Ask me your
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Getting my degree was the first milestone. Becoming a member and then treasurer of the Society of Irish Foresters, becoming Managing Director of FEL in 2003 and hiring a business coach in 2007. This changed the way I think from being a forester owning a business to being a businessman owning a forestry business. It opened doors and got me out of my shell. The business got a lot stronger and more influential after that e.Becoming chairman of the Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association in 2013 up to the present day. This organisations influence has grown enormously under my leadership and gives me access to the highest levels of Government.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
- Eamon Flanagan, the founder of FEL gave me a start in forestry and trusted me enough to take over the reigns
- My business coach, Richard Cullen, who was instrumental in reshaping my thinking
- My father who never questioned my desire (even when I mucked up exams). He was always behind me offering came advice from his career as a manager of people.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I kind of fell into it. FEL was a small company in the 1990s but towards the end of the nineties it began to grow rapidly. As such it needed someone to take over the running of the business, hire and train new staff, develop business models and plans and direct others to achieve goals. The company kept growing until an opportunity arose to merge with another like-minded company which now employs 27 people throughout Ireland and is one of the leading forestry companies in the country. I am now the Managing Director – Forestry in this organisation.
Describe a typical day?
My typical day consists of reviewing targets V actual delivery, meeting stakeholders and clients to deliver on their goals, writing reports for clients and colleagues, forest valuations and solving problems that arise. Finally, being a business owner, I am concerned with achieving targets, profit and cashflow.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I am Managing Director – forestry for Veon Limited. In this role I am responsible for delivering forestry operations for our clients to a required standard. I am also responsible for forestry policy and Strategy and Research and Development within Veon. Additionally, I purchase forest properties for clients in the southwest.
What are the main challenges?
I love to network with my colleagues in the State sector and private sector to deliver for our clients. I love beating targets. I like being invited to participate in initiatives and boards like COFORD, IFFPA, etc. I like Research especially when we can apply it to make a profitable service. Getting out in the field with my forestry team. Buying forestry properties. Having been responsible for purchasing nearly 30,000 acres of forests and selling about half of that is really cool!
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
I took biology, geography, chemistry, as the elective subjects. I was always the outdoors type of person and although we did not get much chance to get outdoors during school I was able to apply them. When choosing my Agriculture degree these courses really helped. Geography in particular was enjoyable as I love maps and we use a lot of maps in forestry. I was always regarded as an underachiever, but I knew what I wanted and what I need to do to get it.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
a. I underestimated English in school. However, it is a key part of communicating to my staff, clients and stakeholders. Being able to write a report, tell a story in writing is really important to imparting an argument or trying to persuade others to make the right decisions for them, for example
b. I always knew geography would be useful and I was right. Being able to read and understand maps, for example, is important in forestry. Understanding physical features in the landscape was also important.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
- Winning business coaching awards 2 years in a row
- Merging two companies together
- Becoming chairman of IFFPA
- Buying my own forest and managing it
- Hiring more foresters and mentoring them in their careers
- Starting and developing the forestry plantation market in Ireland by persuading investors to invest
- Have now purchased 30,000 acres in 20 years.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
My job does allow me to have the lifestyle I am happy with. I work long but enjoyable hours, I work close to home, with the freedom to work my own hours. I have the freedom to set the direction of my company, to get out and about, to influence, to network, to experiment and to research. These are things I really enjoy.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Forestry is not just about planting and harvesting, it provides skillsets that can be used in many careers. Forestry is about people as every forest is owned by someone and you must be able to communicate your vision for their forest. It is about learning. You will never stop learning in this career and that makes it cool. Finally you can go anywhere on the planet with the skills you will learn. Forestry is virtually the same everywhere – just different trees. I have worked in several countries around the world and used the skills I learned in Ireland to bring value.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
This depends on the area you are aiming for in forestry. The career is quite wide ranging from planting trees to computer modelling and programming. i. An agricultural background is useful as forestry is mainly a farm enterprise in Ireland ii. Work experience where you are interacting with people is very important iii. If you're interest is computer based, having experience in GIS, computer programming, etc. is becoming more and more important iv. Naturally, coming from a forestry background either through family or working for a forestry contractor will help.
Education and Training?
Advice for Others?