In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Tony Lenighan, forester, Western Forestry Co-operative Society Ltd.
Forester Tony Lenighan was not sure at first when he chose to study Forestry but turned out to really enjoy the industry. Now he just knows he has picked the right career path.
Tony's current job allows him to have a lifestyle he is happy with because “there is a balance of working indoors and outside. Most of the time you feel like you are your own boss,” he says.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The main tasks and responsibilities are to keep an afforestation program going and to identify new clients, to manage and maintain forest sites that were planted within a four-year period. Also, I manage and direct workers to complete the work.
Describe a typical day
A typical day would be half the day in the office completing paperwork and contacting clients, with the other half either checking new planting land or walking forest sites that are being planted or established forests to check if maintenance is required.
What are the main challenges?
Some of the main challenges are to convince the farmers which aren’t 100 percent on for planting to plant, talking to local dwelling owners about forestry that particular don’t like the idea. Managing a few sites at the same time and organising workers to complete the work. Try getting the new application approved for afforestation scheme with the department is a slow process.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Being organised is a major skill as keeping paperwork on file is very important for future reference, being able to organise a site from start to finish and to keep work ahead of the workers.
That the job just doesn’t consist of office work, that there is a balance of working indoors and outside. Most of the time you feel like you are your own boss. I have a company van the job is based so near home is a bonus.
What's not so cool?
When angry people give out to you because they have a dislike against trees.
How did you go about getting your current job?
There was a job advertised, where I then sent in a CV. Completed two interviews and was given the job.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
At first when I selected the forestry course in WIT I wasn’t sure but after time I knew I picked the right career path. My plan after college was to pursue a career in the forestry industry first before I tried a different career.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Careers guides teacher in secondary school and my father who works in the sector.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Very much so as you be spending halftime between office work and outside work which I much prefer. It is also flexible hours which allows you to work around your life as well not just work.
Education and training
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Biology, geography, construction, accounting, maths, English and Irish: out of these subjects those which most influenced my career path would be accounting, maths and biology.
What is your education to date?
I attended Waterford Institute of Technology and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Land Management in Forestry.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The main aspects would be all the practical projects and reports we had as assessments in college, as I am able to put together maps for an afforestation process and having an understanding of the rules and regulations of the Forest Service schemes. Learning Excel and Word helps a lot with working faster and more efficiently in my job.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I have undertaken an ecological site classification course so far and l plan to undertake further training when the opportunities arise to better myself as a forester.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Getting the job straight after college with the Western Forestry Co-op was a great achievement. Work experience was also rewarding, as I got a good insight into the whole forestry sector within my 15-weekplacement at Coillte.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Having a background in farming is a major advantage when interacting with clients. Been able to talk and sell the idea of planting forestry as a land use to the client.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be to manage Arsenal soccer club.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
The ability to work in a team is important and alone and self-motivation as it is up to you to do the work. Also time management for scheduling your day efficiently and it is very important to be on time tothe client as it is all about first impressions.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
To hit the ground running, as it is all learning at the start and to adapt quickly.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
The kind of work experience that I would think that would give you a good background for this position is to start at forest maintenance and planting with a forestry contractor to get a feel for what happens on the ground and to shadow a forester on a day to day basis for a period to see the range of activities they carry out.
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.