Hiring Chief Operations Officer

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Applications are invited for the following position:

Faculty of Science + Engineering

 School of Engineering

 Confirm – Smart Manufacturing Research Centre

 Chief Operations Officer – Specific Purpose Contract

Salary Scale: €92,336 – €122,537 p.a. pro rata

Further information for applicants and application material is available online from: http://www.ul.ie/hrvacancies/

For more information download the PDF –  Information Pack


Informal enquiries regarding the post may be directed to:

Prof Conor McCarthy


Confirm Centre

University of Limerick

Email: [email protected]


The closing date for receipt of applications is Thursday 3rd December, 2020.

Applications must be completed online before 12 noon, Irish Standard Time on the closing date.

Please confirm that you are currently eligible to work in Ireland. Applications by candidates who are not eligible to work in Ireland will not be processed.

Please note your application must include:

A letter of introduction indicating how you meet the criteria outlined in the job description.

A completed online application form (separate application forms must be submitted for each post applied for).

Please email [email protected] if you experience any difficulties



 The Confirm Centre is a SFI/Industry funded research centre hosted by the University of Limerick with partner institutions Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, NUI Galway, Maynooth University, Athlone IT, Limerick IT and Tralee IT. The Centre is funded by Science Foundation Ireland with co-funding from industry. It brings together industry partners from across Ireland’s manufacturing sectors, as well as major international manufacturing centres of excellence, to undertake a €47 million programme of work focused on the development of smart manufacturing for applications across Ireland’s leading industrial sectors. Confirm’s ambition is to become a world leader in smart manufacturing research and to enable Irish industry to fundamentally transform to a smart manufacturing ecosystem, delivering visible and measurable economic and societal impact to Ireland. The successful candidate will work with a world-class team of academics, researchers and industry partners in a highly innovative and motivated environment. Please visit www.confirm.ie for more information.

The Chief Operations Officer (COO) will play a significant leadership role in the Centre, and will be responsible for operational management and strategic engagement with key stakeholders to deliver on the Centre’s metrics, while ensuring continued support for the Centre nationally and internationally. The COO will manage the Centre operations team, and will be responsible for all day-to-day operational management of the Centre including business development; progress monitoring; liaison with academic and industrial partners; financial management; management of issues/risks; management of the governance processes, and compliance with reporting requirements. The role will involve substantial interaction with industry, academia, government agencies, and other national and international manufacturing centres. The COO will be responsible for the effective and efficient interface between academia and industry to ensure the Centre achieves its strategic vision and delivers on its KPIs, which include significant revenue generation from non-exchequer sources and commercialisation activities. The position is hosted at the new Confirm headquarters at the University of Limerick’s Digital District. Travel to all partner academic institutions and industry partners will be essential to maintain our strong centre effect and community of practice.



 The COO will be an experienced professional, with a technical qualification, significant experience in the leadership of R&D teams, preferably in the manufacturing arena; experience in senior management of large-scale research programmes; and experience working in/with a large university-based research centre would be a key advantage. The candidate will need to have demonstrated excellent leadership in the senior management of large-scale R&D research programmes in academia and/or in the manufacturing industry, and be able to inspire, innovate and influence across a range of organisations, aligning multidisciplinary interests behind challenging goals. Excellent communication and writing skills must accompany profound and highly adept leadership strengths, the ability to build relationships, and influencing at the highest level in academia, industry and government is essential. The COO’s performance is directly linked to the success and sustainability of the Centre, and so a highly motivated and self-starting individual would be best suited to this role.



Reporting to the Centre Director, the COO will provide the overall management of the Centre operations to ensure the Centre’s KPIs are achieved. Specific responsibilities will include:

Strategy & Leadership:

  • Work with Centre Director and PI’s to develop, communicate and implement a coherent Centre strategy.
  • Be responsible for the delivery of all operational strategies to ensure Confirm’s success, including management of the Centre budget, reporting, programme management, governance, commercialisation, research infrastructure, communications, education and public engagement.
  • Development of the Centre business plan to ensure Centre growth and sustainability.
  • Facilitate all governance meetings, inc. Executive, Industry & Scientific Advisory and Governance committees, and Commercialisation and Education & Public Engagement sub-committees.

Operations Management:

  • Direct line management and development of the operations management team (generally up to 8 reports) covering business development, research programme management, research funding, education & training, communications & outreach, reporting & compliance and administration.
  • Maintain budgetary oversight of consolidated Centre budget and financial progress.
  • Oversee and manage the new Confirm Centre headquarters, including liaising with UL Buildings on all building facilities, health and safety, and facility access agreements to generate revenue though our research infrastructure and related community of practice portfolio.
  • Be responsible for the delivery of all reporting requirements to SFI.
  • Coordinate with academic partner institutions on the negotiation of agreements with industrial partners.


  • A key relationship manager for the Centre ensuring robust engagement with all external partners and stakeholders, including national and international academic and research institutions, industry, government, agencies, and the general public.
  • A primary SFI contact for the Centre and represent the Centre on formal university boards as required.
  • Represent and promote the Centre nationally and internationally to raise our profile. A key target for this role is the effective management of the relationship with existing and new industry partners (multinational and SME).


  • Other duties as required by the Centre Director and/or the Centre Governance Committee.

Essential Criteria

  • Degree (Level 8 NFQ or equivalent) in science/engineering or related subject.
  • Proven senior management experience (at least 5 years) of R&D teams in an academic or industrial environment.
  • At least 10 years’ work experience in the manufacturing sector, or an equivalent sector where an understanding of the manufacturing sector can be demonstrated.
  • Experience of working with academic researchers and their teams.

 Desirable Criteria

  • Proven track record of programme management of complex large-scale projects with high levels of innovation and/or R&D, preferably with multi-site elements.
  • Relevant technical background.
  • Post graduate qualification.
  • Experience of external partner engagement.
  • Knowledge of key external stakeholder organisations (e.g. Science Foundation Ireland, Industry Development Agency, Enterprise Ireland, and/or EU).
  • Experience of working directly with manufacturing researchers and with the commercialisation of their manufacturing-related IP.
  • Experience in the development and management of entrepreneurial training programmes.
  • Experience of the processes around the successful generation of new start-up companies.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral) with demonstrable evidence of successful leadership of disparate teams.



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