Name: Jason MeenaghanWhat are the main tasks and responsibilities?
As part of a graduate programme tasks vary weekly from management of farms and resources in Central America to management of the ripening centres throughout Europe. So, for example, on the farm we would have each task assigned and supervised by a single captain. They oversee operations in any particular area of the farm within the given timeframe. Other tasks and responsibilities include financial planning and supply chain management.
Describe a typical day?
A typical day in Central America would see me getting up at 6am and on the farm for 6.30am. Most of my days, whilst on the farms incorporated all aspects of fruit production from land preparation through fruit protection and harvesting. The idea behind the programme is to experience all aspects of fruit production through ripening, logistics and sales. This will give the trainee a competitive edge when it comes to negotiating costs, plant materials, etc.
What are the main challenges?
The biggest challenge for me is certainly the Spanish language and communication with fellow workers in Central America. However, my forestry degree prepared me well in terms of Silviculture, plant health and forest management. We may not use the same words but crop management is based around the same fundamental pillars of growing any crop albeit trees or fruit.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I bring the well-rounded knowledge behind plant establishment combined with over ten years management experience.
I really enjoy the travelling and encounters with different people and cultures. Being able to combine working outdoors and working indoors makes for a well-balanced and fulfilling career.
What’s not so cool?
Nothing really, but I guess if I had to say something it would be the time difference across the continents. This can lead to delays in people responding to e-mails thus some processes can take some time to get sorted out.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I met Fyffes at the agri-careers fair in the RDS March 2016. I applied for the programme as it gave me the opportunity to use my Mandarin Chinese language. If you had said to me at the start of my Forestry degree in UCD I would end up working in bananas I would have said “you’re bananas” - excuse the pun.
What were the main” career decision” milestones in your life so far?
Deciding on whether to take the Fyffes job or a forestry job with Tillhill forestry in Sterling Scotland.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Ultimately I made that decision myself. I went back to university at the mature age of 26 wanting to do something I loved. This took several months to figure out. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCD and loved my degree. I studied for a semester at Michigan State University and undertook some relevant forestry experience in California. All the people I met along the way were likeminded and I remain friends with them to this day.
When it came to the decision of Fyffes or forestry, I chose Fyffes for the opportunity to work in China.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Absolutely, for now.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
School was a long time ago. University on the other hand equipped me with the skills I needed to pursue a career involving the great outdoors. I particularly enjoyed forest management and calculating out efficiencies using the critical path method. Going back to university as a mature student I needed to be able to stand out when I graduated. I chose to take a language as I was always interested in languages and I love a challenge, so I took Mandarin Chinese. I honestly thought there would be an opportunity in a forestry related role using mandarin.
What is your education to date?
Honours B.Agr.Sc. (Forestry) from UCD (graduated September 2016)
Forest management, Silviculture, plant health/protection and Mandarin Chinese.
To date I have completed further courses in Mandarin Chinese in anticipation of moving to China.
I’m planning to do an online master’s in business supported by the company
The time I spent on the ground in Central America, working closely with the farmers in producing the crop.
I would consider myself easy going and self-motivated and very approachable. Ten years of working with the public makes it quite easy to talk to anyone.
I like the thoughts of becoming a Park Ranger.
Advice for Others
Three most important personal characteristics include,
- The ability to communicate
- Need to be self-motivated
- Love travel and experiencing new things.
If you love the outdoors and anything agriculture related and want to travel then you should seriously consider this career.
Any work experience related to crop production, crop management, plant health and working with the public.
Forestry Careers Ireland