the people who make it all happen
Our people are our biggest asset. We’ve put together a tight team of the best and brightest, from industry experts to brand new talent. Recipe tasters, trend makers, product gurus, masters of technical excellence...we’re all united by our love of food. Together, it’s the perfect synergy of expertise and creativity.
We’ve all come from across the globe and found our way to County Wexford, Ireland. Learn a little more about our stories below.
Anne Smyth, Managing Director
“One of the most important things I’ve learned is never to stand still. We’re on a constant journey of discovery at Drover Foods, every day is different - just the way I like it”
My passion for food began back in the mid 80s. A summer spent packing cooked streaky bacon gave me my first taste of the fast paced world of food production - I was hooked!
I combined a natural flair for science and maths with my growing food obsession and completed Food Science & Technology at UCC. My studies took me from the Rebel County to the Great Lakes of Michigan. I fell in love with the US, for me it really was the ultimate melting pot of cuisine and culture.
One PhD and a Post Doctorate later, I moved back to Ireland to take up a lecturing post but I yearned for the cut and thrust of the commercial world. I cut my teeth at Dew Valley Foods developing innovative new products with some of the industry’s biggest brands - Burger King, Samworths, Northern, Greencore, EAT and Greggs.
In the mid 2000s I returned to my home in County Wexford to join my Dad at Drover Foods. Since then I’m proud to have grown alongside the company’s significant success. We’ve doubled our sales in the last three years and are privileged to partner with some of the biggest blue-chip customers in the UK. As well as being Mum to two soccer crazy boys, it’s my job to focus on driving our shared vision - to constantly find fresh new ways to excite the market.
Jerry Bernard, Irish Sales Manager
“I’m a farmer’s son from south Cork, so it’s no surprise that food has always been close to my heart.”
A love of the land inspired me to study Food Science at UCC. Then wanderlust took me to Saudi Arabia where I started my career in food. But the lure of the Emerald Isle was too much to resist and I made my way back to Ireland after some time in the UK.
I made Wexford my home and I haven’t looked back. My journey with Drover Foods has been a rollercoaster. I’ve seen it transform from a small indigenous company, producing fresh sausages for the local community in Wexford town, to its current position as a key partner to some of the biggest global brands.
Lynn Gage, Innovation Consultant
“I can’t stop thinking about food! Whether it’s the ocean view from my kitchen window or the seductive aromas of London’s street food stalls, I get so much inspiration no matter where I go.”
After finishing my Home Economics Degree in Glasgow (yes I really am that old!), I quickly realised that food manufacturing opportunities were slim in Scotland for a hungry graduate, so I packed my bags and moved south!
From Geest to Samworths I gained invaluable experience with some of the industry’s heaviest hitters, where I got the chance to work on in a range of products from ready meals to dressings, sandwiches and salads. This gave me great exposure to customers and suppliers around the globe. But most importantly it opened my eyes to a world of amazing food styles and cuisines.
While in Wexford (one of the prettier places to do a supplier visit!) I met Drover Foods and the rest is history. I work on innovation, putting passion and fun into exciting new food products.
Léan O’Connor, NPD Manager
“My journey to a career in the food industry definitely took the scenic route but I’ve finally arrived and the view couldn’t be better!”
I’ve always loved animals, from working on a small cattle farm as a kid, where I kept my pet horse, to spending weekends and school holidays on my grandparent’s dairy farm.
After graduating from UCC with a BSc in Zoology I took a breather to decide what direction my career should take. It was while working part time in a local hotel that I discovered my obsession for food. I immersed myself in menu development, ingredient sourcing and constantly badgered the chefs for information - my fate was sealed!
I completed a Master’s Degree in Food Science & Technology, then my horse and I packed our bags and moved to the sunny south-east to begin our respective careers in new product development and hay eating.
What I love about my role in Drover Foods is that I get the chance to work closely with our partners in a fast paced, highly creative environment.
Ciaran Kelly, Production Manager
“As a proud Wexford man who had never actually worked in the county, I jumped at the chance to join the team at Drover Foods. It’s a role that’s as rewarding as it is challenging - the perfect recipe for success.”
From Kerry Foods to Guinness to Glanbia, I’ve been privileged to hone my skills with some of the world’s most iconic brands. I’ve always had a fascination for production processes so after starting my journey with Kerry Foods, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to build on my experience with a role in Diageo.
They say that Guinness is good for you and it certainly was for me! My focus was on continuous improvement and lean manufacturing - skills that are very much part of our own production process. I made the move to pharma but my passion has always been for the food industry. In fact it brought me to my current role here in Drover Foods.
A constant drive for improvement is what really makes me tick. Because being in control of every step of the process means that we can be fast, flexible and agile - just what our clients want.
Lee-Anne O’Keeffe, Technical Manager
“More than 10 years on and two kids later, I feel just as fresh and excited as I did when I started on day one. I love working for this company in a place I call home!”
As the daughter of a South Wexford farmer, I grew up amidst agriculture, home baking and fresh produce – so a love of food comes as no surprise. A BSc in Quality Management and Applied Biology piqued my curiosity even more so – could I make a career of my natural passion? By the time I completed my MSc in Food Business at UCC, I knew I could!
From my time as a fledgling quality assurance officer to my promotion to the role of technical manager, my experience at Kerry Foods provided an invaluable opportunity to gain technical insight and knowledge from field to fork. In 2006, I returned home for a golden opportunity - joining the team at Drover Foods. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, but the great core values it instills into its people have stayed the same.
Michael Cody, Financial Director
“Joining the team in 2005 was a game changer. Everyone is so passionate - our love of food and customer focus drives us to go beyond expectations. It makes coming to work every day challenging but very enjoyable.”
Growing up on a family farm in Tipperary means that farming, food and a strong work ethic have always been in my blood. With a natural flair for numbers, I qualified as an accountant and once London beckoned, I spent 12 years in the world of investment banking.
I rented a room there from a Wexford accountant. While he overcharged me on the rent, he made it up to me when he introduced me to his sister. Bridget (also an accountant) and I were married soon after. The year 2005 was exceptional for me personally and professionally - I joined Drover Foods in September and my first daughter Ella was born just one month later. We now have three girls and a boy, a very busy and happy household.
Rob Kemp, Sales & Business Development Manager
“When I joined the team I soon realised they shared my passion for insight and innovation. It’s such a bonus for me to know that I’m presenting customers with products that are not only right for today, but will enhance their businesses tomorrow!”
Growing up in a family kitchen where Delia Smith was queen, my parents always encouraged us to get involved. From aromatic Christmas cakes to giant yorkshire puddings and exciting winter warmers, I was exposed to the complexities of cooking from an early age. This built a confidence and love of flavour that’s since spurred me on to pursue a career in food and drink.
My first taste of the industry was as a fresh-faced, eager graduate, working with Northern Foods on retailer accounts in the prepared salads and food-to-go categories. My journey then took me to the world of wine, then to cooked meats with a move to Dawn Farms. It was here that I discovered my passion for the consumer behavioural element – combining business development with a deep-dive into trends and insights. What influences the consumer to buy? What’s the next hot topic? How can we tempt the flexitarian? What’s the difference between eating al fresco and al desko?
I’m delighted to be part of Drover’s UK team, building on an already fantastic customer base. Getting right into the consumers’ needs and desires lets us add real value through food innovation that’s aligned with changing trends and behaviour. Being based over in the UK’s midlands comes with its pros and cons – excellent networking, tons of local customers but sadly, poor sporting teams...with the exception of Northampton Saints on some rare occasions!
Pat Smyth, Chairman
“Family has always meant so much to me. As well as my wife, four children, seven grandsons and one granddaughter I’m also lucky to have the company of the extended Drover Foods family close by.”
Born into a farming family in Co Carlow, I studied Agricultural Science in UCD. A scholarship took me to California where I gained a PhD, a beautiful wife and a little baby boy! After spending a free-spirited six months exploring the States in a camper van, I had a longing to bring my young family back to Ireland. On my return, I briefly flirted with academia but found the world of business much more thrilling and challenging.
From my very first job, 50 years ago in Hanley’s of Rooskey, I’ve been privileged to be part of the evolution of the food/meat industry in Ireland and of Drover Foods. It has really been a remarkable journey in a relatively short period of time, with many twists and turns along the way, from meat price cycles, to currency fluctuations and brand new innovations. I am now retired from most day to day activities in the business, but love coming into the factory on a daily basis to continue to see the changes...and offer my advice when asked!
Our team in action...