Jonathan McKidd, head of digital operations and robotics at Bank of Ireland
Jonathan Kidd, head of digital operations and robotics at Bank of Ireland. Image: Connor McKenna

Want to work at a robotic process automation lab?

14 May 2018

Many people are focused on what jobs automation could take away, but they should be looking at the exciting new jobs that will be created.

Automation is a major part of the future of work. It will change the way we work, the jobs we have, the way we recruit and the way we interact with our colleagues.

And, more importantly, it’s part of the ‘future of work’ that’s no longer in the future – it’s already here.

However, the mere mention of robotics, AI and automation in the same sentence as working life can make people panic a little. Will I still have a job in the future? Will automation make my skills obsolete?

We at have previously discussed the importance of not panicking about the future of work and the jobs that may be eradicated by automation.

In fact, automation is set to have a much more positive effect on the world of work, starting with job creation instead of destruction.

It’s all well and good to simply say that jobs will be created, but you might want to know specifics. What kind of jobs will be there? How can I get one of those jobs?

Well, remember when I said the future of work is already here? It is, and so are a number of those new jobs.

Bank of Ireland has one of the largest teams of accredited robotics programmers in Ireland with approximately 40 professionals looking after 130 robots and plans to grow the number of robots to about 200 by the end of this year.

Jonathan Kidd is head of digital operations and robotics at Bank of Ireland. He spoke to about the kind of skills you would need to work in a robotic process automation lab.

“You have to understand technology. You don’t have to be a software developer, you don’t have to have any particular expertise as a starting point,” he said.

Of course, additional tech skills such as C# programming skills or a background in AI will be a bonus.

However, Kidd wanted to point out that those coming in would learn a lot in the lab itself. “We don’t expect everyone to have those [skills] coming in day one,” he said.

From processing to robots

Automation can seem like a scary prospect, especially for those who haven’t come from a background in AI.

Niamh O’Driscoll is currently a programme manager within digital operations in the automation lab, but she didn’t come from an AI or programming background.

She said that anyone who is interested in a career in robotic process automation should be curious and want to ask questions about why things are done a certain way. “You have to be really inquisitive,” she said.

“Interpersonal skills are really important because you’re going out to loads of different people.”

Because AI can include everything from automated cars to robotic process automation, there is a wide scope of industries in which you can work.

Kidd advised potential candidates to understand the area that they want to work in. “Don’t underestimate the knowledge that you have already,” he said.

“If you understand banking, or you understand technology or you understand process analysis, all of that stuff is going to be useful when you’re coming into robotics.”

Update, 10:31am, 17 May 2018: This article was updated to correct mistaken figures and clarify that Bank of Ireland has 40 robotic programmers, not 130; these professionals look at 130 robots, not 70; and the bank aims to grow the number of robots (not the robotics programmer team) to 200 by the end of the year.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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