Mairéad Hickey

Diploma in Food Supply Chain Operations, 2016

“From my experience, very few people want to do a bad day’s work, so having a good robust quality management system is priceless. If processes and training are in place, everyone is far happier across the board,’ 

said Mairéad Hickey from Swords, who recently completed the Springboard-funded Diploma in Food Supply Chain Operations course at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

“Quality Management is not all about rules and regulations, it’s about a culture of Continuous Improvement and an attitude that is centred around doing the right thing or, to put it another way, making it difficult for someone to do the wrong thing.”

Mairéad knows a thing or two about quality management, her whole professional career to date has been centred around it.  She qualified as a Telecommunications Technician with the Limerick Institute of Technology and holds a Certificate in Professional Management with the Open University. Before stepping back for several years to raise her now grown children, she was a senior test technician with Amdahl, followed by eight years as Quality Auditor and Quality Manager with two technology-based companies.

Mairéad returned to work three years ago in an administrative role with a local company but wanted to move back into quality control and needed to update her CV with a fresh qualification. She was interested in the food and pharmaceutical sectors and following some internet research discovered the Springboard course in DkIT

  “I love quality system management and I was looking for a part-time course that, combined with my current professional qualifications and experience to date, would open up opportunities to work in that area across a wide range of industries.”

The food and beverage sectors are one of the largest in Ireland from the viewpoint of both production and consumption. The course provides the opportunity to develop supply chain management skills, which have been identified as a major skills gap in this area.  Quality Management is one of the main modules. Mairead began the course in September 2016 and found it to be varied, with regular assignments and deadlines.

 “We had Christmas and Summer exams and I loved the challenge and the study. I felt very envigorated and sharp by the end of it.”

Mairéad is seeking a Quality Systems role in the food or pharmaceutical sectors and in the meantime, is working in warehouse administration with a national fresh food and vegetable supplier, a role that is a continuation of the student placement organised by DkIT. Although quality control is part of her job, Mairead would relish a return to a full-time role in this area.

Mairéad said, 

 “In my view, having a fresh qualification is essential, particularly when you are returning to work after a break.  The DkIT course has put me on the road to where I want to go in my career.  I would love if there was an option to continue and perhaps complete a degree part-time over a couple of years. I know that I am not finished studying yet as I love learning, taking on new subjects and new challenges.”

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