Catriona Kennedy

Manager, Global Communications, EU

February 12, 2020

Team Member Spotlight: Karol Chodkiewicz, Senior Automation Engineer, Dublin, Ireland

In our latest Team Member Spotlight, read about the learning and development opportunities available at West and how Karol progressed from his starting position as a production operator to his current role as Senior Automation Engineer at our Dublin facility in Ireland.

Tell me about your current role at West
I currently work as a Senior Automation Engineer, overseeing a team of engineers and technicians within my business unit, responsible for the automation assets for one of our customers in Dublin. It basically involves managing the assets and the 16 people within the team.

Can you share some background on your career path at West to date?
I first joined West a little over eight years ago and believe it or not, I started through an agency as a Production Operator. I was working on the production floor, inspecting the components on the molding machines and packaging product. When my initial contract expired after 11 months, I received an offer to stay with West permanently, which I accepted, and worked as a Production Operator for another six or seven months. I did my best and worked hard and, thankfully I was noticed and was offered an opportunity to go to college and start my engineering journey. Of course, I accepted and started my mechatronics course. I always wanted to be an engineer, but I couldn’t afford to go to college at that time, so I was really happy that West gave me that opportunity. I did my course in addition to working full time at West, mainly in the evenings and on the weekends. There was a lot of online modules too. It was challenging and there was a lot of work and study over a five-year period, but it all paid off in the end.

While I was still studying, not even a year after starting my permanent production operator contract, I was offered an Automation Technician role. I worked in that role for about three and a half years and, in the meantime, I secured my engineering qualification.  I felt that my qualification combined with the experience gained as a technician in the automation field had given me enough experience and knowledge to apply for an engineering role, which is what I did, and I got it! I worked as an Automation Engineer for the next three years and just recently got promoted to the Senior Automation Engineer. So that’s my career progression in a nutshell and I’m very pleased with the steady progression I have made.

That must have been a very challenging time for you, balancing your study with your workload and personal life. Did you always feel well supported by West?
Yes, West always gave me enough time to study – I got extra study and exam leave days in addition to my normal annual leave which was very helpful. Otherwise study would have consumed all my spare time, and everyone needs some down time. Of course, I had to sacrifice some of my personal annual leave time because I wanted to achieve the best results I could, but that was my choice; I didn’t have to do that. Sometimes college overlapped with my shift schedule, but it was never a problem for me to leave early for college.

What do you enjoy most now about your role at West?
For me, engineering in general is very interesting – I think what I enjoy the most is that you are never bored and there’s always something going on. Due to the nature of the equipment and the process, there’s always something else happening, with new challenges and problems to solve – sometimes exciting, other times frustrating, but never boring!

So, what are the most exciting or cool things you get to do in your role?
I think working with new technology is the most exciting thing for any engineer. I’m an engineer and this is not only my job, but my passion too – so I love everything technical and I like the problem-solving aspect that comes with it. There’s a certain satisfaction you gain from fixing something, so it’s really rewarding if you manage to solve a challenge that lots of people struggled with.

What do you like most about working for West?
If you work hard and you put a little extra effort into what you’re doing, you will be noticed and appreciated – I think I’m a good example of this. After getting the opportunity to go to college, it opened the door for me to develop my career and get some promotions along the way. The fact that I transitioned from a production operator to a senior engineer is still pretty mind blowing for me.

Tell me about your colleagues, what makes the people at West special?
There’s always good teamwork going on. I have never come across a situation where I was refused help, so if you ask for help within or even outside your team, you’ll always get the support you need. I feel like everyone is a team player and the friendliness from everyone is great.

When you think about our mission to improve patient lives around the world, how do you think you help accomplish that mission within your role?
All the work we do is to make a device that a patient will use to deliver the drug that they need. It’s critical that we make sure that excellent quality products are made and delivered on time. My engineering team and I always try to address all issues in a timely manner and maintain the quality of the product, which will ultimately improve a patient’s life.

We’ve spoken a lot about your career and experiences at West. What do you like to do in your spare time?
It’s all related to engineering really, as I said it’s not only my work, it’s my passion too. I like technology and messing around with computers. I have a 3D printer and a robot that I built at home and I like playing around with them, it’s a good way to learn new stuff. I like cars as well and very often do maintenance on my own car just because I enjoy it. These hobbies also help me with my work at West! A non-engineering hobby I have is that I play guitar, I love music and I have a few guitars at home, and I like to play to relax and recharge my batteries. 

To learn more about working at West, visit our Careers page.

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