Michelle joined the civil service in 2003 working in a division that coordinated economic reporting from Irish Embassies around the world. That work sparked her interest in economics, and she went back to college to study an economics degree part-time with support from the Department. She currently manages the Project Management Office in the Department of Foreign Affairs, where she and her team provide advice and support on managing projects in the Department.
Tell us a little about your career path from Executive Officer to your current role?
I joined the Civil Service as a Clerical Officer in 2003. When I started, I worked in a division that coordinated economic reporting from our Embassies around the world. That work sparked my interest in economics, and I went back to college to study an economics degree part-time.
I also worked in the Department’s Protocol Division and had the opportunity to travel abroad, working on logistics for visits abroad by the President. That work was exciting and fast-paced. I was promoted to Executive Officer during this time and moved to a processing and service delivery area which was also really interesting. In the Protocol Division, I had the opportunity to work as an office manager, to work on large events like the visit of President Obama to Ireland in 2011, and I learned a lot about management and leadership.
In 2013, I moved to the strategy area of the Department where I had the opportunity to work on the creation of our Department’s Statement of Strategy and to travel to our different Embassies around the world undertaking reviews. I had the chance to meet some of the amazing people working in our Embassies and I had the opportunity to learn about lots of different cultures. I was promoted to Administrative Officer during this time and then to Assistant Principal. I currently work in the area of Project Management, and my team and I, provide Project Management advice and support to projects in the Department.
What opportunities did the Executive Officer role provide you with?
The Department supported me in going back to college to do my degree in economics and history and later to complete a postgraduate diploma and a masters. The opportunity for continuing education was important to me and a really good benefit of the Civil Service. My studies supported the work I was doing in areas such as economic reporting, administration, change management and project management.
I have had the opportunity to travel and to meet and work with some really amazing people throughout my career. I am currently working with two amazing teams of people organising the expansion of Ireland’s diplomatic network and promoting project management in the Department.
The opportunity to work in a variety of roles, and to continue learning and developing on the job and through professional development is something really special about the civil service.
Can you tell us about a highlight from your career in the Civil Service?
I have had lots of amazing opportunities during my career. From continuing my studies to having the opportunity to travel and see lots of new and interesting cultures and countries. The thing I am most proud of are the people that I have had the opportunity to work with over the years. There are some truly inspirational people working with the public service and there is something really special about knowing that your work is contributing to good of our society overall.
Why did you choose a career in the public sector?
My mother applied for me to join the Civil Service and I will always be grateful to her for that decision. I chose to stay in the Civil Service because of the opportunities it has provided for me to continue to learn and develop; to meet some amazing and inspirational people; and to work in areas where you feel your work is really making a difference.
What advice would you give someone thinking of applying for the Executive Officer role?
There are so many diverse roles that you can work in as an Executive Officer and so many opportunities to grow and learn. Embrace the opportunities that come your way. Keep the civil service values as a core part of your work no matter what area you work in, and always work to make a difference no matter how big or small it might seem at the time.