Forestry, an a-typical recruit!

This is the first blog in a series of six that I have been asked to write. I intend to use this edition to give a little insight into myself and my past. My Name is Jay Li Sanderson. I started work with Tilhill Forestry as an Assistant Forest Manager in September in 2018. I am based in the North & Central England District at the main Malton office in North Yorkshire, although I am originally from the small fishing port of Liverpool. I was not actually a forester having trained in Environmental Science and previously working in an environmental consultancy for the past four years. My main duties in my last role centred around technical report writing and communication of sample results to prospective housing developers.

Prior to this I worked in the catering industry for a decade for a well-known and slightly less respected pub chain that shall remain unnamed! I ended my employment there after several promotions to become an Area Catering Manager overseeing eight catering units and around 150 staff in the Merseyside area. I thoroughly enjoyed some aspects of running forward-facing dynamic commercial units but during this time I strived to change career and work in a more outdoor role where rural living was a possibility. I started looking into forestry degrees but was discouraged to find that training was not available within easy reach of green and leafy Liverpool, who would have thought it?

With a young family to continue to support, any return to education would have to be done whilst also holding down a full-time job. With this in mind I enrolled on a BSc Geology Course but three months later it dawned on me that if my eyes and another rock never crossed paths again, I probably would not care too much. With this not being conducive to a career in Geology I decided to redirect my attention towards Environmental Science which I found very enjoyable. After this I enrolled on a Conservation Management and Ecology Postgraduate Certification course whilst attempting to weigh up my options. At this point I discovered a Graduate Assistant Forest Manager advert with Tilhill Forestry on social media, I dismissed it as out of reach and probably sulked at my lack of opportunity before heading off back to work to dig another soil pit!

Two weeks later, I re-discovered the same advert. Only this time I read it properly to see what exactly the pre-requisites were. To my amazement, I could apply as my degree fell into the related disciplines category! Several drafts of my application, a few months, a letter, an interview, a test and a long wait later I discovered I was fortunate enough to be offered a place as an Assistant Forest Manager. In the time since, I have moved my family to the area, we are now feeling settled and are quite at home, which is a major plus for myself and ensures the future looks bright.

Initially, my findings working for Tilhill Forestry are all positive. I know it seems the logical thing to say in a blog which is to be published on the Tilhill Forestry web site, but, it’s true! Personally, in the leadup to beginning employment I was worried and perhaps apprehensive as my forestry knowledge was limited and my role within a vocational sense had for a long time been the coach, not the coached. My concerns were not really warranted as my line manager and other forest managers in my office quickly made me feel at ease and it became obvious that there was a genuine willingness to gauge the level of existing knowledge and work with the skills I already possessed. This made me feel like a valuable team member that is actively contributing to the business, whilst imparting Tilhill Forestry’s acquired knowledge on myself in a gentle and effective way.

In my next blog I will be looking at what I have done in the first six months of my Tilhill Forestry career, including navigating my first planting season!