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Interviews
John Liston, Project Manager
Farming, Horticulture & Forestry

John Liston, Project Manager

John Liston is a Project Manager with Treemetrics Ltd. The work placement John undertook in his degree has proved very important for his job now.

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first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

Making the decision to leave my last job which was in timber processing and moving on to a harvesting role was a challenge.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

My lecturers, Rachel O’Dowd, Tom Kent and Michael Pedini at Waterford Institute of Technology, and Des O’Toole in Coillte.

How did you go about getting your current job?

Contacted the owner of the business through Linkedin, started a conversation and went from there.

Describe a typical day?

Morning routine includes downloading satellite and GPRS data from all machines working on contracts for clients. Analysing the production data and looking at all communication messages from the machines to ensure all Treemetrics devices installed in the machines are working correctly. Ensure that all machines have the correct satellite imagery and shape files, and request the correct shape files from our clients if required.

After this, I will review the schedule for the day and follow up on any machine installations or machine maintenance that are required. Depending on the day, I will have meetings with clients to discuss the progress of their projects and to plan future requirements for the client. Other days may require travelling to visit contractors, harvesters in the forest or clients.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

Organising and planning Treemetrics Ltd projects. Analysing production data from harvesting machines. Product testing and research and development. Customer service for national and international clients.

What are the main challenges?

Monitoring a large number of machines working all over the country in everything from first thinnings to clearfells can be tricky. The stem files and production data coming from these machines can be very different. Keeping the machines up to date with the latest software and ensuring the machine has the correct shape file for each harvest unit can be difficult. Also having multiple projects, especially when they are international, can make this extra challenging.

What's cool?

Being involved in innovative pieces of work. Getting involved in field trials and having access to the latest equipment and machinery. Meeting new people in the industry with the same passion and drive as me. The job changes a lot so every week is different.

What's not so cool?

Working long hours with travelling, and commuting to sites that can be awkward to get around.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I bring my communication and interpersonal skills to the work place, which are very important for this job. On a daily basis I deal with contractors, machine operators and foresters who all can have different demands. I have to be able to communicate issues and technical information to each person differently as they all see an issue different to the next. An important skill I learned in WIT was data analytics.

The ability to interpret and organise raw data is very important when processing harvesting data. Also having an understanding of the productivity of harvesters on different site conditions in first thinning to clear fells allows me to read production data and display it accurately.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

All science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics.

What is your education to date?

I have graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology with the Bachelor of Science in Forestry and the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Land Management in Forestry.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

Site visits and work placement on the BSc in Forestry, as well as management and business modules in the add-on 4th year of the BSc in Land Management in Forestry.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

The most rewarding event of my career so far was in my last job coordinating and running a large-scale field trial between Medite, Coillte and Waterford Institute of Technology. This project was a big undertaking and was commended by Medite and Coillte. Another rewarding event was being invited to visit the Bord na Mona energy plant in Edenderry and being only one of a handful of people granted access to see the turbine and boilers in the energy plant.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

A good work ethic, while still achieving a good work-life balance. Also, good interpersonal skills as I work with different types of people on a daily basis in my current position.

What is your dream job?

Running my own forestry enterprise of some type.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

For the most part, my job suits my lifestyle. I work my own hours which makes the job flexible, however as work gets busier and deadlines come closer my working hours increase.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Be flexible and willing to adapt and keep an open mind when working on challenging problems.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Attention to detail A calm personality Being an outgoing type of person

Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

Not yet.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Working in a role where you deal with customers on a daily basis. Also working with machinery is very important as it gives you an understanding of the ability of harvesting machines and what they can produces in different conditions.

What is your current job title?

Project Manager at Treemetrics Ltd.

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