David Collins

David Collins

Engineering Manager at CoolPlanet

Tell us a bit about yourself ?

I grew up in County Sligo, went to university in Limerick but I live in Dublin with my wife and two sons and have been here for close to 18 years. When I finished secondary school back “home”, I went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Limerick. I went straight from university into an energy management role which was definitely considered a “new” field of engineering in Ireland at the time. I started working with an engineering consultancy on a project in Dublin and through that role and a few training courses, I learned the basics of energy management. I did study energy management in university and I had always found it to be interesting. So for the first 10 years of my career I worked in energy consultancy, developing and delivering energy projects and for the past 8 years I’ve transitioned into managing individuals and teams doing the same. I've been working with CoolPlanet for almost four years now.

I've always occupied that area between consulting and gradually transitioning into projects and then managing teams and individuals. I've been working for CoolPlanet for almost 4 years now.

Where did you work prior to joining CoolPlanet?

After graduating from university , I spent three years working for a company called White Young Green which was the consultancy involved in a 3rd level education energy program with the four major universities in Dublin i.e UCD, DIT, Trinity and DCU. My role consisted of writing regular energy performance reports and conducting site visits in 30+ buildings across the campuses.

I then moved to a company called Dalkia, who were part of the wider Veolia group to gain more practical and larger-scale project development and delivery experience. I spent seven years there where I got to work on some really interesting and exciting energy projects in the healthcare, industrial and commercial sectors.

I moved onto Aramark in 2014 as their Head of Energy Services for Northern Europe. I stepped into a management role for a team of 15 or so individuals; it was a steep learning curve but I really enjoyed it as I had complete responsibility for the department in terms of hiring, workloads, sales and financial performance.

Four years later, I decided I was ready for another challenge, but in a company focussed on energy services, and that’s what led me to CoolPlanet.

What does your job entail?

My role is Engineering Manager at CoolPlanet so I oversee the Engineering and Data Analysis (“EDA”) Team which consists of engineers who work on energy audits and developing projects right through to project delivery on our client sites. Currently we have a team of 14 full-time staff supported by part-time consultants. We have engineers located all over the world in Ireland, UK, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Spain and the United States. My main responsibility would be coordinating the resources across our various projects through the sales lifecycle and ensuring project deliverables are issued on time and to the highest standards.

What does a normal day to day look like for you?

The day to day offers a lot of variation. At any given moment, we could have 30 to 40 active projects at various levels of development, ranging from early assessments with the Sales team to more established energy projects being delivered on site and working alongside our Operations team. A typical week would also consist of daily meetings on specific projects, 121 meetings with staff, management meetings, preparing sales proposals, checking and reviewing engineering documents, client calls and various administrative tasks. Where possible I’ll join a site visit on certain projects.

What do you enjoy most about working for CoolPlanet?

Everyone at CoolPlanet is focused on decarbonisation solutions; we have many different service strands within that field, but they all serve the same general purpose for our clients. When everyone is motivated with the same goals, the workplace is much more enjoyable and energised in a similar manner. The company has a real positive attitude and solid work culture. Everyone works hard but we always have time for some fun along the way! There are always plenty of projects going on, as I previously mentioned, you never have to worry about getting bored or lacking things to do. There's always something new with deadlines to meet for the next client.

What keeps you motivated?

We all take great pride when we complete good audit reports and receive positive feedback from clients. From my viewpoint, I think what happens after that is the most motivational part for me. So when you see a project progress for what take 6 to 9 months from concepts in an energy audit, through engineering and finally to a project agreement signed to deliver solutions, that serves as motivation to ensure that we go again for the next one!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’d be lying if I said I always wanted to be an engineer. I was told various things from career guidance teachers including of course engineering but also was told to consider computer science, architecture and at one stage even psychology! I loved technical drawing so I could see the link to Architecture which I seriously considered, and I was good at maths and science in school, so in the end it might have been inevitable that I would end up in engineering…but ending up working in energy services definitely wasn’t on my agenda 20+ years ago.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have two young sons (6 & 9) who keep us busy every evening and at the weekends between various sports they play. I am involved in our local GAA club in Dublin, Whitehall Colmcille, and coach my older son’s team at under 9 level so I’ve found that’s a great way to integrate with the local community. You have to switch off in the early weekday evenings to do those taxi runs so it’s a natural time each day to close the laptop….even if you have to reopen it again later that night. Personally I try to keep as fit as I can. I’ve ran a couple of marathons in the past and I’m set to run my third one this October. I’ve also recently got back into playing a bit of hurling with let’s just say a more experienced group of hurlers in Whitehall!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d probably say to travel more; I never really did it on an extended basis outside of holidays over the years. I know a lot of people do it, but I have worked through since leaving college so I think in hindsight some downtime earlier in my career would have been good. I’d also probably advise to not rush your career selection, take your time to settle on what you find a passion for and don’t be afraid to make a change early (or late) on if something doesn’t work out. We’re slaves to screens these days so there has to be benefits to a career that doesn’t involved 40-50 hours in front of a laptop each week!

What are three interesting things about you?

I used to play piano and reached a respectable grade 4 when I was younger; I’ve tried recently to get back into playing music but struggle to find the time to dedicate to it.

I enjoy playing computer games when the kids aren’t hogging them; a big FIFA football fan over the years.

I love watching American football; I’ve been to a couple of NFL games in the States and London, going to a Superbowl would be on the bucket list. I’m a long-suffering New York Jets fan but they are currently having their best season for over 10 years so fingers crossed they make the play-offs this year!