Name: Ciaran Campbell
From: Ballinaclash, Co Wicklow
Employer: Showjumping Ireland (SJI) in Millennium Business Park, Naas, Co Kildare
Job title: Sports Administrator
What attracted you to this job? I have always been passionate about horses and most of my choices to date (leisure, educational and career) have been horse-related. Before joining Showjumping Ireland (SJI), most of the jobs which I work in involved weekend work with very little time to focus on my own horses. Having returned back to Ireland after working in Coolmore Stud in Kentucky, USA, I was looking for something that would combine my business degree, the equine industry, while also allowing me weekends to compete and enjoy the sport. When the opportunity came up in SJI, it seemed like the perfect fit.
What’s your experience in the equestrian industry? We always had horses at home, and as a result I was riding ponies from a very early age. I was a member of the Shillelagh Pony Club and competed in show jumping, eventing, tetrathlon and pony club games up to my late teens. I also had a keen interest in racing and substituted my transition year in school with a year at the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE). It was during my time there I got work experience at Conyngham Lodge Stables, run by racing trainer Tracey Collins, which was a great experience.
After completing the course in RACE, I went back to school, completed my leaving certificate and went on to do a Bachelor of Business degree in Equine Studies in Athlone Institute of Technology and Gurteen College.
During my time in college, I completed work experience with D.M.F. Sport Horses in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, before going on to being awarded an honours business degree.
Before working with SJI, I worked in racing yards and stud farms in Ireland and then got a fantastic opportunity to work in Coolmore Stud in Kentucky which was an amazing experience from both a cultural and work experience perspective.
I particularly enjoyed working in the breeding shed where I got to work alongside some of the world’s top-class stallions including American Pharoah and Justify.
What does your role in the SJI involve?
I work very closely with the whole team in the SJI and while I am involved in all aspects of the organisation, my focus is on the pony sector, where I work with the national pony committee.
It is a very busy section and I help with organising the year’s calendar including the RDS and attend many of the finals and big events such as the national pony championships throughout the year. I also enjoy helping out with the social media channels and sponsorship.
How long have you been in this job?I started working in SJI in the summer of 2020.
What do you enjoy most about your job? The development of SJI Live has been accelerated by the pandemic whereby a lot of the traditional manual work practices have been replaced. The use of technology has improved so many aspects of running shows to the benefit of organisers and competitors.
I have been involved in suggestions for future improvements with SJI Live to help with making the running of events easier for all involved and I really enjoy this aspect of my job. The last few months I have been involved in recording videos to help our members with queries they may have. I also enjoy helping our members with any queries they have about joining the organisation.
What is the most challenging part of your job? As of all jobs there are many challenges. The office at SJI is a busy place and I started during a pandemic when a lot of change was being implemented to facilitate keeping the sport open under ever changing government guidelines.
I found the pony calendar was very condensed due to only getting pony leagues going in June due to the pandemic which meant that there was a big show on nearly every weekend.
This was very hard with logistics trying to get rugs and rosettes to venues in time for the event. Thankfully the committee that I work with are very helpful.
What advice would you give somebody looking to pursue a similar role? I have found my business degree has been a big help in most of my role. I would recommend anyone looking at pursue in a similar role to get some experience in an equine-based yard job as this was beneficial to me as I understand a lot of queries due to my experience within the industry.
I also compete in show jumping and I have found this been very beneficial as I understand the sport. You need to be adaptable.
Ciaran Campbell was in conversation with Emer Bermingham