In this #PeopleFirst we catch up with Kirby’s Operations Manager for Munster. He celebrates 33 years with us this year and talks about the growth of the company from 60 direct employees in 1990 to 1,400 in 2023. He is proud of his part in the tale, at the front of many firsts, including the delivery of one of Kirby’s first projects outside of Ireland in 2015.
“My payroll number is 003. That shows just how long I have been here,” he jokes.
In April 1990 William left school after his intermediate certificate. He had been offered an electrical apprenticeship, by founders Tom and Michael Kirby, and started on site the very next week.
“My first job was on a high-tech manufacturing plant in Kildare.
“I went back there in 2011 as a project manager, and the first building I had handed over was still in operation. We continue to deliver work on that project, with many apprentices learning their trade. It’s work like this that is a testament to Kirby, our consistency and our commitment to developing people and bringing on the next generation of engineering talent,” he adds.
William has since gained a diploma in Project Management from the University of Limerick and another in International Business Development from the Irish Management Institute. Like many others, he has grown his career at the company and now plays a hand in the development and nurturing of our young talent, alongside the extensive learning programmes offered through in-house training, as well as courses through universities, colleges and management institutes across Europe.
A career highlight for William was working with our Strategy and Marketing Associate Director Giedre Visockaite to identify opportunities and grow Kirby’s business in mainland Europe.
“We had just delivered a project in Paris – our first outside Ireland – and we saw an opportunity to build our business. We spent a year visiting different countries, meeting with employment and tax law specialists, and trade unions. We won our second contract on the mainland for Neste Oil in Helsinki, Finland, in 2015. I led the delivery team as the project manager.
“Strategy forms an integral part of our business. At that point in time, we could have committed to deliver a number of schemes, but we wanted to ensure we had the capacity and local capability, with well-researched supply chains and subcontractors. This in-depth knowledge and understanding in the preconstruction period offers great assurance to our clients, and helps us build long-term partnerships with household names, as well as with the government departments and trade unions within those countries.
“It’s a whole team effort and we live by that legacy mindset. We are a family business that has grown by having a reputation for delivery excellence. We will never compromise on our values. And our clients trust that,” he concludes.
William was keen to highlight the importance of the Kirby Way. This training suite, and core standard operating procedures and reporting mechanisms, ensure that wherever we work in the world, our clients will have the same consistent experience. It also means that William, in his role as Operations Manager, can quickly access every detail of a project, provide support and report back to our clients in real time.
“The Kirby Way has also supported our growth, especially in recent times, and through that steady evolution we have been able to maintain and enhance our culture. This organic growth has been measured, resourced, and as a consequence our people work as one. As one team, with a common shared goal, with employees able to travel and work across our business units. We maintain our family values, with People as our core value,” he adds.
William was keen to highlight Kirby’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, something that was recognised with a Bronze Award from the Irish Centre for Diversity.
“People from across the globe are coming together to work on our projects every day, it’s something we are incredibly proud of. Diversity of thought and experience will ensure that Kirby continues to grow and flourish, and with the help of our systems and processes we can evolve together, taking the best ideas from our people, testing them and then rolling them out across all of our sites. It’s this thoughtful and strategic mindset that has taken us from 60 employees to 1,400 and will ensure that we maintain Kirby’s reputation for the years to come.”