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A day in the life of Colm O' Riordan

Age: 33 years

Biography: Colm O’Riordan has worked for TOMRA Sorting Food since February 2016. Operating from the Dublin office, he plays a key role in the design and development of the optical systems for a wide range of TOMRA sorting machines.

29 May 2017

A day in the life of Colm O' Riordan
A day in the life of Colm O'Riordan

1. What is your role at TOMRA Sorting Food?

 Optoelectronic engineer – I am responsible for the design and development of the optics and sensors used for illumination and imaging in our sorting machines.

2. Why did you decide to work for TOMRA?

I have an academic background coupled with relevant industry experience. I have an undergraduate degree in electronic engineering, and moved into photonics and optics with my PhD. I was working and living in Cork with my girlfriend, but we moved to Dublin when she pursued a career in veterinary medicine. The position at TOMRA came up which fitted with my background and experience. At the interview I got a great feel for the company, its operations and its culture. I started in February 2016.

3. What does your average work day look like?

At the moment, I’m working on the design of a new illumination system to use in a new sorter being developed in Dublin. I’m also developing and evaluating new components and modules that will be more cost effective, easier to manufacture and enhance the performance of our sorters. In addition to the design aspects I’m also involved with sustaining engineering, which includes supporting our production facility in Slovakia with any questions they may have. Mentoring is also a key part of the role – we have interns in Dublin working between February and September and I’m supporting them in task management and workflow through regular liaison.

4. What's the best thing about your job?

From a technical aspect there are a variety of skills required to be successful in the role, so it’s nice to have a broad knowledge base. The machines I work with have optical, mechanical and electronic components so it means I’m constantly working on something different – I love the variety. My colleagues are also excellent to work with – it’s a great environment at TOMRA and everyone is supportive on a professional and personal level, which makes my job that bit easier.

5. What's the skill you'd most like to have?

I’d like to be better at golf and lower my handicap!

6. What are you passionate about – professionally or personally?

Professionally, I like to do my job well and try to achieve the best I can in a timely fashion – although that is sometimes a challenge! Personally, I really enjoy sport, including golf, cycling, running and skiing. As my girlfriend works in veterinary care, we’re big animal lovers. In Cork our house acted as a foster home for guide dogs in training at the nearby Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind training center. The dogs would stay with us during evenings and weekends so they didn’t have to sleep in the kennels. It was so rewarding, although hard to say goodbye!

7. What's your favorite holiday destination?

Austria, for skiing. There are some great resorts, but those with a good après ski are my favorites.

8. What would be your perfect day away from work?

As I live in south Dublin I have great access to the mountains, so a perfect day would involve getting up early (although not too early) and going for a cycle with friends, stopping for a coffee en route. I’d then have a relaxing evening with my girlfriend, perhaps watching a film.

9. What's your greatest business achievement?

I previously worked with a research institute and had a client from the US who was developing a new type of biomedical imaging sensor. I project managed the delivery of prototypes that helped them develop the business case with their investors. My involvement spanned both project and technical development, and was hugely satisfying to complete. I have been able to bring this experience to my role at TOMRA.

10. What's your greatest personal achievement?

I’m very proud of completing a PhD in photonics. It was challenging but has provided the foundation for my career.

11. What did you eat for lunch?

A tuna salad – I’m trying to be healthy before the long weekend!