Agri Career: Head of Customer Success at Herdwatch
That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Eoin Moloney (34), Roscrea, Co Tipperary in this week’s Career Focus segment.
He discusses his non-farming engineering background, returning to study and being ‘employee number one’ at Herdwatch. He became its head of member experience and is now its head of customer success.
“I never thought I would have been working in the ag or ag-tech sector when I began my undergrad. I had very little experience in agriculture up to that point.
I am not from a farming background, but I am married to a dairy farmer’s daughter.
Moreover, I always wanted to be an engineer as I always liked being involved in creating and delivering solutions to problems.
Furthermore, I graduated from the University of Limerick in 2009 with a BSc in Construction Management and Engineering.
After graduation, I began working for the engineering firm, Sisk & Sons, as a junior engineer. Although I enjoyed the job and its challenges, I found the commuting tough. The areas of the country you were based in could change once you finished a job.
This time also coincided with the sharp economic downturn, so I began to explore the possibility of further study. With this, I enrolled back into UL in 2012 to do a postgrad in software development.
When I completed the course, I was lucky enough to get a job with FRS in the I.T department in Roscrea.
Career with Herdwatch
The head of I.T in FRS was Fabien Peyaud, who also happens to be the CEO of Herdwatch.
At the time, Herdwatch was going through its initial R&D and proof of concept, so I landed on my feet and was able to start contributing to it from the very start.
I found from early on that I had a passion for helping people and building relationships, so talking to farmers to understand the challenges they face on-farm and how we, at Herdwatch, could help them overcome those challenges intrigued me.
Head of customer success
I am currently Herdwatch’s head of customer success. Herdwatch is the market-leading app in Ireland and the UK, helping over 16,000 farmers to:
- Reduce paperwork;
- Save time;
- Make better decisions on the farm.
We do this by allowing farmers to stay compliant by recording events in real-time on their phone, tablet, or PC.
Herdwatch also allows farmers to access farm and animal data at any time. This ultimately allows them to make crucial farm decisions on the spot to drive their business forward and increase probability.
The idea of helping to develop a technology solution that would make daily life and decision making easier for farmers sparked my interest in the field.
Working for Herdwatch and FRS, the ethos and focus have always been about helping farmers. Therefore, doing this using technology to digitise farm records was a natural fit.
I moved to fill this position earlier this year, having been head of member experience previously.
A day in his working life
I currently manage a team of five people where I am responsible for ensuring our team delivers to our members a best-in-class service for any needs they may have, from on-board to help them get started and maximising the value they can get from Herdwatch to answering any support or technical queries, to accounts and billing.
I work closely with and communicate with all members of the customer success team to ensure they have everything they need to resolve any inbound customer questions and queries.
This can involve coaching and mentoring new team members, coordinating and conducting training for the team for any new product or feature releases.
I liaise with our SME to confirm any product feedback, feature requests or issues are escalated to our product and technology teams.
Furthermore, I make sure all members are clear on what our targets and objectives are and provide any other support or help they may need.
Outside of the customer success team members, I work closely with our CEO Fabien Peyaud and our head of growth, Mervyn Harvey, daily to make sure our teams are all working hand in hand.
From a product point of view, I would also work closely with our head of product, James Greevy. We focus on how we can make Herdwatch even better and prove more value to our members.
Seeing and hearing feedback from our members where Herdwatch is making a positive difference to their farm and business daily are elements that I enjoy most.
I also enjoy sharing some of the knowledge I have. Besides, I like seeing team members grow and develop and deliver on the promise they have.
When it comes to both software and farming, there are always challenges. With software, our challenge is to stay ahead and continue to develop Herdwatch to enhance the value it can give to our members.
Branching into new areas to deliver can be a new challenge to deliver. However, you must also maintain the Herdwatch mantra of simple, quick and easy to use.
Farmers are constantly facing challenges. The past two years alone, as well as the current crisis in Ukraine, are prime examples.
At Herdwatch, we have also helped farmers overcome some of the challenges, such as launching our free Covid Cattle Exchange to help connect farmers who needed to sell animals with farmers who want to buy animals whilst marts were closed or operating under restrictions, with over 6,000 listings made on the service.
It is a very enjoyable role. As with any job, it comes with challenges and expectations, but I enjoy taking these both on.
I do have to say working with such a great team of people daily as well as having someone as ambitious as Fabien at the helm helps to make it easier too.
My career highlight to date has to be a trip to Buckingham Palace to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, in 2016.
Since Covid-19, we do a hybrid model: 3 days in the office and 2 at home. It is the best of both worlds. We get time we need together each week to work as a team and from home, which most people in Ireland are now pretty used to.
Also, it is a great option for those who have a longer commute. It provides us with real flexibility that we did not have pre-Covid.
I am happy where I am now. If I went back and done something different, the opportunities I have got may not have come.
I would have to say Herdwatch’s CEO, Fabien Peyaud inspired my career. He has had a big impact on helping me develop as a person and grow into being able to fulfil and deliver in the role I currently have.
Without this trust and belief in me, I would not be where I am today. Thanks, Fabien! Also, others in Herdwatch like Mervyn Harvey, who has helped me massively develop my skill set and the wider FRS community, like Peter Byrne.
Advice for new graduates
I have just completed a diploma in inside sales from TUD and do not plan to do any more studying in the immediate future. Still, I am sure I would be interested if the right opportunity to challenge and progress myself comes up.
In my early 20s, I do not think I would ever have said I would have been working in this industry. Now, I am very glad and happy that I am.
The industry is also very diverse. So, if you are interested in anything from ag itself to software or science, there are so many opportunities.
I would advise recent grads who want to work in the ag industry to have patience. You cannot get to the top in a year. Sometimes you just need to keep your head down, work hard and, in a way, pay it forward.
If you do this and focus on learning, growing, and improving, your opportunity will come.
The best piece of career-related advice I have ever received is as follows: try to focus on being a lifelong learner.
Try and go home each day having learned something new or having acquired some information that can help you do your job better (no matter how small).
It has been a developing journey. The industry has shown me that if you have a willingness and aptitude to learn and work hard, you will undoubtedly grow as both a person and within whatever role you end up doing.”
The future of technology in Ireland
Technology is going to play a major role in the future of farming. Look at the increased part is playing on-farm now versus ten years ago and how farmers have embraced technology too.
With the increased requirements to be more climate aware and cognisant of the environmental impact we have, I hope farmers continue to place their trust in technology to help create solutions to these challenges.”
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