Linda Higgins, Manufacturing Engineer, Johnson & Johnson

My name is Linda Higgins. I’m a manufacturing engineer for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Ireland. Vision Care is a 24/7 manufacturing plant, so every morning we get an update from operations on how the lines ran through that night. So our role would be to support operations and any problem solving that they need that day. Along with that then we’d run projects to improve safety, to increase the quality of the product reliability and to optimise the run ability of the machines as well. I studied product design and technology for four years at the University of Limerick. During that time I had an eight-month placement in the pre orthopaedics in Cork – they’re also a Johnson & Johnson company. I really enjoyed working for them. I loved their environment. They were very customer focused and when I graduated that’s the role that I wanted to go into. So I was living in Limerick at the time when I was offered a position in Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, so I took part in the graduate program. I was then offered a full-time manufacturing engineer role. The skills that I think are really useful would be communication and teamwork. Communication just simply because whether you’re emailing someone, you’re verbally describing, so in my case, I might have an idea – sometimes if that idea is more complicated I may want to put together a presentation, have images, videos to actually show them that rather than verbally explain the idea to them. So communication would be very important and what methods you use to communicate to people. The second one would be teamwork, so teamwork would be very important day-to-day. I’m dealing with process engineers, quality, operations, the process technicians on the floor and it’s important that you work together as a team and, I suppose, maximise everyone’s skills and abilities so that you can get a very good solution at the end. Ask as many questions as possible. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. When you go into a new work environment you often feel completely overwhelmed – you’re dealing with professionals that have been working in their area for 10 years. You’re looking at new technologies. And I think there is usually an awful fear that you put your hand up and you ask something stupid that maybe you should know the answer to and that’s often not the case. Definitely ask as many questions as you can. Especially where I came from… I spent a year as a graduate, Johnson & Johnson have a program where you’re given a buddy, So I had someone with only maybe a year or two of experience – So I had that person to go to where there was no such thing as a stupid question and for that year I had the excuse to ask any questions I wanted and learn as much as I could. I’d never really had any intention to go into engineering. I was always very design-focused and having worked in engineering with Johnson & Johnson. I really liked the idea that I was helping people by problem solving and I suppose, being innovative in smaller ways rather than coming up with new designs. Having worked in both to Depuy and Vision Care for Johnson & Johnson, the one thing that Johnson & Johnson really enforces in the workplace is the customer and how everything we do, every decision we make, affects the customer so when we implement a project that reduces the cost of the lens, that improves the quality of the lens, you know that goes back to the customer, so I suppose, I always feel very motivated and there’s a huge sense of achievement at the end of the day when I do complete a project.

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