Construction management graduate and experienced professional William Power says his return to WIT to study Lean Practice part-time was life-changing
William Power, a former School of Engineering undergraduate student from 1989-1991, graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology for a second time in 2017. Following a 25-year career in construction he decided to return to education and complete the WIT Department of Graduate Business Master of Business in Lean Practice (now known as the Master of Business in Lean Enterprise Excellence) to develop his management skills and explore a new approach to the delivery of construction projects. His knowledge has resulted in a career move and he is now a Productivity & Performance Manager.
William’s commitment to his studies is evident as he travelled from Killarney, Co Kerry for Monday evening classes (6pm-10pm), and alternate Saturday (9am-5pm) classes, a 400km round trip each time.
When and where was your first job after graduating?
In 1991 with Bowen Construction in Cork and Dublin.
Where are you currently working? What position do you currently hold?
DPS Engineering in Cork.Productivity & Performance Manager.
What do you hope to hope to achieve in the future?
To expand and advance the existing Lean construction competency within DPS Engineering Cork, whilst continuing my own personal development and knowledge by engaging in ongoing research in Lean construction.
What advice would you give to students considering your course?
Sit down with the Programme Directors and ensure that the course fulfils your expectations. Ensure that all aspects of the course content and any concerns are discussed openly.
Why did you choose your course/ to study at WIT/ study in Waterford?
I chose to study this Masters at WIT because it is recognised by industry as a national leader in its executive and practitioner education programmes on Lean and Operational Excellence.
How have your studies at WIT helped you to get where you are today?
I attended WIT from 1989 to 1991, departing with a Degree in Construction Management, and immediately found employment in an expanding Irish construction sector. In 2015, and still employed in the construction sector, I decided to develop my management skills as a frustration with the nature of construction delivery had prompted a consideration of whether the remainder of my working career was going to continue with the same challenges and issues or if there was a better way to approach the delivery of construction projects. I was also conscious of the next phase of my career and the need to position myself to be able to maximise my 25 years of construction experience. To achieve this goal, I decided that new skills and knowledge would be required.
My enrolment on the Master of Business in Lean Practice programme has been ‘life changing’. On entering the programme I was fearful of the workload and how new challenges like researching articles and writing academic essays could be approached. My concerns were soon eased by the infectious work ethic of the engaged lecturers in WIT and by the great friendships that developed with like-minded enthusiastic classmates on the programme. A workmanlike approach developed towards the workload and confidence in one’s own ability increased. Skills like preparing and delivering presentations, academic research and writing, as well as participating in practical improvement projects that were carried out in live working environments greatly enhanced and broadened one’s knowledge. A striking feature of the programme relates to the extensive contact with, and learning garnered from, my fellow classmates as the wide diversity of skills from different sectors ensured many conventions were challenged and debated, resulting in different approaches to problem solving and management solutions.
Relevance of education
The first year laid and embedded the foundations of Lean principles and thinking, and prepared the way for what appeared to be a daunting challenge ahead, namely the selection of a research topic and the preparation of the research proposal. One of my major learnings from the research has been the realisation of the relevance of education to every day work. I now realise how critical the academic sector is to the country’s progress and development, as the most up to date knowledge must be imparted to industry and to the student population to give them every opportunity to compete on the global scene, as well as continuing to make Ireland an attractive place for FDI. I understand how continuous research, examination, and challenging conventional ways of thinking and practice are critical to ensure that we don’t stand still for one moment in our learning and knowledge development.
From a professional viewpoint, I was grateful to get the opportunity to speak face to face with leaders in Lean construction in Ireland. Their passion and enthusiasm on the subject bodes well for the future of Lean being applied in construction. I believe the real value in construction will be derived from a mind-set and cultural change, and from managers understanding and pursuing never-ending improvement.