In this month's 'Meet the IES Team' we caught up with Lorenzo De Donatis, ICL Manager, who works in our Dublin office to hear all about his experiences with IES to date.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and when you first came to join IES.
I joined IES at the very beginning of 2019, relocating to Ireland from Japan where I had conducted the thesis of my MSc in Building Engineering (a program between Politecnico di Milano and the University of Tokyo) followed by a period of research at Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science. With my research being focused on the application of algorithmic optimizations to the energy modelling field, I was more than familiar with the IES Virtual Environment, hence it felt almost a natural (and very motivating!) path for me to apply and join IES once my academic career was reaching an end. Also, given how far I ended up for my studies (I am originally from Italy), Ireland feels much closer to home!
2. What is your current role at IES?
I am currently working as ICL Manager (having held the position of Senior Research Consultant prior to this), where I have the opportunity to work on and supervise a number of R&D projects. My goal is also helping to ensure that the ICL (our suite of digital twin products) maintains its cutting-edge technology status to help businesses across the globe meet their decarbonisation plans in the most innovative and efficient way possible.
3. Were you involved in any of our Internship, Graduate Apprenticeship, or other recruitment programmes? If so, can you tell us a bit more about your experience?
Not personally, but I am glad to currently have the opportunity of co-leading the graduate programme at IES. The programme’s structure was solidified in 2021 and it is showing to be very impactful both for the company and for the graduates themselves. Being part of it is a huge learning opportunity, not only for the graduates, but also for us mentors, managers, HR personnel and for the company as a whole.
4. What does a typical working day involve for you?
I actually feel lucky to be unable to find one single answer to this question. Given that I am exposed to a number of different projects (R&D, ICL, Consultancy, etc.) and other tasks (project management, client/internal training, product feedback and implementation, etc.) my day to day activities can vary incredibly. On average, I would say I currently spend between one third to half of my days in meetings with either clients, project partners or colleagues, and the rest of my time is spent doing project work, management activities and collaborating on implementation plans for our technologies. Occasionally, I carry out site visits across Ireland or Europe to gather information for modelling purposes or to participate in conferences. I do try to read as much as possible to keep up to date with the latest industry standards and innovations too.
5. Are there any particularly interesting projects you have worked on that you could tell us about?
Too many to fit here!
Since there are too many choices I could go for, I’ll pick an obvious one, which is +CityxChange (an EU Horizon 2020 funded research project), for the main reason that it has accompanied me throughout my whole journey at IES, from day one until today. This project is one of the main reasons I originally started working at IES and today it is still ongoing (which might sound boring, but it actually isn’t!). It is a smart-cities project focused on the delivery of climate-friendly and sustainable urban environments, which has challenged me to push my knowledge boundaries across different fields. This project has shaped both my early career and our ICL digital twin tools, and I can see the impact that my work has had in the development and improvement of the software. Now, seeing both internal users and external customers using features within the tools that were born from my (and my colleagues’) ideas is something that makes me particularly proud. It also gave me an opportunity to understand how the R&D world works, which is crucial in my current role since Research and Innovation are fundamental to ensuring novelty and quality in commercial products.
6. What is the best thing about working for IES?
The people and the trust. I have rarely seen people and colleagues so open to help and trust others as much as I have at IES. There is always someone there to share similar ambitions and, why not, struggles at times – which makes everything nicer.
7. What important skills have you learned whilst working here?
Technically, I have learned a lot, but the most valuable aspects I have learned (and still am learning!) are soft ones, including communication, management and leadership skills. While a number of courses - both internally or externally organized - have helped me in this, the main learnings came from the experience of more senior staff and my line manager, which I feel are invaluable. I don’t think any specific course or degree would have been able to teach me these lessons in a similar way.
8. What advice would you give others considering a position with us?
Technical knowledge related to the field/team to which you are applying to is surely fundamental, but as important as that is the aptitude and your motivation for joining IES, so make sure to show that in your application and interview! There’s always a place at IES for the right people, so don’t wait for the perfect position to be open, just go for it if you feel you can bring something to the company (I hope the HR team won’t hate me after this!)
9. Did you relocate for your role at IES? If so, where have you relocated from and what is your favourite thing about where you work.
Yes! Technically, I relocated from Japan as I was living there up until moving here to Dublin, but I’m originally from a seaside town in the centre of Italy. Being an incurable optimist, I am good enough at keeping my thoughts away from missing the Italian food and climate – so I focus more on the amazing landscapes and people that Ireland has to offer. Plus, Dublin itself is incredibly multicultural which is something I always find interesting. Living here for the past 3.5 years has been absolutely comfortable and inspiring.