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UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science Alumni Profile

School of Agriculture and Food Science Alumni Profile

Eoin Lowry Alum 2001 is standing in a green field

Eoin Lowry

Name: Eoin Lowry

UCD Education: BAgrSc 2001, MAgrSc 2003, MBA 2008

From a tillage farming background, Eoin graduated from UCD with a BAgrSc in 2001. After completing a MAgrSc in 2003, he began his career with a French fertilizer company gaining international agribusiness experience. In 2008, he graduated with an MBA from UCD Smurfit School of Business.

Eoin joined Bank of Ireland in 2020 as Head of Agri, to support the Bank’s growth strategy in the county’s largest indigenous industry. He draws on his commercial and international experience in the sector to provide insights into global agriculture and how they impact farming, food and agribusiness in Ireland.

He has held a number of senior commercial positions in the agri sector in Ireland and abroad, including Managing Director of a leading fertilizer importer and manufacturer. His knowledge base extends across globally traded agri-commodities and includes driving productivity, managing volatility, adding value and developing business. He has provided extensive insight and analysis on the sector writing extensively on the subject as former Agribusiness Editor with the Irish Farmers Journal. He is also a past president of the Agricultural Science Association and the Irish Fertilizer Marketing Association.

What led you to study Agriculture? 

I come from a tillage farming background in Ratheniska, Co. Laois (site of the Ploughing Championships). I was very involved in the family farm from a young age, driving tractors etc., so I developed a passion for farming. I did Ag Science in school and when it came to the CAO it was a no-brainer. It was the only thing I wanted to study.

I was always very active with my father going to IFA events, working with the advisors who used to come out and walk the crops on our farm – I really liked what they were doing so I wanted to follow that career path and that led me to doing Agricultural Science in UCD. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying Agriculture? 

First and foremost, you need a strong passion for the subject, which goes without saying for most paths of study. Secondly, keep an open mind around new ways of farming and innovations. The sector is going to have to change in the next 20 years, and if I look back to what I studied, I’d nearly have to unlearn some of that now and learn the new ways that farmers will need to farm in the future.

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCD? 

Without a doubt, it’s the friends that I made – deep and lifelong friendships were formed during my time at UCD. We’ve all gone through the industry at the same time and that really helps me in my role today, knowing that I have a strong support network.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

This is a tough one. When I look back on my career it was never a straight line. I try to go into a company or a business and work for a period of time, bring it to the next level, put my stamp on it and leave a mark. So, I suppose when I look back on my career, I’d like to think I’ve left a mark no matter where I’ve worked.

One of my most interesting positions was in the Farmers’ Journal as Agri Business Editor – I believe I wrote challenging and balanced articles that investigated different areas of the Agri sector in Ireland. I’d like to think those hard-hitting stories and analysis delivered something for Irish farmers in the longer term. 

What have been the most challenging aspects of your career?

When I worked in the grain and fertiliser industry for close on 10 years, I’d moved to the top of the company I was working for at the time (Target Fertilisers) as MD. I came to a point where I asked myself “Where next?” – do I move sideways into another fertiliser company, or do I move abroad? That was a decision point as the industry in Ireland is small, but the career path progression was international.

I really had to make a very hard call whether I wanted to go into a global role or put down roots in Ireland. It was a difficult decision, but my advice to anyone in a similar position is that no decision is a wrong decision.

I didn’t go abroad in the end, but I took 6 months out as a career break to figure out where I wanted to go next. I’d say while it was a difficult decision to make, it was the best thing I did for me and also my career. It was challenging because of the expectation that you’re supposed to have a career path with no gaps on the CV. But I would say don’t worry about that, it does work out. You have to remain open-minded, meet lots of people, and be true to yourself as to what you want. Don’t be afraid of the gaps if you need them!

Describe your typical work day as Head of Agriculture at the Bank of Ireland.

It’s a very exciting role which I really love. My role is to be the face of the Bank in the Agri sector, but also be the face of the Agri sector in the Bank. So I bring the issues, challenges and opportunities that present themselves in the sector into the Bank, so we can develop products for our customers.

My day might involve meeting the Board and the CEO, all the way to calling out to a farmer to get a deal across the line; engaging with farmer organisations, and the Department (of Agriculture); designing products - for example, sustainability-linked loans for farmers (sustainability is a key part of the Bank’s focus and strategy).

So it’s a very diverse role – it’s really fast-paced and exciting, and it’s a great organisation with 10,000 employees. I also get to travel and talk at international conferences about the sector in Ireland too, so it takes me to new places too.

In your career and/or personal life, who have been the most inspiring or helpful mentors/advisors that you’ve had to date?

Great question. At different stages in my career I had different advisors, but if I look back to key ones, certain lecturers in UCD were great mentors to me when I graduated, and I tapped into them when I left. For example, Paddy Barry who was my supervisor when I did my Masters. Also, Dermot Ruane was key when I had a decision to make about going back to upskill in business because I had done Agricultural Crop Production (ACP). I reached out to him and he mentioned doing an MBA – I didn’t even know what an MBA was at that stage!

Right now, I have a small group of coaches and mentors that I tap into as I require them – everything from public speaking to policies to advice. I meet a lot of people for coffee, which I think is a key part of informing myself in a safe and trusted environment with trusted advisors. It’s a two-way process, and I also do it for others – I coach a number of Ag graduates who reach out to me, which comes from being part of the Farmers’ Journal back in the day.

Having obtained a Bachelors and a Masters in Agriculture in UCD, as well as an MBA from the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, how has ongoing professional development helped your career?

I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning. Today, I’m 22 years graduated and I’m still in education. I’m doing a sustainability course with the Irish Management Institute (IMI), and I’m also on a Future Business Leader course with Bank of Ireland. That has always been the case in my career, and I firmly believe it’s necessary as we live in a dynamic world where you always need to stay on top of the changes that are happening. 

What do you do to relax? Tell us a bit about your current life, family and hobbies. 

I’m not a big sporting person – my golf is working on the farm! I spend my summers on a harvester cutting corn. I have a Bernese mountain dog called Omar and I walk him most days, I also like listening to podcasts. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

For me, it’s to stay curious and have an open mind. Also, travel broadens the mind. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to travel to the four corners of the world, and that has always fed my insights into the global agri-food system, along with my own personal life journey, bringing me to places that I otherwise would have never got to see. 

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UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science

Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
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