In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Joe Codd, sales director Veon Ltd.
Joe Codd was convinced he would be an engineer but the farming background his parents provided him with, sparked an interest in forestry.
By making himself relevant to the industry with a variety of forestry related jobs during his college years, Joe has managed to get himself his dream job. That is "apart from being a tester for Guinness” or a “professional hurler,” he says.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I am responsible for forest portfolio acquisitions in Ireland and the UK for domestic investors and some of the largest family wealth offices in Europe. I also work with a number of international consultants in the acquisition and management of country houses and landed estates with forestry.
I am responsible for developing lead generation strategies, implementing and monitoring their progress. I work with our regional managers to be more responsive and successful in lead generation and client acquisition. I work with the whole team, identifying new services and opportunities that will drive the success of the company. I also work on projects supplying consultation on forest issues.
Describe a typical day
My day can vary quite a lot as I could be out doing a forest inspection for acquisition, collecting forest data such as top heights, diameters, and stocking etc. I could also be based in the office running forest models and evaluating the data collected in the field for the purchase of any individual forest. Meeting potential investors for forestry and discussing forestry with them.
I would spend a lot of time on the phone to auctioneers and forest owners discussing forests on the market. The local Veon Regional Managers would constantly be in contact with me every day discussing opportunities that may arise with certain clients. We would also talk through any queries or problems they may have with certain forestry operations.
What are the main challenges?
Organising my time and prioritising jobs. The forest industry is very demanding at the moment with a surge in business activity. So keeping all my clients happy is a big priority for me. Finding top quality graduates has become somewhat of an issue over the past few years, graduates that are comfortable in a sales environment but also very land-basedwith practical views. It’s these staff members that drive the success of the company and who report to me on sales progress in their region.
Changing Forest Service policies and schemes over the past number of years have been problematic. Staying on top of all the changes to ensure you are in a position to advise your clients professionally and also the other employees in the company.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I believe I am very good with customers and create a good professional relationship that is based on trust. I am punctual with meetings but also on deadlines on operations and reports. Having an in-depth knowledge of the industry, I can discuss any forestry issues with any type of client. Having these skills allows me to be confident in doing my day to day roles. This also allows me to build good relationships with the rest of the staff within Veon which in turn helps drive the success of the company.
Dealing with clients on the purchase of estates and large forest portfolios is interesting, as is getting deals over the line and into the pipeline of work for the company. Having a job where no day is the same as the last. I can break into so many different roles as the industry that has so many opportunities, even though I did my degree in forestry. Being in a company where the staff get on very well, and we are given numerous opportunities to grow our experience. Having company cars, laptops, phones, expenses etc. is great.
What's not so cool?
Pressures of delivering on a daily basis; setting myself and the team targets and ensuring they are hit; being partially reliant on Forest Service grants and the constrictions that come with receiving these payments.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I worked in the industry every summer during my college years to make myself relevant to the industry. Upon graduating I worked in a Geographical Information Systems company and when I went travelling I worked in a tree surgery company again always keeping it relevant to my industry and showing potential future employers I had an interest in forestry.
Ten years ago I applied for a position with Veon Ltd. as a support forester to the regional managers. The job description was emailed to me from the Society of Irish Foresters as I was a student member. I got called for an interview and was lucky enough to start my career as a forester.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Identifying the company to work for when I was looking to start my career; choosing what type of a forester I wanted to be, as in what part of the industry I wanted to work: establishment, harvesting, management etc. Taking the role of Director of Sales based in HQ in Dublin within Veon Ltd. was a big decision.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
The managing director of Veon Ltd, Mr Daragh Little has guided me through all aspects of forestry in Ireland and abroad. This has been crucial in my career path as I was able to taste all aspects and decide where I wanted to go with my career. My parents guided me also as they are farmers and have a good grounding in land and business, they knew what type of a person I was also.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, I am an outdoor type of person who likes to meet people and am not afraid of new challenges and that is exactly the role I am in. I am married with three kids and I live in Dublin which has its challenges but my job and company have been very flexible with me.
Education and training
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
As it happens I thought I was going to be an engineer! So I chose physics, accounting, technical drawing, french and the three core subjects. I didn’t do geography or agricultural science which would have been helpful. But I came from a farming background and I believe this helped me more than anything to get on in my career.
Luckily enough I didn’t go the engineering route as I graduated in 2006 and came back from travelling in 2007 when I was looking for employment. 2007-8 would not have been a nice year to look for employment in engineering!
What is your education to date?
I have the National Diploma in Science in Forestry (now the BSc in Forestry) from Waterford Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Forestry from University College Dublin. I am currently sitting on the board of the Society of Irish Foresters also as a technical councillor.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
I was lucky as I had the pleasure of attending both WIT and UCD. This was very useful for networking and receiving training from two sets of academics.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I completed chainsaw, spraying and planting courses etc. when in college and since then I have completed training to be an IOSH Project Supervisor at Construction Stage (PSCS). I participate in the CPD system designed by the Society of Irish Foresters, this I find to be most beneficial as I can attend very relevant courses and seminars around the country. We are constantly going on management courses within Veon to improve our people and management skills also.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
I was central to the purchase of high-quality estates throughout Ireland including Coollattin Estate and Kilcooley Estate and other large forestry portfolios. Being appointed director of sales and achieving targets with the Regional Managers and Veon Foresters, helping them to develop their industry knowledge, has been very rewarding. Our company has opening offices in Agricultural Marts all over rural Ireland and creating bases and opportunities of employment for forestry graduates.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I am good with people; I have a firm base of knowledge about land. Being confident in what I do and believing in what I do help.
What is your dream job?
Apart from being a tester for Guinness, I am doing it! That or a professional hurler for Wexford under Davy Fitzgerald would be the dream job.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Be hard working with a good attitude for learning; be confident; be 100% committed to the role you are in.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Get as much knowledge of the role as possible, talk to someone in the company or role before you apply for it.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Start from the bottom of the industry. Work in a maintenance crew, cleaning trees, spraying, planting etc., perhaps then as an operations forester. A regional manager role requires good sales skills which usually are better with life experience.
It will depend on what company you work for or if you are going to be in private sector or state employment. Some roles may only require you to carry out one operation, whereas others may have a lot of sales requirements.
These WIT Forestry graduate testimonials were compiled by the Forestry Careers Promotion Group to mark the 20-year anniversary of Forestry courses at WIT in 2018.