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high-purity welding

The face behind Mercury’s high-purity welding programme

Author: Cormac Byrne  /  10th Feb, 2022  /  News, Careers

In a Mercury career spanning across three decades, Chris O’Leary has spent the best part of thirty years leading our dedicated high-purity welding and maintenance programme for our Advanced Technology Business Unit.

Based in our Off-site Assembly facility in Leixlip, Co Kildare, Chris recently spoke to us about the role he plays in heading Mercury’s welding training programme and says that developing Mercury’s next generation of welders is a ‘defining career milestone’ which he takes immense pride in.

Chris has passed on his comprehensive knowledge base of welding methodologies, technical innovations, welding training procedures and equipment maintenance to many of his trainees, with Mercury’s high-purity training programme highly regarded by our multinational clients.

You can read his full interview below.

When did you start your career and how did you start working for Mercury?

I started out with an apprenticeship in welding and metal fabrication back in 1979 with a small engineering firm. My aptitude for welding was noticed and it was an area I wanted to progress my career in. I spent several years working in the oil, gas, and pharmaceutical industries. I went to Australia for a year before returning to Ireland where I worked on a large, advanced technology project in Co. Kildare, Ireland. Through varied challenging roles I have developed a broad range of specialised skills and knowledge in welding practices and maintenance. In 1995 the contractor I was working with at the time finished on the project, I then got a call from Mercury asking me to come on board to help set up their high-purity welding division and I haven’t looked back since.”

Chris O’Leary, Lead Supervisor Maintenance & Welding.

What does your role involve?

“Since 2012 I have been responsible for training Mercury staff and sub-contractors in high purity training and orbital welding. With the assistance of our tool and plant department we recently setup a new a high purity training and bending area and a practical area for orbital, tig and manual arc welding. Our client has been blown away with the setup we have in Leixlip. There are few others in Ireland, and not many in Europe who have the knowledge or facilities to run a training school like this.”

“Some of our trades personnel who come in here have never done this type of welding application before. We invest up to six-weeks training, depending on the type of welding application required with them, and we have produced some of the best welders in Europe. It’s all about how you instruct people, we are helping people to upskill and train them with the most up to date technologies in the industry. We also have tradespeople coming here to train and work from eastern Europe and many of them have little English. It can take a little longer, but we know that we can train them to a high standard and can communicate what is expected from them. You build up a good relationship with these guys and appreciate their wiliness to learn, both to up skill their trade and their level of English.”

“The relationship you build with your trainees is vital. Also on my team is Ross Dunne who has been working with Mercury since the age of 16 and has recently come on board to help with the ever-growing training and maintenance programme. It is all about making opportunities for young men and women. Some of my previous trainees have gone off to the likes of America, Canada and Australia and have set up their own high purity workshop facilities.

They will often give me a shout over WhatsApp for a quick catch up and to let me know how they are getting on in their careers and occasionally ask my advice on how to solve a problem, I still love to hear from them and help them out in any way I can. It’s like a vocation for me.”

How has Mercury changed over the past 30 years?

“When I started off, Mercury was mostly an electrical company. Now it is an industry leader across Europe. It has grown exponentially over the past 30 years and when you think of what we have achieved, the projects we have worked on and the opportunities we are creating for young people, it’s incredible. Every change brings new dynamics to the company and we’ve some of the best people in the industry. My advice to other colleagues in the industry is that if you want top training and opportunities, come to Mercury.”

Ross Dunne, Foreman Maintenance & Welding Department, pictured at Mercury’s high-purity welding training centre.

Anything else?

“My two sons Daniel and Simon both work for Mercury. Daniel is a material controller based in Dublin/Kildare, while Simon is a permit controller/co-ordinator in Milan. I am so proud of them both and it is great to see them making opportunities for themselves within the company. Simon and Daniel always say we have to keep up the O’Leary name, but I always tell them they’re doing a better job than me!”

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