International Day of Women and Girls in Science

10th February 2022

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

An interview with Lorna Power, Trainee Ruminant Sales ROI

Today is the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A day to recognise and celebrate the role of women and girls in science and technology.

The United Nations has highlighted that there is a significant gender gap at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which despite the progress that has been made over the past few decades, still finds that women are underrepresented in these fields.

At Devenish, we celebrate diversity within our team. To mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we spoke to Lorna Power, Trainee Ruminant Sales ROI, to hear her journey from agricultural science to becoming a trainee in ruminant sales.

Lorna, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to get to where you are today?

I grew up on a beef farm of roughly 60 acres, where we also have a small number of breeding ewes and sport horses. I spent most of my childhood out on the farm which is where my love of agriculture came from.

I attended Waterford Institute of Technology and studied BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science where I received a First-Class Honours, and the opportunity to complete work placement in FBA Laboratories in their Animal Diagnostics department.

After completing my studies, I travelled to New Zealand where I worked on a dairy farm in Ashburton, South Island. The farm had 2,500 cows milking on a platform of 830 hectares and my main role was rearing calves, milking cows and grassland management for the milking herd. There was a huge emphasis placed on the importance of grass management and nutrition, and the effect that a small tweak in feed type, quality or quantity could have on cows' milk production overnight - I found this fascinating, and it was invaluable experience.

When I came back to Ireland, I returned to FBA Laboratories, but this time I worked in the Feed Evaluation department. This was very interesting for me as I was analysing different feed ingredients and forages to determine nutritional quality and feeding value. During this time, I constantly found myself researching the feeds I was analysing, comparing them to previous samples tested and trying to determine what effect the results could have on-farm. This is when I knew that I wanted to become a Ruminant Nutritionist and I would need to move into a nutrition company to make this happen.

I started working in Devenish in September 2019 on the Graduate Programme, based in Belfast. As part of the programme, I completed rotations around different areas of the business which provided me with a broad range of experience and helped me to understand the entire process before products arrive with customers. I started my current role as Trainee Ruminant Sales ROI in August 2021 after completing the Graduate Programme.

Through your journey in science do you have any key milestones or awards you would like to share?

I was awarded the 'Grant Thornton Best Emerging Enterprise Award' and placed 2nd overall at the National Student Entrepreneur Awards for pitching an original business idea, which encompassed the use of a novel, sustainable and intuitive protein source in the place of more well-known protein sources in animal feed.

Did you always know that a science related career was for you?

When I was in school, I really enjoyed science related subjects and I was fascinated by nutrition. I loved how certain nutrients had certain functions, and how a physical outcome could be manipulated by adapting the diet, so I followed this interest and decided to study agricultural science, biology, and home economics for my optional subjects in my Leaving Certificate exams.

Can you give us an insight into what a typical day looks like for a Trainee in Ruminant Sales?

My role can be very different from day-to-day. I'm either working out of my home office or I'm out on the road with customers. I really enjoy calling out to farms, this is where I look at their livestock and examine performance. I then discuss customer queries to find what they want to improve and how Devenish can help. I make feeding recommendations and begin formulating diets and additional minerals to achieve their goals. Each customer has a different concern, so I'm always on hand to provide nutritional support, tailoring our products and services to meet their needs.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that no two days are ever the same. I really enjoy interacting with customers and building relationships with them. Taking responsibility and accountability for customer accounts has also been very rewarding. The Ruminant team in Devenish are very experienced and I'm very fortunate to have them, they always push me to develop and are very supportive. I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my job, I love the mix of being out on-farm with customers looking at their livestock and discussing issues they are having or how they want to boost performance, and then coming away from the situation to research and formulate/fine tune diets. I get great satisfaction in making a positive difference to the life of the farmer and their animals and I've found since starting my new role that I never watch the clock because I really enjoy what I do.

What advice would give to others who are unsure of what career path or academic route they want to take?

I would say not to panic and trust the process. Get yourself out there at an early age, talk to different people and get some hands-on experience in as many areas as possible. I would recommend grabbing every opportunity that comes your way because you never know what doors it will open for you in the future. My Grandad has always told me that 'if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life', I do believe that once you find what you're genuinely interested in and passionate about, anything is achievable.

Outside of work do you have any hobbies or interests?

I am a keen showjumper and have been for most of my life. I started horse riding at the age of five and started show jumping when I was roughly seven years old. I currently compete on the national circuit and in 2019, I finished 1st to qualify for the Royal Dublin Horse Show (RDS) Amateur 1.20m class. In 2013, I finished 2nd to qualify for the Young Rider 1.10m-1.15m class, finishing 6th in the Championship Final in the RDS the same year. Having a hobby that I can be competitive with has been a huge advantage to me over the years as it has taught me self-discipline, persistency, and determination. It also gave me an outlet from everyday life and a way to blow off some steam!

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