Career Profiles: Jenny Hanafin

1. What is your name?
Jenny Hanafin

2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title
Earth Observation and Modelling Manager at TechWorks Marine, Dun Laoghaire. I manage a small team using satellite data and computer models to provide information on the ocean environment.

3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
I wanted to study Marine Science as soon as I realised I could. Then deciding to move to the US to do my PhD, where I had an amazing time, personally and profesionally. Then moving from research to a commercial job, based on my research experience.

4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My PhD advisor and various colleagues over the years – career choices are always a hot topic of discussion.

5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes! My salary is pretty good, I have opportunities to travel, and even though it’s a private company there are opportunities to keep up with research.


Questions about your current Job

6. How did you go about getting your current job?
It’s a very specialised field and I knew this company was expanding into the field so I approached them initially at a conference then followed up when I was ready.

7. Describe a typical day?
Mostly in front of the computer, analysing data, writing reports, keeping up to date. There are regular progress meetings with my team and my boss. Occasionally I go to meetings or conferences in Ireland or abroad.

8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I manage projects, so keeping people and work on track for deadlines is important. I also spend some time looking for new business or funding opportunities and writing proposals for those.

9. What are the main challenges?
Planning! Research is very different to business. When you start researching a topic, you know it could lead you anywhere and even though you have an idea how long it will take, you are always ready to be surprised. In business you need to have a much better handle of timelines and workloads in order to plan.

10. What’s cool?
I love what I do

11. What’s not so cool?
I would have preferred to stay in research/academia, but those jobs are pretty scarce.

12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
A mix of good technical skills, a wide range of experience and the ability to work with others.


Questions about education and training

13. What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Science subjects: physics, chemistry, biology and higher maths.

14. What is your education to date?
BSc in Marine Science from NUI Galway and PhD in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the University of Miami.
15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
During my PhD I had lots of opportunities to travel, to network and to find the topic I wanted to follow for my career.

16. Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I have taken many training courses in writing scientific papers, public speaking, managing teams, etc. I’m always open to learn better ways of doing things.


Questions about yourself

17. What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Getting my proposals funded.

18. What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Focus, determination and self-motivation.

19. What is your dream job?
Jacques Cousteau’s!!


Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

20. What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
A PhD is more than a qualification, who you choose as an advisor and where you choose to do it is very important, as your experience depends a great deal on them. I spent a lot of time researching universities, research groups and potential advisors before deciding and it really paid off. Once you are on your way, just keep networking! It’s as important in science as any other career.

21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Being able to learn and keep on learning, being able to work alone as well as in a team and not being afraid to take on something new.

22. What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Scientific data analysis, placement at environmental companies.


Quick Profile Questions

23. What is your star sign?
Not sure 😉

24. What is your favourite music?
World music – north African and Arabic.

25. What is your favourite film?
12 Monkeys