PM Group Pat Ryan: We operate on a no-blame and can-do culture

To the unknowing passer-by, yesterday might have presented a similar appearance to Munster Final day as crowds streamed into Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Rather than the spectacle of a hurling or football encounter, however, the legendary venue instead hosted the PM Group’s 40th celebration of business in Cork.

PM Group Pat Ryan: We operate on a no-blame and can-do culture

To the unknowing passer-by, the sight crowds of crowds streaming into Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Thursday evening might have seemed similar to Munster Final day. Rather than the spectacle of a hurling or football encounter, however, the legendary venue instead hosted the PM Group’s 40th celebration of business in Cork.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating 40 years in Cork and wanted all of our 850 current people, and as many of our retirees as possible, to be part of the celebration,” explained Pat Ryan of the sporting venue’s choice for the milestone gathering. “Bringing everybody and their partners together in Páirc Uí Chaoimh seemed very appropriate as it is very close to the location of our first office in Cork.”

During an evening of celebratory nostalgia where founders and long-serving employees shared their memories, the ascending graph of PM Group success down the decades set the template for the festivities. “There was a lot of hilarity identifying each other and seeing how young we all were once, and of course we also talked about our recent successes. There is as much interest in the company’s progress from our retirees as from our current people.”

With personnel numbers in Cork at 850, PM Group delivers significant benefit to the local economy, with two offices based in Mahon and in Carrigtwohill. Projects have included some of the largest industrial undertakings in the region for J&J Janssen, Pernod Ricard, MSD Brinny and Pfizer. The Cork office is a Pharma centre of excellence and accounts for 35% of the Group’s revenue.

“If I had to pick one area that has remained constant, I would say it is PM Group culture, something you can’t buy and which needs to be nurtured. From the outset our founders set out to create a great engineering company with a ‘no blame and can-do culture’.

“This has remained our ethos throughout the decades. It was combined with our focus on growing long-term relationships with our clients — rather than simply going after projects.” PM Group continue to work with many of the same clients from its early days, in an expansion that now covers over 30 countries worldwide. “The pharma and food sectors have seen significant investment in recent years and we work for companies including Genentech, GSK, MSD, Eli Lilly, J&J, Pfizer, Boston Scientific, PepsiCo and Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard. Across the PM Group organisation, we are expanding so there is great opportunity to grow a very interesting and varied career with exciting projects for world leading companies.” To meet the demand, the company are constantly in search of talented people across all disciplines — engineering, architecture, project management and construction. “Probably over 300 people across the group. We need both senior, experienced people and also take on a minimum of 30 graduates each year.”

PM Group continues to expand and recently reached 2,700 people in all of its locations across Europe, Asia and the USA through a combination of organic growth and acquisition. “Speed to market is critical for our clients and particularly in Pharma where they are always looking for ways to get drugs to patients quicker. The key for us is the design and construction of these complex projects, and we are constantly looking to innovate using technology and project delivery methods to complete these projects in ever shorter time frames.” The innovations currently in play include virtual reality, 4D, BIM, energy efficiency and food safety, as well as future development of 5D, standardisation and robotics. The company’s graduate programme remains an integral part of its success, taking on over 300 people in the past four years.

“We have worked with UCC and CIT for over 30 years. Many of our employees are alumni of both colleges from whom we continue to attract graduates. As a company, we view our relationship with our colleges as a partnership where we share our expertise and provide specialists to mentor and lecture on key subjects.”

Pat joined PM Group in 1992, having graduated from CIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked in various roles, including Project Engineer, Project Manager, Department Manager and Office Engineering Manager. His international experience includes Mechanical and Project Engineer on an Italian project for two years, added to by a five-year stint as the Operations Manager for the company’s Singapore business, where he grew the business from a headcount of 45 to 120.

“As a graduate of CIT, I have served on external examiner boards and continue to encourage our support of the engineering departments. More recently, we’ve begun working with CIT who have begun a STEM Southwest Cluster initiative to bring key industries together and attract more students to study STEM subjects.”

PM Group recently announced a €50,000 bursary to Nagle Community College, with which it will work over the coming years with equipment, lecturing, mentoring and work experience opportunities.

Looking toward 2020 and beyond, Pat Ryan is optimistic for the economic future of Cork and the general region.

“Cork is renowned for its pharma industry, which is by its nature cyclical. Over the years Cork has seen peaks and troughs, but we have a really attractive combination of a uniquely skilled workforce, access to universities and research and a continuing pipeline of talent. In addition, the IDA have been at the forefront of attracting investment and Cork continues to benefit from that focus. In the past number of years PM Group has seen significant investment in the pharma sector particularly, and we’re certainly very busy with a good pipeline of work in the future,” he adds.

Having originally joined the PM Group to exploit the opportunities for career progression and travel, being part of an organisation with ambitions to be an industry leader was a key aspect of that career decision: “Over the years, I never really saw myself moving as opportunities for progression in my discipline and into management always gave me the focus internally rather than having to move company.

Added to that, PM Group is employee owned and that translates into all the work we do. Being a shareholder which gives me a shared sense of ownership and responsibility, and I also have the benefit of working with a great team of people who all have the same commitment and drive.” As one of a number of employees who have been with PM Group throughout their careers, Pat credits the variety and challenges of the job as the motivation that keeps career enthusiasm constantly engaged.

“We are constantly meeting new people through our clients, partners and other stakeholders, which are enough to keep every day really interesting.”

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