Machinery editor James Maloney was joined by a panel of people who work in the ag machinery sector.

McHale is a family-run business which makes balers and bale wrappers, based in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, and Paul McHale is marketing manager. Paul started in the family business when he was 10 or 11, “kicking around the workshop. I started from the ground up, sweeping floors”. Paul completed a BComm in Galway and then did a masters where he specialised in internet marketing.

Paul says there is a skills shortage in the electronic sector, so there are huge opportunities but also huge challenges. He advises those looking to get into the sector to “try and position yourself in a role that is really required”.

William Judge is manager of national sales of Massey Ferguson for the UK and Ireland. Massey Ferguson is just one agricultural machinery brand owned and produced by AGCO, the company William works for. AGCO is one of the biggest agri-machinery companies in the world. It had sales of $9.7bn in 2014 and it also owns and produces the Fendt and Challenger brands of machinery. William was originally sales manager for both of these brands in Ireland. He then worked as the AGCO harvesting sale manager for the UK and Ireland from 2012, before being promoted to his current role.

William says that in Massey Ferguson, all the engineering graduates taken on last year were Irish.

William did an ag science degree in Edinburgh and then completed a business degree. While in college in Tallaght, he also worked as a salesman in RF Colton in Tullamore and under the guidance of owner Ronnie Colton, William found an inner drive and desire to pursue this particular career.

’Major’ career

William’s co-panelist Eibhlin Murphy studied commerce and German in UCD. Eibhlin is marketing manager at Major Equipment Intl Ltd. Major was established in 1976 and is a manufacturer and international exporter of agricultural, amenity and site equipment. The products are manufactured and distributed under the brand name of MAJOR. Eibhlin’s first job was in stores at the age of 12. Eibhlin says if you really want a job in this sector have a good attitude and show that you want it – get out there and get experience.

Start small and have big ambitions, says William Judge, while Paul McHale believes you have to start from the ground up. Farming can be a lonely job but you have to be willing to be social and be the face of the business as well.

Paul McHale says he really looks for ambition in a CV. “It all comes down to relevant experience and showing that love for machinery – going that extra mile. From when you’re 16 or 17, you need to be building your CV from there.” Paul adds that those going on J1 should take this chance to get relevant experience.

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Full coverage: Agri Careers Fair