EurGeol of the month: Niall McManus

“European Geologist of the month” is a section of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we have talked to Niall McManus, member of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland (IGI). 

EurGeol Niall McManus PGeo, holds a primary degree in geology and has over 20 years experience in Ireland, South East Asia, North America, southern and East Africa, working within both private industry and central government. Mr McManus has an M.Sc. in Mineral Economics from the Colorado School of Mines, USA, where he received a Coultard Fellowship.

In 2008 he received a Level 1 Award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for his ReEnPower project for promoting the adoption of energy efficiency technology, resource efficiency, and small-scale renewable energy while empowering communities. ReEnPower has established Cosain, a Domestic Offset Market in Ireland for trading Irish originated carbon and biodiversity credits with Irish buyers.

Niall has been appointed twice by the Irish High Court as the Expert to oversee the environmental rehabilitation of unauthorised developments in the extractive industry (2009 – 2014).

He is an expert evaluator for ERA-MIN Joint Call on Sustainable Supply of Raw Materials in Europe. ERA-MIN is a network of European organisations owning and/or managing research programs on raw materials. He is assisting the European Commission as an independent expert with research and innovation assignments including the evaluation of proposals and the review of projects in the area of Horizon2020 EU Programmes (2014 – 2017).

Niall represents the Environmental Pillar on the Kilkenny Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) as part of the Public Participation Network, of which he also represents the Environmental Pillar on the Plenary Secretariat.

He has been involved in the program development and evaluation of initiatives in both the public and private sector, together with the For Impact Sector in Climate Action.

Niall McManus

EurGeol title number: 247
Country: Ireland
In which country do you currently work? – Ireland
In which field of geology do you work? –  Engineering geology/Geological heritage/Countryside recreation

How would you explain to the average person what geology is and why it is important? – Geology contributes to the delivering of many of the essential services and products we take for granted daily. Such as, the provision of energy through both fossil fuels and renewable sources. In the construction of transport infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, by the provision of the raw materials and the knowledge of the subsurface to ensure safe designs. Most the components found in consumer electronics, smartphones to dishwashers, including the china clay for the pottery that is put into the dishwasher, and finding the water to wash the pottery, required the skills of a geologist to source them.

What inspired you to become a geologist? – I was brought up in Kenya, and my first memories are of the majesty of East African Rift System, and from an early age I have been fascinated by Earth processes.

Have you been a geologist all your life? If not, what other job(s) have you done? – I have worked in Investment Banking, and tourism.

In which sector(s) did/do you work? – Mineral Exploration (Au, Zn, Pb, Cu), Government – Geological Survey, Industrial Minerals & Geotechnical, Technical Expert to the European Commission

What do you currently do in your job? Could you describe an average day? – Management: My career is less technical now, and more concentrated on managing systems, liaising with clients, building a sales pipeline and motivating staff.

What’s your favourite part of your job? – Wining and retaining clients as it reflects on the quality of the service we provide.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a geologist? – In the early 90’s in a remote part of Vietnam where I was the only Westerner allowed enter the area. When walking through a village I was asked to help care for a baby badly burnt having fallen into a fire. I cleaned and bandaged the wounds, leaving my first aid kit behind with instructions on procedures. 3 weeks later I came back through the village, was introduced to a smiling baby and asked to join the family for a meal as a thank you.

Could you explain when and why you applied for the European Geologist title? – Upon returning to Europe in the 2000’s I wanted my skills and expertise recognized and the removal of any barriers to me working across Europe.

Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us about your experiences abroad? – My career began on the Witwatersrand where I learnt many of the fundamentals of the mining industry. Invaluable experience was gained with the Namibian Geological Survey in understanding the processes of Government, and the needs of mining and exploration companies. With the Geological Survey, I gained technical expertise in African Proterozoic, which has served my career ever since. Further experience was gained in both junior and senior mining companies in East and Central Africa. Brief periods were spent working in Mexico and Vietnam.

What are your professional projects/ aspirations in the future? – My future is no longer field-orientated as a profession. My current project is focused on improving methods to share important information throughout organisations to help in decision making.

There are fewer women working in geology than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in geology? – The challenges facing a woman in the work place are no different in Geology than any other career.  Geology provides the opportunity to pursue a career in research and industry in the fields of environment, technology, government, and also to be an entrepreneur.

Why should young people consider a career in geosciences? – You get training in an analytical, mathematical, quantative, qualitative, field-orientated discipline which helps develop an enquiring mind. This will serve you well as your career changes through both necessity and choice, within the sector or totally unrelated fields.

What kind of personal qualities do you need as a geoscientist? – A career in geoscience begins with field work, and you must enjoy working outside. Perseverance and self-reliance are required by the very nature of subject matter where you may sometimes find yourself in places that can be physically and emotionally challenging. This may be on a building site or in a remote jungle.  These challenges bring the enjoyment of identifying problems and delivering solutions to whatever the natural environment presents.  

What does the European Federation of Geologists represent for you and what do you expect from our association? – Recognition of my skills and experience, which is validated by my peers.

Why does it matter to have a European, cross-border community of geologists? – The sharing of skills and knowledge is essential for progress.

To know you a little better: What do you like to do in your spare time? – I am a campanologist (bell ringer), and a keen sportsman with horse riding, kayaking and mountain biking being my active sports.

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