Careers panel at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus

Date published: 13 March 2023

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) recently hosted a Careers Day at Enniskillen Campus. The event included a discussion panel, chaired by Leo Powell, Editor of The Irish Field.

CAFRE Enniskillen Campus Careers Day Panel 2023, Jane Elliott, Acting Head of Equine Branch, CAFRE, Suzanne Macken, Danielle McKeever, Tim Downes (on screen), Jamie O’Flynn (on screen), Joseph Murphy, Alice Kavanagh, Leo Powell.

Head of Equine Branch, Jane Elliott welcomed students by stating: “It’s good to see so many students in the hall today. You probably don’t realise it at this stage of your life, but you are key to the future success of the equine industry. While economic pressures may temporarily make it more difficult for young people seeking a future in the industry, now is the time to take full advantage of your time at Enniskillen. While you are at College, I encourage you to take all opportunities to expand your equine knowledge and skills of horsemanship and widen your network of industry contacts because this will enhance your future career prospects.”

Members of the panel included Tim Downes, Jamie O’ Flynn, Alice Kavanagh, Danielle McKeever, Suzanne Macken and Joseph Murphy.

Tim Downes, Chairman of the British Horse Society (BHS) Fellows, a 5* International eventing judge and British Dressage (BD) coach, master judge and joint owner of Ingestre Stables, joined the panel remotely and discussed the importance of planning your career, future proofing yourself and the significance of the journey on your way to gaining a qualification.  Tim’s final piece of advice was to ‘Believe in yourself’.

Jamie O’ Flynn also joined the panel remotely from Lexington, USA.  Jamie is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Avanti Equine Veterinary Partners.  Jamie discussed not ‘pigeon holing’ yourself, the importance of education, and concluded with the advice to work hard and ask to be involved in everything.

CAFRE Graduate Alice Kavanagh, AK Thoroughbreds and Broodmare Manager, Kildaragh Stud talked fondly of her time at CAFRE, explaining that she still looks at her college notes, particularly on neonatal care.  Alice stated that CAFRE was the perfect thing for her at the right time, and she particularly enjoyed being able to ride out the college Point to Point horses in the morning before sitting down to focus on classes. Alice’s main piece of advice was that “Mindset and attitude will beat talent any day.”

Another CAFRE Graduate Danielle McKeever, Contract Administration and Stallion Bookings, Coolmore Stud talked about her introduction to the racing industry at CAFRE, “The college are very good at nurturing that passion, developing it and turning it into something”.  Danielle’s parting advice was to “Be open to every opportunity even if it’s not what you think you want at that moment it could lead to something else.”

Suzanne Macken, Coach and Sport Horse Producer, and Dublin Horse Show Judge talked about the need to upskill all the time, the importance of listening and communicating, and that horse welfare is paramount.  Suzanne shared her pearl of wisdom with students: “Take every chance you can get to open a new door.”

Joseph Murphy, Olympian event rider talked about educating yourself, showing a good attitude, having a hunger to get better, and the passion needed to follow your dream.  Joseph concluded with: “98% of everything you do is up to you, the other 2% is probably your coaches, surroundings, and other people.  It’s up to you to make that step and it’s important that you do.”

Leo Powell concluded the panel discussion with the valuable advice “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, if you get it wrong, you get it wrong, pick yourself up and get on again.”

To finish off the afternoon there was a vote of thanks on behalf of the students by the Student Representative Committee (SRC) chairperson, Claine Cassidy, Co. Meath, BSc (Hons) Degree in Equine Management student. Shethanked the panellists saying ‘’on behalf of myself as SRC chairperson and all the students of CAFRE, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the industry representatives present here today. It is very much appreciated that you have taken time out of your busy schedules to attend our first in person careers day since 29th of January 2020. As students, we always look forward to the valuable knowledge and experiences you share with us each year. ‘’

A formal vote of thanks followed from Dr Eric Long, Head of Education, CAFRE to the Campus staff and students, and industry representatives to complete another successful careers day at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus.

If you are interested in studying for an Equine qualification, book now to join us on our Course Open Day on Saturday 25 March, for booking information visit the CAFRE website.

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