Two new farm managers on Skye
Congratulations to our two recently promoted farm managers on Skye, Sarah MacDonald and Darren Wilson.
Sarah is now managing the farm at Scalpay and Darren is based at Greshornish. Their stories are great examples of the career paths available here at Mowi, with both Sarah and Darren joining as farm technicians and working their way to assistant manager and farm manager positions.
Speaking about their promotions, Don MacLeod, Regional Seawater Manager, said: “I am extremely proud of Sarah and Darren, who have shown such promise and determination which has resulted in management positions on Skye. They are valued members of the team, and I am very much looking forward to seeing their continued professional development at Mowi.”
Sarah joined Mowi in 2019 starting as a farm technician in Cheesebay in North Uist. She explains: “I’m from Uist and therefore knew lots of people who worked in aquaculture, including the farm manager at Cheesebay at the time. So, I knew what was involved and thought I’d give it a go and I’ve never looked back!
“I believe that in this job you get out what you put in and I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of some great colleagues along the way. My move from Cheesebay to Loch Erisort really pushed me and prepared me for the role of assistant manager at Scalpay. Then my manager at Scalpay was very proactive in getting the assessor out so that I could complete my SVQ, and he also took the time to show me the ropes on site management and the administrative side of farming.
“It is a big jump from assistant manager to manager but it is so rewarding, especially when you see big, healthy salmon at the end of the cycle.”
Farm manager at just 26 years old and with her SVQ Level 2 in Aquaculture under her belt, Sarah is keen to encourage school pupils to consider a similar career path.
Darren had worked in various industries before joining Mowi, including the Merchant Navy, oil and gas, fishing, and construction. He was keen to find a job that could become a lifelong career. Originally from the Isle of Lewis and keen to stay in the Highlands, Darren was familiar with aquaculture and had a good friend who had become a workboat skipper at a young age.
Darren explains: “I was grateful to be given my first farm technician job at Loch Shell and enjoyed it straight away. There are so many different aspects to salmon farming, and I took a keen interest in feeding the salmon because you get a great insight into fish behaviour.
“I was lucky enough to have a very knowledgeable manager in Stewart Davidson who taught me as much as I wanted to learn and I started to look into the data behind salmon farming.
“Stewart also gave me more responsibilities and opportunities to challenge myself which led to my promotion to assistant farm manager after only two and a half years.”
Darren’s next role was assistant manager at Loch Seaforth on the Isle of Harris where he was instrumental in setting up the first 160m pens to be used in Scotland. It was here that he first worked with Don Macleod.
Darren continues: “This was a great opportunity to challenge myself, use new equipment and work under someone with such a vast knowledge of the industry. There were plenty of challenges being the first to trial the pens but also plenty of rewards. We were proud to finish the cycle and produce excellent salmon.”
His new role as farm manager at Greshornish means that Darren, his wife and 11-month-old son, have relocated to the Isle of Skye. He is ready for any challenges and is looking forward to all aspects of the role including logistical planning and data analysis.
Darren is keen to help others progress their career at Mowi: “I honestly believe a career in aquaculture with Mowi is an excellent opportunity for young people. Mowi provides excellent training and if you want to take on more responsibility and challenge yourself you can. There are several different career paths in aquaculture from management or skippering a workboat or working in the fish health team. Whichever path you take can lead to a rewarding career; I only wish I’d started my journey in the industry earlier.”