Young professionals who graduated in the last 10 years were invited to attend a free webinar hosted by the Agricultural Science Association (ASA).

Sixty virtual attendees tuned in for insightful financial advice and inspiring career insights from industry members.

Financial adviser and owner of Davis Financial Services Colm Davis outlined the importance of good financial planning early on in your career.

The first thing Colm always recommends to clients is to set up an emergency fund.

“I can’t overestimate how important it is,” he told attendees. “This is money that is there for your use should a non-expected event happen.”

His recommendation is to have three months of a net salary as an emergency fund.

“Once you have that, there it is a great buffer and it gives a lot of financial security. Savings is more to do with spending less than earning more.”

Colm emphasised that saving and investment decisions should reflect what stage in life you are in, both professionally and personally.

“Everyone needs to be aware of their financial strengths and weaknesses.”

Career insights

Former ASA president Mary Delaney moderated an in-depth career insight discussion with a panel of young professionals that included:

  • Christopher Tuffy, FBD Young Farmer of the Year, who highlighted his own experience in farming, including the challenges he has faced and his future plans for the months and year ahead.
  • Deirdre O'Shea, food and agribusiness lead Aon Ireland and former director of Agri Aware, who discussed the ups and downs of making a career change in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • James Byrne, Irish Country Meats export sales manager, who detailed his career progression to date, including the importance of networking and what his plans for the future are.
  • Barry Larkin, tillage expert and CEO of Acorn Independent Merchants, informed attendees on how tillage farming led him to becoming the CEO of large businesses.
  • Hazel Rooney, technical pig co-ordinator Alltech, illustrated her experience of job hunting during a pandemic, the importance of forming and retaining professional links and her thoughts on the future.
  • Take-away advice

    Providing a broad calibre of advice, the panel had the following take-home messages for those in attendance:

    The importance of networking

    All panelists highlighted the importance of meeting people in a professional capacity, whether it’s for mentorship, advice or help.

    Deirdre O’Shea put it simply: “Always accept or look for a cup of coffee.”

    The panel emphasised that having a good mentor could provide you with regular advice and help in progressing your career.

    Try to find someone you are comfortable with, who has good knowledge in the area you are interested in.

    Mary adds: “People are only more than happy to help anyone at any stage in their career if they can help - it’s just having the confidence to put yourself forward. For individual and industry success, we must be connected as professionals.”

    Build up your professional profile

    Hazel encouraged members to “try build up your profile within the industry and become a leader in that area. Having a really strong LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account and getting involved in things that will put your name out there. You just have to promote yourself within the industry as it could lead to some great opportunities.”

    ASA president Tommy Boland closed the webinar by highlighting the level of young talent in the industry.

    “It’s really encouraging and reassuring that we have such good people coming through all aspects of the industry. It’s an industry faced with a lot of challenges but it’s an industry that’s certainly in very safe hands.”

    For more information on the ASA, visit their website here.

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