What does your day typically consist of?
The only typical part of my day is probably my regular dose of coffee, there is no real pattern to the working day and what I’m doing on any particular day will depend on the demands of current projects and business development. That can be anything from meeting with potential clients and networking through to the technical aspects of large renewable heat projects; combustion, sustainability, engineering, fuel supply arrangements, compliance with regulations – if it’s anything to do with the production and use of heat, then it will land on the desk of the Renewable Heat team.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The diverse range of the work, the positive work environment and supportive colleagues are all parts of the role that I enjoy on a day to day basis. I enjoy the technical aspects associated with the complexity of renewable heating projects, no two projects are the same, and a successful project requires all the parts to work together.
The bigger picture is also something that I enjoy about the role, we use twice as much heat as we do electricity and a low carbon future needs to address the heat energy that we all use on a day to day basis.
How did you get into the role in the first place?
A long and winding road took me to where I am today. My first job was at IBM Greenock, working as a process engineer on the laptop assembly lines of Spango Valley. When IBM Greenock was being wound up I moved to IBM Global Services and worked in integration testing on projects as diverse as the first insurance product based on GPS tracking of cars and the global foreign exchange clearing house processing over $5 trillion per day. I then worked for BSkyB on telephony network migrations before returning to university to study renewable energy at Edinburgh Uni.
My first renewable energy job was at the beginning of the solar power boom, I was the technical director of a micro-renewable start-up company where we installed in the region of 2.5MW of solar capacity and diversified into commercial renewable heating systems. Renewable heating projects really clicked with my process engineering background and I knew I wanted to do more of this. When the opportunity came up to work at Natural Power, I took it and the rest is history.
What is your degree and /or professional qualification?
I have a Masters in Manufacturing Sciences and Engineering from Strathclyde and a Masters in Sustainable Energy Systems from Edinburgh.
What is the most interesting type of work you have done and why?
The Rhode Biomass CHP plant in Ireland is the most interesting project I have worked on. Natural Power is the Owners Engineer on a utility scale thermal power station and it involves a lot of complex and heavy engineering; biomass combustion, high pressure steam, emissions modelling and extensive fuel supply chains. As Owners Engineer, Natural Power is responsible for the technical specifications and technical input into contract negotiations. I can’t wait until contracts are signed, shovels are in the ground and we will have an ongoing engineering responsibility for the plant.
What is your biggest achievement at work?
I think that it’s the smaller everyday successes that matter more than the big ticket items. The chance meeting that turns into a signed contract, the phone call that removes a planning obstacle, all of these are more fundamental to project success than the big achievements.
Any hidden talents?
Nope, what you see is what you get!
What is your favourite hobby?
Being outside in the wild and remote countryside and the excuses and sports we invent in order to justify the time spent outside – hill walking, climbing, running, photography, surfing, biking etc.