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Two employees talking over coffee

Celebrating 25 years of EDF in the UK with someone who's been here from day 1

Posted November 30, 2023

It's been 25 years since EDF became a long-term partner to the country by entering the UK energy market. Alicia Waddington-Azambuja, a Digital Communications Executive in Strategy and Corporate Affairs who’s been with EDF for a year, talks to Toby Allen, Director of Business Development in Retail, who has worked for EDF for the last 25 years.

Toby, what did you do when you first started at EDF?

Toby: I joined Eastern Electricity in 1998 on a graduate scheme in the distribution networks business. After several changes in the name of the company I worked for, we were bought by EDF in 2002.

What was the company like back then and what big changes have you seen?

Toby: Not everyone had a computer. If you had a mobile phone or Blackberry, you’d made it! There were huge printing and binding machines, and everything was done on paper. You travelled for meetings as they were held in person.

Technology is a big difference. You can share information much more easily, and it’s a lot more efficient. It can get a bit too much these days, but it was a limitation in the past. 

Alicia: I haven’t used the printer yet, and I’ve been here a year! I can message my manager and get a response in minutes, and I don’t have to travel very often. 

What have been your key highlights over the years?

Toby: I worked in Policy and Regulation in 2006 when EDF was proposing new nuclear builds in the UK. At the time, the Government had written a report saying that this would only be a last resort. We demonstrated that nuclear could make a valuable contribution towards achieving net zero. I was in the room next door to David Cameron at Hinkley Point B when he announced it was going ahead in 2013 – it was quite a moment.

More recently, I was involved in the negotiations for the Kraken contract. It’s helping to transform the retail business for both us and our customers and I’m proud to have been a part of it.

What do you think EDF will look like in another 25 years?

Toby: Now we’ve reached silver, we’re going for gold! Our sustainable business progress update shows how we’ll help Britain achieve net zero – by making the most of being together. I see the five business areas of Nuclear, Renewables, Business and Wholesale, Retail and Technical Services working much more closely together.

Also, what our customers need in the future will be very different to today. Customers will need their heat pumps, solar panels and electric vehicles to work together flexibly to ensure they use electricity at less expensive times and that local networks aren’t overloaded. My priority is to build our capabilities. It’s a complex industry and we need to simplify how everything works.

What excites you about the future?

Toby: I’m excited to see how we’ll strive to be the best performing in everything we do. We need to be innovative and continue to invest in different types of equipment and technology. We also need regulatory change, which Ofgem is implementing, and to ensure competition allows investment longer term to achieve net zero. We also need to be customer-focused and make sure we serve our customers as effectively and efficiently as possible.

What has EDF brought to Britain over the past 25 years?

Toby: Significant investment towards helping Britain achieve net zero. We’ve persuaded the government about the merits of nuclear but also renewables and other technologies. We’ve shown the benefits of having a sustainable competitive market and that supplier investment is in everybody’s long-term interest.

Alicia, why did you join this industry?

Alicia: After university, I worked for a PR agency and was inspired by their passion for climate change. EDF is the electricity company to work for if you’re interested in climate change, I saw a role where I could nurture the skills I need in my career. So here I am!

After hearing about my experiences, what are your hopes for EDF in the future? 

Alicia: I’m excited for the career opportunities and longevity EDF has to offer, and to be part of tackling the climate crisis. My 11-year-old nephew joked if the planet would still be here by the 2040 World Cup. I want to be able to say I contributed towards our net zero goals. I’m also passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) and am proud to be part of a company that values this.

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