In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Mark Clery, regional forester for SWS Forestry Services Ltd.
Mark Clery was taking a chance when he chose to study Science in Forestry at WIT. His parents own a farm and were very supportive of his interest in forestry “as long as I didn’t think of planting the farm at home,” Mark says. Nowadays Mark is a regional forester for SWS Forestry and enjoys meeting his clients, solving problems and the freedom to determine the direction of his day.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I procure land for afforestation, develop sites to the Forest Service guidelines, maintain forest plantations to Forest Service guidelines and deliver quality customer service.
Describe a typical day
There’s no such thing! Typically the various situations that arise throughout the day can determine the events of that day. A single phone call can determine the focus of that day i.e. meeting clients or walking sites.
What are the main challenges?
Challenges include a changing marketplace for forestry; land availability for the afforestation scheme; increased regulations; the impact of Brexit on timber prices.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Hard work, determination to reach targets and time management
Meeting new and existing clients, solving problems that may arise and the freedom to determine the direction of the day are all great.
What's not so cool?
Increased paperwork makes life difficult.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I sent out my CV to SWS Forestry and had a face to face meeting with the Managing Director before eventually going for an interview. The rest is history!
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Taking a chance on choosing the Bachelor of Science in Forestry at Waterford Institute of Technology when I was in secondary school was the main ‘career decision’. It was nothing more than taking a chance on it at the time and see how things turned out.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My parents were very supportive of my interest in forestry as long as I didn’t think of planting the farm at home!
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes very much so.
Education and training
What is your education to date?
My highest degree to date is the Bachelor of Science in Land Management in Forestry that I acquired at Waterford Institute of Technology.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The business and forestry modules proved to be very important for my current occupation.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
On the job training is a regular occurrence especially when talking to colleagues of mine about various issues and the field days organised by the Society of Irish Foresters are always informative.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Completing my first planting season, carrying out my first thinning and delivering the best customer service possible are all rewarding.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Be sociable. You have to be in possession of good communication and social skills in this position and have perseverance, a lot can go against you too and you have to be able to switch off.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
You have to be able to deal and communicate with people; you need to be self-motivated, a lot of the time it will be up to you to determine where you get the work from and work hard. This isn’t a nine to five job, so expect long hours.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Make sure you know what you’re getting into and do your homework on what this job entails.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Generally, most people start out in the forest contracting crews so that will give a person a good grounding in what forestry is all about.
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.