In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Eóin Glavey, owner and manager of Glavey Arboriculture and Forestry
Eóin Glavey was not fond of school when he was younger and could not wait to finish. When he got older and wanted to start his own business, he made the decision to return to school as a mature student and studied for Bachelor of Science in Forestry at WIT.
Eóin says he needs to be “a Jack of all trades” now that he is running his own business and is therefore now also studying for a diploma in Field ecology. “Every day is a learning day,” he says.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The tasks involved in the day to day management and operation of such a business are many and varied. These include, meeting potential clients, assessing and preparing tenders, leading and supervising staff to complete the job. 50% Of my work is hands on work including: Tree dismantling, pruning and shaping, motor manual forestry operations, pest and disease ID and prescription, tree reports and surveys.
Describe a typical day
My typical day starts between 7:00 and 7:30am, depending on travel time. My first task is loading and checking the equipment for the job. On arrival at the site the team carries out a risk assessment and agree the tasks to be completed within the time frame. If the job requires climbers they will start by removing branches which the ground staff will tidy up and feed through the wood chipper.
Break times are usually 11:00am and 14:00pm for 30 minutes each. These times can vary of course if you are climbing and need an extra 15 minutes to finish. Work should finish between 16:00 and 17:00pm, but it is often 20:00pm in the summer months.
What are the main challenges?
Being the boss is particularly hard to switch off when I get home and to participate fully in family life. Unsuitable weather is always a challenge whether the ground is too wet to get into a site or the winds are too strong to climb.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
In running my own business I need to be a “Jack of all trades” I also need to be a master of some in particular, all aspects of tree health and care, managing risk, climbing and working at height.
Climbing 50m+ trees on a fresh winters day, meeting interesting people and seeing beautiful normally inaccessible parts of the countryside.
What's not so cool?
Dealing with conflict whether with customers or their neighbours, an employee or sub-contractors. Trying to get out from under the covers on wet, dark morning. Having lunch in the truck in soaking wet cold clothes.
How did you go about getting your current job?
Lots and lots of hard work and long days. I started by completing a certificate in horticulture, I progressed from horticulture to tree surgery with a company where I was trained and got my trade quailifications. I later started my own business but realised after a couple of years that I needed a degree in forestry to grow and diversify the business.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Deciding to return to college as a mature student to study the Bachelor of Science in Forestry at Waterford Institute of Technology.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Colin Greaney, my first employer in the tree surgery industry, who taught me the basics of tree climbing and a good work ethic. Colin was also a forestry graduate from WIT. My partner Ciara who supports me through every decision I make and pulls me back when I’m losing touch.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
To an extent, however at present not entirely as I work too much. In the near future I am confident that it will be all worthwhile and I will have a better life/work balance.
Education and training
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
I hated school and could not wait to finish. I did practical subjects such as construction studies, technical drawing and music. I always enjoyed maths which has applications in every aspect of my business.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
After completing the BSc in Forestry I am more strategic in business planning and in utilising my time more efficiently. During the course I also learned how to apply Excel, Power Point, Word and GIS, all of which I have incorporated into the day to day running of my business, giving added benefit to the customers.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I am currently studying for a Diploma in Field Ecology. I will continue to gain trade qualifications and become a qualified trainer. I intend to complete a Masters in Arboriculture at some stage. Every day is a learning day!
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
I was recently accepted as a technical member of the Arboriculture Association and the Society of Irish Foresters, both of which require a minimum of a degree in Forestry.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I believe I am trustworthy, dependable and have a strong sense of responsibility. I work hard and strive for quality.
What is your dream job?
My current job, but without the financial burden.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Honesty, dependability and good communication.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
It is a physically taxing and stressful job, therfore careful consideration should be given before embarking on a career. Some hands on experience in the field before committing is recommended. Not a career for the faint hearted!
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Working for a tree care company would provide good background experience for arboriculture work. Working with a professional forester who is active in conservation and woodland management would be beneficial for the forestry aspect of this role.
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.