Rónán Tinsley- MSc in Quality
Name: Rónán Tinsley
Current Job Title: Pharmaceutical Packaging Specialist
Can you share your career path to date?
For the last 12 years, I have been working in the pharma industry, I have worked as a project engineer, process engineer, validation engineer and now as a lead engineer for a large Danish pharmaceutical company.
What does your current role involve?
I’m the lead engineer for 6 high-speed pharmaceutical packaging lines just outside Copenhagen, Denmark. I sit on the site management team for our packaging process where I have a management role, defining engineering strategy for our packaging processes, providing engineering and quality perspective to management and supporting engineers in their projects and their development.
What motivated you to start studying?
I love to learn, and I felt it was the right time in my life to take an MSc.
Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo?
It’s difficult to pick a course from a prospectus, as it’s hard to fully conceptualise what the program entails until you start on it. As I had tried distance learning before, I made a list of the areas I was interested in learning about, and I had a goal of trying to find a course that covered at least 70% of the list. This was important to me, as I was knowingly giving up the next 2 years of free time. By the grace of Google, I set up a search of my list and ATU Sligo was one of the hits. I compared about 4 different courses that covered similar content in both Ireland and Denmark, and I liked the modules and their content based on the reading material listed. I felt it was something I could use in real life. After speaking with Dr John Donovan over the phone a couple of times and asking questions about the specific modules, I was impressed with the philosophy behind the program. It had the right level of theory, but the theory is relevant and up to date with current industry focus areas. So, I felt it was a good fit for me.
How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging?
I had tried an online course before, so I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. It takes a little time to adjust to the online delivery method, especially if you only experienced in-person lectures. It takes a new routine and motivation to study on your own. However, after Covid, I think there is a much wider acceptance of online meetings using voice/video. This will help a lot regarding participation etc. At first, people were reluctant to participate using voice/video when I took part, but that improved over time. I believe there would be a much faster adaption now too since most of us spent the last two years in a semi-virtual world.
How did you balance work and study?
I found it hard at times, mainly when I would get unplanned tasks at work or something unexpected would come up at home. There are only so many hours in the week and you quickly learn you can’t do everything. I was lucky to find courses that I was interested in and that made setting a time each week easier. The academic year structure has a healthy amount of holidays which allows you to catch up too for the times you do fall behind.
In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?
My employer was supportive, based on their review of the course and its content they were willing to reimburse my fees. What anchored much of the theory we learned was the ability to apply the framework to practical problems at my work. This leads back to how the course was designed with industry in mind. It equips you to see things from a new perspective which is good for learning, your development and in my case, the company I worked for too. I was able to use my organisation for a lot of the assignments, and case studies and as a source of data for all but one of the credit modules. It was also part of the reason I selected the course as it added theory to an area, I was interested in learning.
What advice would you have for anyone considering studying online?
Pick a course based on what you’re interested in. Then time isn’t as much of an issue and when it is, coffee, lots of coffee! If you’re unsure about what a module is about reach out to someone on LinkedIn that’s completed the course or contact a course coordinator. I think those insights help a lot when you’re going to invest so much of your own time.
In what way has studied online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career?
I used my organisation as a source for many of my assignments and projects. I gained a deeper understanding which allowed me to move up to the management team through the new insights and skills I gained. It also prepares you with a new tool kit that you can use to approach a large range of projects and issues.
Did you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-to-day role?
For sure, we have integrated system simulation to try and gain a better understanding of our current process and simulate proposed improvements. We use Advanced Experimental Design when defining process parameters and for optimising current processes. Understanding the theory of quality helps when designing and adapting QMS to new processes. Strategic and applied project management modules prepare you for a new skill set during discussions, planning and execution. So you really can apply all of the courses in some way.
What were the key skills you took away from your time studying at ATU Sligo?
A quote from W. Edward Demming sums up the key skills I learned:
“Experience by itself teaches nothing… Without theory, experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence, without theory, there is no learning.”
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