?

I got a B. Eng. in electronic engineering from MTU (formerly CIT, and it was the Cork RTC back then!) and this allowed me to do a masters in microelectronics in UCC (Tyndall). These allowed me to work in the, I suppose high-tech side of industry. This gave me the opportunity to work in small and start-up companies which is where I prefer to work.

What non-technical skills are necessary for your job?

Like any job, but especially management, people skills are essential. The ability to prioritise and multitask are also important, along with the acceptance that you and your team will make mistakes and it’s not about blame it’s about what you can learn from.

How did you develop those 21st Century Skills?

I wouldn’t regard them as 21st century, but people skills, from observing the managers I worked from that were good and successful. Some of these skills I could adopt, others would not suit my approach so it’s seeing what works for you. Some things I will never really excel at, but even those, I either try to gain to a reasonable level or sometimes it’s best to just put your hand up and say “I think you or someone else is better than me at that task.”


Questions about yourself

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Seeing work we’ve done go into space is great and being awarded a few patents was professionally rewarding. Seeing people I hired from college and help train, go on and become successful is a great reward, even, if in time, some of them will possibly become my boss.

What is your dream job?

I would think being involved in travel as a personal planner or travel journalist would be cool.


Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

What advice would you give to someone considering this job? Are there important personal characteristics, or good work experience they can undertake for example.

First of all, it’s not a job per se, a career would be a better description. On the technical side a good engineering degree obviously. But even experience working in electronics assembly or repair would be of benefit. Like lots of careers an enquiring mind is required but balanced with an ability to make decisions even if you do not have all the data you would like – perfection is the enemy of completion. A willingness to make mistakes and putting your hand up when they happen is a very underrated positive trait in my view. Just as important is a positive and productive approach to when someone on your team does this.