Hear from our graduates

Hear From Our Grads

Energy Networks Graduates

Robin Struebig - Trainee, Networks

Robin Struebig

Why SSE?
As an electrical engineer specialised in power engineering SSE and the Transmission business was one of the obvious choices for me. With our network stretching even into the most remote parts of the country there are possibilities to visit places you would have never thought about before. While each single component we are working with is rather simple compared with a wind turbine. It’s the combination and interaction of these components that makes the network to a live organism that reacts to every event would that be switching or a lightning strike.

Placements throughout your programme
During the two year program I will undergo a total of five placements. The original plan was set out at the beginning of the program and included Commissioning, Construction, Design, Operations and Trans Ops. At the moment I am thinking about changing the last placement to spend a bit of time in our network control room. 

Senior mentors/influencers?
At the beginning of my time as a graduate I was given a mentor, a line manager and a business sponsor. Both mentor and business sponsor are senior engineers whiles the line manager is from the corporate site. The three are looking after your progress and are always happy to talk about what YOU want to do next or what you intent to do during a placement. 

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on
During the first year I was involved in the construction of a 132 kV cable circuit as part of the Beauly Denny project and the build of the second biggest substation in Europe which is currently under construction in the north of Scotland. 

Generally what you think of the programme so far and how you feel it will benefit you
The programme is made to ease you into the company and give you a good overview of what different parts are doing. This gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of different persons and personalities all over the country. You are expected to properly contribute to the company from the second year onwards but even then you always have someone to give you a hand in case help is needed. At the end of the program you will have a network of people and a broad knowledge of the engineering business within SSE which is a good base to build your career on.

In addition to these questions if you could include a personal testimonial, sharing something about what you have achieved or what the opportunity means to you for example that would be great.
Working for SSE gives me the opportunity to put my gained knowledge to the test and rub against knowledgeable engineers in both design and operational aspects during the graduate program it gives me a direction and tasks to work on. But also leaves freedom to further explore in-depth technical aspects of system components and behaviours. Sitting right at the source of information about our grid for me this means the opportunity of a lifetime to deepen my understanding of power grid operations and finding my place within the industry.

I’d be very keen to get something from you on your business area, our graduate applications are heavily geared towards wholesale (in the region of 70%)  How would you sell/perceive your side of the business to a potential graduate?

A lot of young folk coming from university these days’ thing renewables is the way to go as it is “the future”. They give the opportunity to jump into a new business where the new generation of engineers has a chance of a “fresh start” to generate their own knowledge base. This might be true thinking about the generation side with the big thermal plant being phased out and replaced. The change that is going on in the networks side of the business however is even bigger. We are going from a network that has simply been build to be stable during maximum load times to a grid that has to be even more flexible than the generation. While ten years ago when demand reduced at night we simply shut down a few gas power plants and ramped down coal and in the morning ramped them back up. Now if a wind turbine doesn’t have wind over the day it just doesn’t work. It is then up to the grid to change its properties and setup to accommodate for this loss and collect the energy from somewhere else. If during the night the demand is low we have to switch in new and complicated tools in order to control the voltage which wasn’t needed before due to above mentioned control over large thermal plants and their proximity to the load centres. So if you want to start your carrier journey in a new and changing environment networks is as much as choice as the renewables. And to be totally honest who knows if renewables are still a thing in 30 years (fusion)? But networks will always be there, everywhere.

Alan Brown Trainee Engineer, Networks

IMG_3641

Why SSE?

Studying “Electrical Power Engineering” at university, I had a keen interest in the power industry and planned to begin my career at one of the UK’s Distribution Network Operators DNO’s. 

Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SHEPD) have one of the most unique and challenging electricity networks in the world and I felt this would be an ideal company to work for and develop my engineering skills.

Another reason for choosing SSE was down to their accredited and well structured graduate scheme. Leaving university and starting my professional career was a daunting prospect so I wanted to bridge the gap between academic life and real life working. The graduate scheme is a perfect way of introducing students into a working environment.

Senior mentors/influencers?

Ammad Zulfikar (Lead System Planning and Investment Engineer)

Adam Bain (System Planning and Investment Engineer, also previous SSE graduate)

Mark Smith (Head of Planning and Investment (North), 40 years experience at SSE)

Andrew Robertson (Head of Operational Technology)

Mark Kelly (Head of Project Assure)

Neil Sandison (Head of Transmission Control Centre)

Each of these individuals has influenced the projects and tasks I have worked on over the past year of the programme.  

What I have noticed about SSE is that everyone is willing to help out if you have any queries or issues.  Even if they do not know the answer, they will pass you on to someone who will. Creating a network on contacts I would say is one of the most important objectives throughout the graduate scheme.

Placements throughout your programme

System Planning/Investment Management

System Planning investigates how alterations will affect the performance of the existing network. These alterations can vary from future reinforcements to added generation. Essentially, if there is a planned change to the existing distribution network whether it be load or non load related, future reinforcements, connections etc.  , System Planning will assess the feasibility of these changes and report the results along with the associated costs. 

The team will put forward suggested improvements to the network with an overview of the work and costs required to ensure security of supply.  In addition to this, System Planning is also responsible for keeping a record of the entire 33kV network.

Network Planning 

The Network Planning team, much like System Planning, are responsible for the safe running of the existing network taking into account new generation, load increases and ageing equipment. With System Planning taking ownership of the 33kV network, Network planning similarly takes ownership of the 11kV network.

Design Team (Major Projects)

My second placement in SSEPD was within the Major Projects – Design Team. The design team are responsible for taking projects from the System Planners at the end of Q1 (Planning Stage), and carrying it through until the end of Q2 (Design Stage). The Design team then pass on the project onto the field unit in Q3 (Construction Stage). They are responsible for the detailed design of the project which could range from the layout and costs of a full new substation or perhaps the cable route of new subsea cables. 

Investment Delivery (South Caledonia)

This placement is more site based rather than office based. This is a 6 month placement with the investment delivery team within Tayside & Central and Argyll & West regions.

I plan to use this placement to develop my understanding of the distribution network from visual and practical learning. This will give me the opportunity to observe the delivery side of the projects I have been planning within my investment management process.

I have been in this placement for two weeks but have already got a better understanding of overhead line construction from the Air Break replacement project.

I feel this may be the most important placement for distribution graduates coming from university as they will have little knowledge or experience of the distribution network.   

These placements have been structured to give me an idea of the overall lifecycle of a project through planning, design and delivery.

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on

Mainland – Jura Subsea Cable protection

In June 2014, one of SHEPD’s 33kV subsea cables failed between the mainland and the Isle of Jura. After 23 years of service, the failure left customers being supplied via back-up power generation in Bowmore, Islay. 

SHEPD agreed with Marine Scotland to replace the cable end to end along the existing route and provide cable protection down to the 50m contour. I was involved in discussions between SHEPD and our subsea contractor Briggs Marine to determine our options for subsea cable protection.

The methods we chose were Mass Flow Excavation (MFE) and Concrete Matteressing. MFE is similar to a large blower which buries the cable by blowing away the seabed sediment. In rocky and harder areas, the concrete mattresses would be used to cover the cable, protecting it from anchors etc.

I also got the chance to oversee part of the concrete matteressing works in April 2016. For this I was put on a sea survival course by the business to ensure I had basic survival techniques in the water. I then went out with my colleague James Tarrant to witness the work taking place by Briggs Marine.

With subsea cables being somewhat of a niche area of engineering, I feel lucky to be involved in such an interesting project on the graduate programme.

Project Assure

Project Assure was a business critical project set up by SSEPD to assure the additions, disposals and refurbishment of distribution assets due to asset health over the price control review  (DPCR5) between 2010/11 and 2014/15.  This was part of our annual regulatory reporting submissions to Ofgem.

The consequences of not completing data assurance reports for Ofgem would guarantee a breach of our licence condition and could have led to severe fines for the company. In addition, if we had over estimated the work carried out within DPCR5 then that would of affected our current price control RIIO-ED1 and again the company could of been faced with losing out on money or heavy fines.

I joined a small project team from SHEPD led by Mark Kelly in Perth. The team was made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds including, engineering, finance, regulation and policy. I aided in the completion of 31 distribution asset assurance reports split between the North and South regions of SSEPD.

Working on this project allowed me to understand how a business critical project such as this works along with developing my team working skills under pressure from time constraints.

Programme thoughts:

I feel the graduate programme has been a great way of introducing me into a professional engineering career. 

The programme is structured in a way which allows me to not only learn how the network business works but also to create and expand a network of contacts which will prove crucial in the success of my engineering career. 

Making the most of the time within the programme is vital as you may not get the chance to be a part of a wide range of engineering projects again. 

As much as the graduate programme at SSE is structured to give you a broad understanding of the business, I feel the most important component to your success is your ability to immerse yourself in as much as possible over the two years.

There is enough flexibility in the programme to allow you to venture out and be exposed to areas of your own interests. I have been lucky enough to be a part of several interesting projects throughout my first year on the programme. 

Many of these projects are vital to the compliance of SHEPD’s licence agreements with Ofgem and other parties. Being part of such projects will prove valuable in pushing for my chartered engineer status in future.

Why Power distribution?

In distribution, graduates will be able to get involved in a wide range of projects across the North of Scotland. One of the most appealing aspects of the distribution graduate scheme for me was the opportunity to see a project all the way through the planning, design and construction phases.

A transmission project for example could last 8 years, so graduates may find themselves scratching the surface of the overall picture. In distribution however, graduates are able to completely immerse themselves in the project and form an overall understanding of all aspects.

Adam McConkey - Networks

Mc Conkey

Why SSE?
During my time at University I developed an interest in the energy sector. SSE attracted me as it has a diverse portfolio of generation and networks jobs; I felt that the company would offer a good range of development opportunities and progression later in my career.

Placements throughout your programme
I work for the networks business based in the South of England. I began my programme in the asset management and innovation team, their objective is to introduce new technologies into business as usual. I followed this with Strategic Investment who are responsible for upkeep of the network on an asset and load related basis. I began in system planning where the network is assessed and projects are originated. I then moved into design, where the ideas are taken and developed into deliverable projects. My next placement was with delivery where you manage financial spending and site works of a project. These placements took me through the full project process. During this time I also had placements with operational teams in the depot and field unit. Out with the Strategic Investment project process I also undertook shorter placements with commercial, transmission, control and the SHE team.  

Senior mentors/influencers
On arrival at the company I was appointed a mentor to help me towards my chartership. The SSE graduate scheme is accredited by the IET and IMechE which is a big benefit when working towards professional registration. My mentor has been an excellent help in structuring placements and offering advice. All my placement mangers have been accommodating and always made time to assist me with my work. It is an area I would praise the programme on, that managers even though busy will make time for trainees.  

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on
Throughout my programme I have been keen to take on as much responsibility of projects as possible. Within SSEPD I have been given the opportunity to work as the main engineer on several projects with the support of a senior engineer to validate decisions. In system planning I undertook connection requests and constraint managed zones planning. In design I completed a 132kV cable design and procured required materials. In my operational placements I have attained my LV and permit holder authorisations with my 11kV switcher assessment coming up.

Generally what you think of the programme so far and how you feel it will benefit you
I have enjoyed my programme; it requires self motivation to engage with managers and organise placements that will develop your skills the most, I have benefited form the freedom to tailor the programme to my strengths while receiving guidance from my mentor. Having now moved into my substantive role with the Strategic Investment Field unit I am already benefiting from the programme. I am currently managing a cable fault that encompasses all the skills I have gathered around system planning, design and delivery. Furthermore I have built up a wealth of contacts in the business.

James McPhillimy - Trainee Engineer, Networks

James McP

I joined SHE Transmission because it’s an exciting, growing business with great opportunities for Graduate Engineers of any discipline.  Over the past 2 years, I worked in Engineering design, Transmission Operations, SSE Power Distribution Operations and Transmission Large Capital Projects. I’ve been fortunate to work with some very experienced engineers and Senior Authorised People during my Graduate Programme. Andrew Malkin (Director of Major Projects SSE Enterprise) is my IMechE mentor and helping me gain chartered engineer status.  

I have worked on the Blackhillock Redevelopment Project for the past 12 months. This is a new-build substation project, and the first part of the Caithness-Moray project to be energised in September 2016. I’m currently working in the Commissioning Team, ensuring the substation is built + tested correctly and fit for handover to Transmission Operations.

I feel fortunate to have gained site experience on a flagship project for SHE Transmission, and it has been extremely beneficial for my development.  I am very satisfied with the programme. It has been challenging, but also very rewarding. I feel like I have learnt a lot in very short space of time, and I am excited to put what I’ve learnt into practise in a new role in the business later this year.  

I chose the Networks side of the business as it is a good learning environment for a developing engineer. In my 2 years, I have gained hands-on experience of construction, project and operational work, and management. Getting such a good balance of all the above helps you learn lots of practical skills in a number of areas and boosts your development towards chartership. 

Generation and Renewables Graduates

Caroline Carslaw - Engineer, Generation - Winner: Rising Star Award (Utility Week)

Caroline Carslaw

Why SSE

I had a summer placement with the Engineering Centre during my 4th year at University. After my 12 weeks with the Pressure Parts team, I was offered a place on the Graduate Programme on completion of my Master’s degree. I had really enjoyed my time at SSE so I happily accepted the position. 

Placements so far

My first placement on the programme was back with the Pressure Parts team. During my three months with this team, I was able to contribute to a number of projects, including the development of a Fatigue Life Consumption Model, a Weld Inspection Schedule for Peterhead Power Station and an Engineering Assessment and Future Strategy for Cold Formed Bends at Tarbert Power Station. I was also able to visit a number of sites which greatly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of thermal generation. 

I spent my second placement with the Renewables Development Onshore Wind team. Although my degree is in Mechanical Engineering, I decided to work with the Electrical team for a broader view of the business area and increase my knowledge of electrical systems. This placement was centred round the design and development of future wind farms, so both technical and commercial decisions had to be considered, which was beneficial for my personal development. The work I contributed to included devising cable layouts, single line diagrams and reactive power calculations for potential new sites.

My next placement was with the Hydro Maintenance Team based at Clunie. This placement was ideal for getting exposure to outages, maintenance activities and SSE Safe Systems of Work at various hydro stations in the Tummel and Breadalbane schemes. As well as helping at the various outages, I aided in the development of a Risk Based Inspection approach for accumulators and also started an inspection schedule for high pressure flexible hoses on the governor and jacking systems for use on all sites. 

Currently, I am based at Great Island Power Station in Co. Wexford, Ireland. I will be based here for 3 months, undertaking preparatory works before the upcoming outage in October. I am really enjoying the exposure to thermal generation once more, this time in a more practical and operational sense. The outage will allow me to gain responsibility for specific projects to be completed and I am already liaising with contractors during the planning stages. 

Your thoughts on the Programme

The real selling point of the Graduate Scheme for me is the fact that Generation Graduates can, within reason, choose their placements to allow them to get as much or as little exposure to different business areas as they would like. This has been great for me, as I would like to experience as much of the generation business as I can over the 2 year programme. SSE is also very keen for graduates to become chartered with their respective institutions within 4-5 years of starting with the company, so a lot of support is available to help with this. Each graduate is assigned a mentor, a business sponsor and a buddy, who there are plenty of people on hand for assistance and advice! In fact, everyone I have encountered during my placements so far have been very friendly, very willing to help and very patient! 

Rising Star Award

A very nice surprise to win! This was based on the work I did during my first placement on the graduate programme with the Pressure Parts team and my other interests outside of work. I put the application in and was shortlisted along with 5 other people new into the industry, a mix of graduates and apprentices, and was fortunate enough to win jointly with an apprentice from UK Power Networks.

Dyfed Davies - Engineer, Generation

Dyfed Davies

Why SSE?

SSE is one of the largest energy companies in the UK and offers a great starting salary, benefits and opportunities to progress and develop into a professional engineer. SSE Swalec has a strong presence in South Wales and it is hard to miss the green SSE vans travelling along the M4 and its great to be a part of such a large and diverse company.

Placements throughout your programme

I started my career with SSE within the Engineering Centre’s Mechanical Engineering department at Ferrybridge , and I later joined the site team at the Power Station for 8 months. Here I undertook placements within the Performance & Combustion Engineering, Operations and Boiler Outage teams. I then travelled up to the Scottish Highlands to work with the Hydro business at Inverawe Power Station – here I worked on a 10-week outage which involved the dismantle and re-assembly of a turbine generator. I then moved on to Medway CCGT Power Station to support the statutory major outage on Unit 2 HRSG and common plant. I worked as part of the Balance of Plant Engineering team where I focussed on pressure systems for 4 months. In the New year of 2016, I joined the CHP & Embedded Group for 4 months and divided my time between their base at Keadby Power Station and at Barkip Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Ayrshire, Scotland. Here I got involved with a 3 months outage at the plant which involved a full empty and clean of all tanks, install of new gas burning engine and biofilter replacement. In May 2016, I moved to Ireland to work at Great Island CCGT within the site Engineering team planning for the first major outage due to commence later this year. I gained experience of rotating plant, specifically of Gas turbines and Steam turbines, and improved my knowledge of HRSG and pumps in the process.

Senior mentors/influencers?

Some of the biggest influencers that I have been so fortunate to work with within this company include a handful of Engineers. The first being Stephen Smith, Awe Section’s Hydro Engineer, who had such a balanced approach for tackling engineering problems within the group’s assets. The second, Ralph Hargreaves, Lead Balance of Plant Engineer at Medway Power Station. Ralph taught me how to manage contractors both a high level and on the ground. The third I would consider my biggest influencer in terms of learning and development – Tony Murphy, Mechanical Engineer at Great Island CCGT. Tony has a fantastic approach to managing projects and undertaking both corrective and preventative maintenance tasks. The three names above have had a significant impact in my development in both a personal and professional way.

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on?

The project that I was tasked with which carried the biggest responsibility was the Re-commissioning of an Evaporation System at Barkip AD Plant. This project involved organising and preparing a commissioning plan, managing a group of contractors, negotiating terms with OEM company, procuring parts and carrying out work on plant, achieving SSoW, and ultimately getting the £1.5million system back into an operational state

Generally what you think of the programme so far and how you feel it will benefit you?

SSE’s graduate development programme is a brilliant scheme as it gives the individual the freedom to choose from such a wide range of placements and tailor the programme as he or she wants, within the business requirements. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the several locations and gaining invaluable experience of the different business areas – it has put me in good stead to become a competent technical engineer, and I appreciate all assistance from supporting engineers who have helped me further develop my abilities.

Matthew MacDonald - Trainee Rotating Plant Engineer, Generation

I joined SSE after completing a masters degree in mechanical engineering at Durham University. I chose SSE due to the diversity of its generating portfolio and the fact the graduate programme allowed you to complete placements across the business. 

I was initially placed in the Engineering Department’s turbomachinery team, dealing with the integrity of gas and steam turbines. Following a successful three month placement I went on to spend ten months on-site at two different coal-fired power stations, working in operations, technical turbine maintenance and major outage delivery. In order to develop some softer skills I then took on a three month secondment in Business Transformation, working with numerous parties to create a prioritisation computer program. After that I took on a short, but extremely beneficial, placement in energy portfolio management, learning about the trading of electricity and gas, and all the processes required to support it. Armed with this new knowledge I returned to the Engineering Department to undertake a placement in the condition monitoring team, looking at gas turbine combustion and turbine blade vibrations. My final graduate secondment was in wind farm modelling and performance analysis: determining whether or not turbines were performing as expected, and if they weren’t then working out why, and setting up computation fluid dynamics models of wind farms. All through the programme I had the support of a senior mentor and with his assistance I should hopefully achieve engineering chartership within three years.

I have now returned to the turbomachinery team to take up my post-programme substantive role. The skills and knowledge I have developed across the business, both on and off site, in thermal generation and low-carbon generation, should enable me to get my new career off to the best possible start.

Hamish Boulton - Turbine Engineer, Wholesale

Hamish Boulton

Why SSE?

I wanted to work for a company where I could directly contribute to many of the issues facing the UK energy industry such as decarbonisation. Additionally, as a newly gradated Renewable Energy Engineer it a big positive joining the company with the largest renewable energy portfolio in the UK with other exciting renewable energy projects like Beatrice Offshore Windfarm and Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 on the horizon.

Placements throughout your programme

Energy Trading

I gained an understanding of how commodities such as electricity and gas are traded and hedged to create revenue and manage business risk. 

Wind development

I produced downtime and failure rate predictions for a new model of offshore wind turbine with limited manufacturer information. Analysed data from current offshore wind fleet to create bathtub curves for 19 major components and failure predictions for a further 43 subsystems. I collated all the relevant information and produced a report for the Operations and Maintenance team to estimate budget requirements.      

Hydro Overhaul department

Developed a scope and budget estimates for overhauling a critical component at a hydro power station and produced recommendations for bringing the 50 year old station up to the modern safety expectations. Additionally I used innovative techniques to propose recommendations on how to improve performance from an underachieving hydro station. 

Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station Operations and Engineering

I gained an appreciation of coal plant operations by supporting unit operators and Senior Authorise Person in day and night operations. Joined the turbine and boiler engineering teams and created a database for the low temperature pipework. 

Senior mentors/influencers?

When I first started on the scheme I was assigned an engineering mentor to guide me towards professional charter ship and provide me support throughout the programme. My mentor was able to give me an overview of the many exciting projects throughout the company and therefore I was able to arrange that were exciting and beneficial to my development.

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on

Beatrice
Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project is a 588MW, 84 turbine, wind farm will be situated in the Outer Moray Firth and is expected to power approximately 450,000 homes.

I joined the team for a placement in the winter of 2015. The operations team for Beatrice offshore windfarm wanted to be able to predict the budget required for maintaining the offshore turbines throughout its lifetime. I produced a comprehensive report using data from several wind farms which detailed the average lifetime and mean time to repair for components inside the wind turbine model being installed. 

Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 
Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 is an Energy from Waste development project which is being constructed adjacent to Ferrybridge Coal Power Station. It is expected to use over 550,000 tonnes per year to create energy for around 160,000 homes. 

I joined the project team at a vital stage of the project, just prior to construction contract signing. I managed the implementation of a new requirements management system that is designed to improve efficiency and ensure that the project specifications were achieved. The new software was then used to create some vital contractual documentation which outlined the technical requirements for the project.

Generally what you think of the programme so far and how you feel it will benefit you?

The amount of input I get to put into shaping my graduate programme is the biggest positive for me. I wanted to undertake placements which would focus on renewable energy while still giving me an experience of thermal power generation.  When I first joined the company I discussed this with my mentor and I we sat down and designed a plan for a range of placements that would encompass this. 

IT Graduates

Aadil Patel - Projects and Programmes, IT

Aadil Patel

I chose SSE to begin my career within IT after university because of the opportunities available to work in an industry where IT is used to make a difference to how people go about their day to day lives. Working in the energy industry allowed me to work in a place where technology was on the forefront of the industry, taking smart metering and hive for example, throughout the energy industry, it is generally reaching a point where competition is spiking and the companies which adapt fastest to the changing technological market are the ones who are able to carry on running efficiently.

My placements so far this year have revolved around compliance, procurement, cost management, service analysis as well as project management. The broad spectrum of learning has given me the opportunity to experience different departments within IT to become a well rounded individual, as well as helping me decide which role I would find the most suitable to carry forward after the scheme. 

Mentoring, I personally find is key to development. Having the opportunity to speak to various senior staff members and having an assigned mentor who is experienced in the IT industry, provides graduates and apprentices a good insight into how they should approach shaping their potential careers, as well as making the most of the opportunities available. They provide a solid fountain of support for you to shape your career on. 

The IT graduate programme so far, I think has been beneficial to my career development. It has given me the opportunity to dwell into various departments and work on various projects requiring different skill sets. Apart from the experience and skills gained, it is an invaluable networking opportunity to understand the wider IT and energy industry as a lot of staff members have come from other technology or utilities companies.

Projects and assignments I’ve worked on varies from department to department. In Compliance, I helped create and distribute the training required by teams to help them meet SSE’s compliance requirements. Within the same department I helped with the procurement process in managing several large third party companies, who were proposing different solutions, which could possibly develop into a project with a budget that easily grows into the millions. 

Working as a service centre analyst within cost management, we had the aim of creating a system which calculated costs of all the IT services, supplied to the business. liaising with a third party company, I helped develop this tool that allows all IT costs (contracts, salary’s, hosting and suppliers) to be captured, as well as allocating them to business services providing a total cost for each service. The project had lasted several weeks and helped put into practice the skills I had developed during my first rotation, as well as helping me to learn new technical skills, which hopefully I can put into practice at a later stage in this scheme.

Projects I’ve managed include requests from Regulatory bodies such as Ofgem, to others within the business which require large quantities of data in order to make project/ programme level decisions. My role has been to engage the business stakeholders, help form teams and organise the delivery of our product to the business as well as make sure all due diligence is taken in terms of finances and governance. This essentially makes up the ground work for project management here within business intelligence. It is generally a challenging yet enjoyable role to be in, but naturally with roles that are challenging there are big rewards in terms of experience and development opportunities.  

Graham Smith - Retail Application Support, IT

Graham Smith

I joined the IT Graduate Programme after applying unsuccessfully for both the Engineering Graduate Programme and Trainee Engineer Programme. I initially became interested in joining SSE after it was suggested I apply to the Trainee Engineer Programme. Researching the company I found several reasons to join:

  1. As an electricity (supply, generation and distribution) company I would be part of a company performing an important role for the country.
  2. SSE have a large portfolio of renewable energy, something which I see as a necessity for future electricity generation.
  3. Amongst SSE’s core values the idea of Efficiency really aligns with my personality and how I live my life.

After spotting the IT Graduate scheme I applied and was recruited into SSE.

So far I am on my 4th placement in IT. I have worked in Architecture, Service Delivery, Enterprise Directorate and currently Retail Application Support. Over the course of a year I have learned a great deal about SSE itself and how IT supports the business areas. I have an incredibly wide range of contacts in IT, many more than I would have had in a standard role at the company. These three things combined mean that I am well placed to choose a role and excel in that role when I complete the graduate scheme.

Although I am mostly involved in admin tasks I am still learning plenty of new things and picking up extra work where I can. Simply shadowing someone for a day and attending their meetings, listening in to the goings on of day to day business conveys a wealth of information. I have run my own ‘mini’ project, organising an open day for IT apprentices, and have attended various meetings around other projects where appropriate. 

Recently I completed the analysis work around SSE Leavers and the involvement of IT. This was completely new work that any other member of the team would have been tasked with had I not been there. Involved in that was the responsibility of organising all the meetings, researching existing systems, co-ordinating actions across different teams, writing a process and importantly taking on feedback and adapting the process until it was fit for purpose. The leaver’s process experience in particular was one that I learned the most from. Not necessarily technical skill, but rather how to get the most from meetings, how to interact with people and how to deal with feedback that you may not want to hear. Useful lessons that will serve me well in future regardless of my role.

To me, this opportunity means that I can begin my IT career in the best possible way. Initially I worked for an IT company in a junior role and saw little opportunity to progress. At SSE however I have been given the best start. By the end of just one year I have already built positive relationships with many members of staff and have a whole host of contacts from within teams across the whole of IT. Having a wide range of contacts for me is important as I believe that it opens up more opportunities for progression in the long run, even things that I may not have considered when I began my career! This is something that I do not believe I would have if I was just in a standard role at the company.

As part of the IT department we are aligned to no directorate as such. Each Directorate has their own project and support teams and by working within that directorate you get a good idea of the work they do and what they are looking towards for their future. For example I am currently on the team who support the Smart Meter installs. I know that the businesses are ramping up the installation rate to meet the 2020 target and I can see the direct affects here. You really get a sense that you are supporting the business and allowing them to do the best job that they can do. Similarly within IT you can work for areas such as Service Delivery, they support IT who are supporting the business, and really get your head into something technical. IT allows you a great overview of SSE as a whole (I have been surprised at just how many things they do!) and a view of where you want to be in future, whether that is in Service Delivery in the heart of IT, on projects supporting the business or even in the business itself.

Joshua Simper - Group IT

Joshua Simper

Why SSE?

SSE is a huge FTSE 100 company who support cleaner energy generation. For me, this is the future, so it is exciting to work for a company who are heading to a brighter future. Also, on a personal note, I’ve lived locally to Havant since I was born, so it’s great to have friends and family around.  The opportunity to be the future leaders of SSE is a big attraction for me. Also, the graduates and apprentices should help to pioneer future working within SSE, bringing more efficient, modern ways of working.

Placements throughout your programme

I’ve worked in a whole host of areas within IT, ranging from Governance areas to Project work, managing important areas. Responsibility is a big motivator for me, therefore any placement that I’ve had responsibility, I’ve enjoyed.

Senior mentors/influencers?

Everyone has been great in relation to my progression. You have to drive your own development, but everyone is very happy to answer questions and help you learn.

Any relevant projects you might have had influence on?

Currently involved with our Forbury place project. Have partaken in a “healthcheck review” of the ADQM project.

Generally what you think of the programme so far and how you feel it will benefit you

The main benefit is gaining experience in a wide range of roles. As I do not have an IT background (Business and Accounting background), this scheme is allowing me to see how IT operates in a real world company.

IT at SSE

IT supports and underpins everything SSE (and most other companies) do. Without IT, SSE wouldn’t be able to achieve half of what they have. Technology is constantly improving, and being part of that delivery is an ever-changing world, so tomorrow will not be the same as today.