About CSci

  • Colm Munnelly
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Colm Munnelly
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
First Degree: 
Mechanical Engineering
Packaging Technologist
Works For: 
Repak Limited
BAI (Mech Eng.), MInstPkg (Dip), MSc (Pack. Tech.) CSci, CEnv
Pet Hates: 
Bugs and bears
I was always more interested in Batman who doesn’t have superpowers, so I suppose I would like a better ability to improvise for whatever situation you end up in
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I don’t think I ever wanted to grow up, and my wife, Deirdre, says I still haven’t
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
A scientist friend of mine who recently joined the Institute of Engineers
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Making a difference. Using the expertise I have to help other people improve their systems
What would you change? 
I would like to have learned to type when I was younger. In this keyboard age, I think everybody should know how to type
What qualifications did you take at school? 
Science and technical subjects in preparation for an engineering degree
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
Mechanical engineering degree. I like to build things and look back at completed projects, i.e. “I did that”
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
MSc in Packaging Technology. Having spent a number of years working with packaging, this qualification matched the work I was doing. It also made it easier for me to gain the CSci status. As a working technologist, I feel that I fit between the disciplines of both science and engineering
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I help people to improve their packaging systems
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
The waste management industry as it is today did not exist twenty years ago. We have gone from dumping to recycling and are now looking at the best ways of managing our resources before they become waste. What we as scientists or technologists can do is help people to understand what can be achieved with particular types of products or materials. We are now seeing changes and developments with different types of packaging and materials on a daily basis
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
There are very few simple solutions anymore and we try to help people to make the best choices available to them with regard to packaging and materials. We are successful when we help people to make these choices having considered the implications (both positive and negative) of the various choices that are available to them
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Seeing suggestions we have made to companies implemented, having a positive effect on the environment and saving people money
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
With a few twists and turns. From a mechanical engineering degree to specializing in quality systems and now specializing in packaging systems for the last ten years
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Because decision making for packaging takes place across the whole supply chain, packaging technologists have to deal with all participants within the supply chain. They also have to deal with many of the functions within any particular company
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
The job is compensated fairly well based on ability and experience. The starting salary could be anything from €20,000 and rising depending on how well the job fits with the aims of the organization
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
This field is changing all the time as the waste management industry adapts to the current sustainability agenda. People with an in-depth knowledge of packaging will be in demand as they can fit the best solutions to the issues that are arising such as carbon footprint, global warming, etc
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
How well we have to sell packaging. I worked in an industrial setting for 10 years where good packaging was an essential part of the manufacturing process. I now find myself talking at forums and meetings and showing people how useful and sustainable packaging can be if you understand what it is trying to do
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Three come to mind. 1) A Packaging Optimisation project I put in place that streamlined all of the packaging on a major product line. 2) Being part of the team that developed the IS 393 Energy management standard in Ireland that has gone on to form the basis for EN 16001, the European version of the standard. 3) Moving to my current job as a Packaging technology advisor having completed an MSc and using my skills to help other companies
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Yes, I became much more aware of this when my son, Ronan was born four years ago. He goes to bed about eight o’ clock, so it is nice to be able to see him on most evenings before he goes to bed
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
It has gone from “something to do with quality” to “something to do with packaging” to “something to do with waste management”. Having said that, I see more of my friends moving into areas such as waste management and sustainable energy
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
I play 5-a-side soccer and go scuba diving to keep the bloodflow going as the rest of my interests are more sedentary. I like reading about the polar explorers, listen to a wide range of music and go to the cinema as often as I can
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
-          I applied for the CSci as it came up as an opportunity for people transferring from the Institute of Packaging to the IOM3. I suppose I value the fact that it immediately gives an idea of the experience and academic background I have when working with people who haven’t met me before.
What is the value of professional bodies? 
In areas such as packaging, roles can become quite specialized so being a member of a professional body is an excellent way of sharing knowledge and experience between professionals
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
CPD is important in that it helps you to keep up to date with your knowledge and skills. The revalidation process gives targets and goals by specifying the amount of training that is required during the evaluation period.
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Think inside the box
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
I am not aware of a formal process, but I do take advice from other packaging professionals. Being a member of the Irish Packaging Society has been very helpful in this regard
How would you define “professionalism”? 
As well as a competency in the knowledge and skills required for your own business, professionalism is also about understanding the businesses of your suppliers and customers/clients so that you can perform and deliver to the best of your abilities
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
Participate more in organizations and groups that could help with your career. This could be professional bodies, student organizations, even study groups that get people with common interests working together and getting to know one another
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
That we live in times of great change, both in terms of technology and the environment, and that I helped to deliver solutions that advanced one without harming the other
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