Name: Elizabeth Carroll-Twomey.
Job title: Senior Research Administrator at CIT. I am the Host Site Coordinator at CIT for one of the biggest space events to ever come to Ireland, the International Space University’s Space Studies Program. I am responsible for managing 320 international space experts who are in Cork and CIT for nine weeks this summer, in addition to an extensive number of public events aimed to excite people, young and old, about the opportunities in space. For more see www.ssp17.ie
Education background: Primary and Secondary School, St Angela’s College, Patrick’s Hill; Cork College of Commerce — Information Processing and LIFE.
Hobbies: Reading, cooking, interior design, gardening, dance (watching... I can move but am not a dancer — I love to watch others perform), walking, tennis, films — a convert to Netflix.
I’m a voracious reader and will read almost anything: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, current affairs and anything of an historical nature. Backs of cereal boxes, if nothing else is to hand!
I cook and entertain a lot at home. My kitchen is always open and anyone who calls will be fed! I come from a large family and have three children and a husband. Being one of nine, there is literally never a dull moment.
I find gardening very therapeutic and love selecting plants for the garden, low maintenance ones preferably! DIY — I’ve hand painted quite a lot of furniture in our home and do all the wallpapering and painting. I love picking up pieces for the house but I’m not compulsive. If I Iove it when I buy it, then it’s with me, or rather us, for life.
Now that Netflix has been introduced to my life, programmes such as Bloodline, The Crown, etc, and dare I say it Gossip Girl. I’m hooked!
Describe your job in five words: Dynamic, ever-evolving, responsible, challenging, satisfying.
Describe yourself in five words: Loyal and trustworthy, reliable, tenacious, practical and very sociable.
Personality needed for this kind of work? Attention to detail and persistence, reliability, need to be proactive and able to work on your own initiative, you need to be able to hold your own with senior figures and really need to be able deal with a lot of different issues, more often than not at the same time. You need to be able and to have the interest in travelling when it’s required and really need to be able to adapt quickly.
How long are you doing this job? Eight years.
How did you get this job? Prior to working with CIT, I had worked with private companies mostly. I’ve had quite a varied career path. It’s always been in administration but it has covered many different aspects.
My first job was with a US food company, where I began as a receptionist/Inventory and Logistics administrator. I was there for eight years and in that time, I also covered the role of Accounts Payable/Receivable Administrator. Before I left I had been promoted to Expert/Shipping Coordinator. In those eight years I would have to say I learned a lot as I was exposed to so many different roles. The company was big on personal and professional development so I did all the courses on offer.
From there, I moved to a professional development training and consultancy firm to a marketing and customer service position. This was quite different to what I had done before but given that I engage well with people and have good people skills, for want of a better term, I quite enjoyed it and it honed those skills even further. Moving on from there, and given that I had two young children, I was fortunate to move to a company that was more conveniently located for my home life and had flexible hours. This was my first time working within the public sector as it was set up by the 13 Institutes of Technology and Enterprise Ireland to facilitate research and development within the IOTs and act as the interface between business and research. This gave me the grounding in research and development and actually laid the foundation for the role I’m doing today. Due to the IoTs expanding their roles in research and innovation over the years, they now house those elements within their core functions, so applying to CIT for a position seemed a natural fit due to my particular skillset and experience.
Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Experience of the research landscape, both nationally and internationally, is a must; experience with problem solving and senior administration is also essential.
Describe a day at work: No two days are the same, except for the speed and level of pace at which we work. I could be travelling for a meeting; working on a funding proposal or proof-reading a thesis; organising training/workshops for the researchers or exploring new software that could better enable them to further their research and careers.
I could be flying to another country to attend a conference for research officers or travelling to a project meeting for the European Student Parliament, for which I’m the project lead in Ireland, or working on the administration of a very busy office.
I could be attending internal meetings on anything to do with driving the research and innovation within the college and supporting our research community, be it from the roles and responsibilities functions to liaising with different actors on a new lab or building project.
How many hours do you work a week? I commenced with 20 hours initially but the position grew as I grew with it and I have been working 40 hours for the past six years. It’s more like 70 hours a week at the moment.
What do you wear to work? It varies. I always like to look smart and be prepared for anything so you’ll never catch me too casually dressed in work. I like clothes, jewellery and shoes A LOT. Depending on what’s planned for the day, my shoes will determine the outfit!
Is your industry male or female dominated? There tends to be quite a balance between male and female in Research Offices in general.
Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: I try not to get stressed but it is and can be hectic. I’m good at juggling a lot at the same time and, to be honest, that’s needed. Since I began eight years ago, I’ve been involved with a few really large projects where attention to detail and the execution of that detail has been paramount and therefore can be quite pressurised when adhering to strict guidelines and deadlines.
SSP17 has been all encompassing and I’m immersed in every detail. A lot of delivering on the project has relied on coming up with new ideas to make this the best SSP ever.
Do you work with others or on your own? Depending on the project, it could be just me and then I can jump to working with quite a lot of people, For this particular project. SSP17, it has involved working and liaising with tens of people and keeping track of that. I work very closely with the Head of Research and with the team at BCO.
When do you plan to retire or give up working? Not any time soon. With a daughter in college abroad and one about to go to college and another to follow shortly thereafter, I’ll be working for another 20 years maybe. I’m not sure, I love a good project and a challenge and really enjoy being in the thick of organising something.
Best bits: I’ve been lucky to have travelled to different places for work, including Haifa, Israel and Ohio, and over the past two years whilst working on the ISU SSP17 Project, I’ve been exposed to people from all over the world with many different cultures, who have one thing in common, their passion for space. I’m not a space buff, shhhh… but being surrounded by space enthusiasts, it’s going to rub off!
Worst bits: The hours are very long at the moment and you always feel you have more to do, even though I’m a fast worker. I guess the worst bit for me would be if we missed a deadline and I’m not going to jinx that by saying it ... I can’t say that I’ve never wanted to not go in to work. Perhaps if it’s 30 degrees outside then I might find it hard! I’m a fair-weather person.
Advice to those who want your job? Having a positive outlook and a ready smile may seem trite but for me has served me well. A smile and friendly nature goes a long way in any job. Having a can do attitude and the tenacity to see projects through to the end.