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Member profile: Sandy Kelly AMEI

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When did you first become interested in energy?

I first became interested in energy at university. My favourite subject had always been chemistry over my GCSEs and A-Levels: it was a fascinating experience to learn about the basic building blocks that create everything around us. This led me to start a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Leeds.

Over the course, however, I found myself drawn towards the more energy-focused modules – taken in by the sheer reach energy has on every life on Earth and its role as one of great enablers for prosperity (alongside the other 16 UN Sustainable Development Goals). As a result, I switched to the MEng Chemical and Energy Engineering course halfway through my degree. This allowed me to study the whole energy supply chain – from generation (in all its forms), to networks and consumer matters.

Essentially, I went from molecules to molecules and electrons!  

Tell us a little about your current job

I’m currently a Commercial Graduate Trainee with EDF (UK). After graduating in 2019, I was still very eager to learn about the energy sector from a holistic perspective. Being a vertically integrated company, EDF (UK) provided that opportunity.

As part of the graduate scheme, I am taking on four roles in two years. So far, I have completed two customer-focused roles and one role as a Commercial Assistant on the Hinkley Point C project. Currently, I am an Engineering Assistant with Pivot Power, which is part of EDF Renewables. Pivot Power are developing a national network of Energy “Superhubs”, combining battery energy storage systems and high-volume power connections. Over the six-month rotation, I am supporting the Project Engineers and Procurement specialists to essentially make designs on paper a reality. I liaise with key internal stakeholders, the wider EDF Renewables group and with external suppliers to define and refine technical requirements and designs, then plan the corresponding procurement and commercial strategy to obtain the equipment/system. It’s a learning curve for me, but a very interesting and enjoyable one.

Everyone at EDF is incredibly professional, friendly and happy to help. I’ve also learned about other parts of the business I didn’t previously know too much about – for example, last summer I toured Sizewell B. It was fascinating to see a nuclear power station in action.

What inspired you to pursue this career, and what path did you take to get there?

I’ve always liked to solve problems, and what excites me is there is no “silver bullet” in our journey to Net Zero. With that in mind – and the fact I have only recently graduated – I have sought broad and varied experiences in the energy sector so that I can hopefully contribute to that journey both now and in the future.

The path I have taken so far started with joining Ofgem. I really enjoyed my time there: for me, understanding the energy sector’s regulatory landscape was the perfect start to my career. It also firmly placed the energy consumer at the heart of my work. Keen to further my knowledge, I joined EDF (UK)’s Commercial Graduate scheme – where the breadth has been incredible! I’ve worked on EDF’s website, pricing models and on helping to build a nuclear power station and battery energy storage systems. I have found that variety has really crystallised that need to collaborate on all levels to get to Net Zero.

How has being an Associate Member (AMEI) of the Energy Institute benefitted you in your career?

The first thing that springs to mind is the plethora of learning resources made available to me. Whether it be New Energy World, their knowledge service (EIKS) or online webinars, it’s helped me immerse myself in both broad and specific subjects. This has been especially useful when moving around so frequently on the graduate scheme. It’ll also come in handy when applying for full Membership of the Energy Institute, which I intend to do once I’ve built up my professional and personal competencies.

As important as learning has been the networking. Through the London and Home Counties Young Professionals Network, I’ve met so many like-minded people that I have connected with on a professional and social level.

Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve enjoyed the networking aspect of the Energy Institute so much that I now help to organise Young Professionals Network events in my spare time! It’s been great working with my fellow volunteers to organise webinars, learning sessions and social events for the London and Home Counties branch. It’s been an honour working with all the committee.

I’m also a sporting magpie and like to run, cycle and play badminton – all at an incredibly average level. Although I did run Cross Country for Lancashire in high school and college – I still have the Red Rose vest somewhere!  When it’s raining outside, I like to play video games. I prefer story-driven games, but I’ll play a few social ones with friends living elsewhere in the UK – it’s a good way of keeping in touch.

And finally… What does your Associate membership truly mean to you?

It gives me a golden opportunity to learn, lead and connect. It makes me feel part of the energy sector, and I’m very much looking forward to remaining in the sector for years to come.