In the early days of his career, Brendan O’Reilly got involved in electrical projects, wrote process programming, designed piping, oversaw civil and structural work, gave sales presentations, and undertook financial justifications for capital expenditures.
“I had no idea about what I might end up doing coming out of school, but I quickly learned that my combined engineering and business skills gave me a more rounded perspective that opened opportunities I wasn’t expecting,” says the 1982 Chemical Engineering & Management graduate.
“I liked the challenge and opportunity of continuous learning that every new assignment brought, and that really helped shape my focus and desire to lead bigger and bigger projects, as I am doing today.”
Today, O’Reilly is the Director of Corporate Engineering for Teknor Apex, a large privately owned multi-national plastics compounding company.
He leads a team of multi-disciplined engineers and designers who are responsible for executing the company’s capital projects around the world. Currently, he’s overseeing the building of a new greenfield European headquarters with production, warehouse, and office facilities in Germany, as well as expanding production at corporate locations in Singapore and South Carolina.
O’Reilly is currently based in Rhode Island, but throughout his career has lived and worked in Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico.
“One of my career highlights has not only been the work experience gained working in these places but also the cultural and interpersonal experiences of getting to work with different people,” he says.
And when it comes to learning, he says a seven-month-long labour disruption that threw him into the role of plant operator and maintenance technician made him a much better engineer afterward.
“Constantly learn,” he advises today’s students. “You never know when what you’ve learned in the past will come in handy.
“And don’t be afraid to take on assignments that seem tough or out of your area of expertise. Do them well by seeking input from anyone who can help. This will always open the door to more opportunity.”