In September 2007, as a fresh university graduate, I embarked on a brave new journey into the working world. 10 years on I look back on a decade of working in the energy industry and reflect on 10 key lessons that I will be taking into the next decade of my career.
When I graduated from City University in 2006 with a first-class degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was full of ideas, energy (excuse the pun) and excitement as to what the future would hold. Having climbed the career ladder going from graduate to post graduate, followed by achieving chartered status and most recently being awarded an MBE it’s been a challenging, educational and rewarding journey. Here are 10 lessons I believe have been the secret to my success.
1. Communicate your aspirations
From the outset, I was ambitious, hungry to learn and keen to make a difference within the energy industry. I made my passion known and that’s why I believe so many people were willing to help me reach my goals.
2. Be comfortable in your own skin
Being a young, female, engineer in a male dominated sector, I often felt like I didn’t really belong there. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that being different was what made me more employable and allowed me to add more value – the voices of not belonging were in my head only and nobody else’s!
3. Don’t be afraid to shine
Quite early on in my career, I was being recognised for my achievements by colleagues, by the industry and by journalists. I was of course humbled, but also found it all a little embarrassing. I was worried people would mistake it as arrogance, but soon realised the importance of sharing my story and the growing need for female role models.
4. Shine a light on others
When I understood the platform that the above recognition put me on, I was keen for others to also experience this. With recognition comes confidence, motivation to be more and to do more and it’s a validation of your achievements. It doesn’t have to be in the form of an award, it can be as simple as a thank you in front of peers/colleagues
5. Plan ahead
This is not often an easy task, I struggled to find the time to set goals, but it was such a worthwhile annual exercise. I listed a 1, 3 and 5 year personal and professional plan (because the two are often intertwined). It helped me to set direction and allowed me to pursue experiences that ultimately got me to where I wanted to be.
6. Mentor and be mentored
A different perspective can do wonders. I’ve had mentors throughout my career and their advice has been invaluable. They have the ability to listen and unlock potential in a way you just can’t achieve on your own. By mentoring others, I too was able to help shape careers and impart knowledge which felt very rewarding.
7. Network for the right reasons
It’s amazing just how much more can be achieved through the power of kindness, collaboration and networking. For me, it’s important to network for the right reasons, not to sell but instead to build authentic relationships. These relationships could open doors of opportunity for either party!
8. Find your balance
My commitments outside of the day job were what helped me to be a more rounded individual at work. I would take at least 2 hours of my working week to focus on me and my development. Be it attending an event, doing some outreach work or participating in a community event. I always knew being tied down to an inflexible job wasn’t for me and worked hard to strike the balance.
9. Never stop learning
As soon as we leave university we tend to ditch structured learning and put our development in the hands of our employers. Whilst experience can speak volumes, keeping abreast of academic advancements is also key. It was important for me to continue professional development, which I did through courses at the Energy Institute.
10. You don’t have to be old to be experienced
Credibility is key in a technical sector. Often it’s assumed that with age comes experience. But throughout my career I worked at pace, took in information like a sponge and had just as much knowledge as my counterparts who had been in energy longer than I had been alive. Be confident in your knowledge, learn from those around you and combine these to truly add value.
Over the last 10 years the energy industry has transformed. I’m so excited to see what the next decade holds and I hope I can continue to serve the industry that has nurtured me for so long!