Breaking barriers: first female Vice President for ECA Ireland

IEM: Can you give us a brief overview of your career within the electrical sector?

JC: I’ve been with Mercury since 2007, which has allowed me to delve into the electrical field. At Mercury, as HR Director, I oversee a range of roles, including apprenticeships and graduate programmes. Additionally, I’m involved in committees within the CIF, focusing on workforce planning, training and education.

IEM: As the first female Vice President of the ECA, what does this achievement mean to you?

JC: It’s an incredible honour to hold the position of Vice President and witness the industry moving towards greater diversity. Having attended many meetings where I was the only female, this opportunity is particularly significant. I hope my appointment inspires more women to step up and participate in the industry.

IEM: What skills and perspectives do you bring from your role in HR to the Vice President position?

JC: People management is my area of expertise, and I intend to utilise it to help the ECA attract more talent to the industry. As we look to the future, building a skilled workforce is crucial, and my background in HR allows me to approach this challenge strategically.

IEM: What are your responsibilities as Vice President?

JC: Primarily, my role is to support the President and share relevant information. It’s also an excellent opportunity for networking and gaining insights from others in the electrical and other construction industries. Mutual learning is a key aspect of the position.

IEM: What are your main goals for your tenure as Vice President?

JC: A significant focus is promoting diversity and encouraging more women to explore opportunities within the industry. I also aim to raise awareness among students, particularly those in Leaving Cert years, about the potential of a career in our field. Additionally, I’m excited to learn from fellow committee members during my tenure.

IEM: What are the main challenges currently faced by ECA members?

JC: The foremost challenge is the shortage of skilled professionals. As projects continue to grow, finding the right people to handle the expanding pipeline of work becomes increasingly difficult. Other challenges include material delays, rising costs, logistical issues and the overall cost of living. It’s crucial for businesses to strike a balance and maintain competitiveness as a company.

IEM: What are the biggest opportunities for the industry?

JC: The Build for the Future initiative presents numerous projects and technological advancements and digital transformation of the industry offers increased efficiency. As well as that, the electrical qualifications attained in Ireland have global recognition, providing opportunities for travel and work abroad.

IEM: What’s next for the ECA? Is there anything in the pipeline that you’re particularly excited about?

JC: The upcoming Worldskills Ireland event in the RDS this September is a major highlight. Last year’s event was a great success, and this year it will be held alongside The Irish Times Higher Options, offering students, parents, and teachers the chance to engage with companies and witness apprentices showcasing their skills. It will create the largest ever concentration of career and study information for school leavers.

The ECA will continue to promote the electrical sector within the construction industry, emphasising safety and career opportunities.