International Women’s Day Case Studies

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we have put the spotlight on various EDF Energy role models, some senior and some just starting their careers. Each one contributes to our vision of being an efficient, responsible electricity company and champion of low-carbon growth. Read on to discover their career highlights, challenges and what #PressForProgress means to them.

Simone Rossi, Chief Executive Officer Statement of Support

I'm pleased to see as a company we are recognising International Women's day again this year. It’s important to me that we take some time out to reflect on inclusion and what a work environment where everybody feels valued looks like. We can all play an active part in achieving equality. 

Sarah Flannigan, Chief Information Officer

How long have you been at EDF Energy and what is your role?
18 months, Chief Information Officer

What has been the highlight of your time at EDF Energy so far?
Securing approval for an ambitious IT strategy which truly represented the needs of all of our business

What’s been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Finding a way to fulfil the very different needs of the different parts of our business, which range across our energy customers business, our power station fleet business and the £19b construction of Hinkley Point C.  The only way to tackle that challenge is by building great relationships, having honest conversations and not shying away from making clearly articulated trade off decisions.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When you’re feeling under pressure, ask yourself this question: if you were to look back in 5 years’ time, would you remember the particular piece of work you might be staying up late to complete? The answer is occasionally yes – in which case, carry on. But it’s usually no - in which case, turn off that laptop.

This year’s theme for IWD is “PressforProgress” what advice would you give others to support gender parity?
One day we will have full gender parity.  It’s a question of how quickly we get there. If our generation doesn’t step up, we will fail the next generation who will have to step up for us. So let’s get there quickly by all playing our part – there is not a single good reason not to.

Anne-Laure Meynial-Coumaros, Head of Brand Strategy and Digital Communications

How long have you been at EDF Energy and what is your role?
I have been at EDF Energy for almost 3 years and at EDF Group for more than 15 years …My current role is Head of Brand Strategy and digital communications

What has been the highlight of your time at EDF Energy so far?
I have really enjoyed developing the Pretty curious program and ensuring it is aligned with the business objectives as well as with a societal need

What’s been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been to start working in a new language/environment /culture when I joined from EDF Group 3 years ago. My wonderful team and colleagues helped me overcome it by making me feel at home and then I personally decided to just focus on what I could bring them and do my best !

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
This piece of advice was given to me by a former EDF Group CEO : “You will be a good manager if you make sure you help your team grow so that they want to take your place…and they get it”

This year’s theme for IWD is “Press for Progress” what advice would you give others to support gender parity?
Help little girls, from the youngest age to see how capable they are so that they can stand up for their rights and future. This is what we try to do at EDF Energy with Pretty curious

 

Angela Hepworth, Corporate Policy and Regulation Director

How long have you been at EDF Energy and what is your role?
I've been with EDF Energy since 2009, first of all in the Nuclear New Build team, and now as Corporate Policy and Regulation Director. 

What has been the highlight of your time at EDF Energy so far?
It's hard to pick one!  Achieving State Aid clearance in Brussels for the Hinkley Point C project was a great moment - we had to work very hard to make the case in Brussels, drawing on the expertise of many people across the company. It was a big milestone for the project, and great to see our strong arguments about the appropriateness of the support arrangements for Hinkley Point C winning through. 

What’s been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Of course there are always challenges with any individual project. A more general challenge is working on a broad range of issues, not all of which I'm an expert in - the energy market can be very complicated!  My approach is to ask a lot of questions and listen very hard to the answers. I'm lucky that there is so much expertise around me in EDF Energy that I can draw on. 

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
It sounds obvious - but in any given situation, just do your best. That's as much as anyone can ask of you. And if things don't go to plan - learn from the experience. 

This years theme for IWD is “PressforProgress” what advice would you give others to support gender parity?
Everyone needs to get behind it and make it happen. It's a moment for everyone to seize - both women and men - to think about their own circumstances and ask, "What can I do to make a positive difference?" 

As well as empowering women in senior roles, we also run a number of initiatives to give young women the confidence to enter into STEM careers. Read on to learn more.

Gemma Hay, Engineering Apprentice

Thirty three year old Gemma Hay from Eyemouth is in her 3rd year of EDF Energy’s Engineering Maintenance Apprenticeship scheme at Torness power station.

“I know I’m not a stereotypical engineering apprentice. I wasn’t very hands-on growing up. I didn’t spend my spare time tinkering with cars in the garage; the most I managed was building a few CD racks, but I was fascinated by Torness power station when I used to pass it as a child and I always wondered what it would be like to work there.

It may be unusual to start an apprenticeship in your 30s but age is only a number. The only person who could decide the path my career was going to take was me.  I felt the time was right and I knew I had the drive and determination to succeed.  I have proved to myself that I was more than capable of learning a new trade”

Now that I am in the third year of the programme I have come back to site to finish my training. I am really enjoying getting to know the plant and working with different teams. There is so much knowledge to absorb and I have started college to study for my HNC.

If I was to give advice to other women thinking about a career in engineering I would simply say, ‘Go for it”. The industry is changing!’’

Georgina Hines, Engineering Apprentice

Georgina, 21, of Hest Bank, left Lancaster Girls Grammar School after finishing her first year of A’ levels when she secured a spot on Heysham 1’s maintenance apprentice programme four years ago.

Making that move from the grammar school to Heysham 1 has not been an issue whatsoever, I am treated exactly the same as any other young technician on the site.

Day to day I am out on plant working on plant equipment which can vary hugely but also looking to sort out any issues we might come across. I really enjoy what I do and I wish to continue to develop my technical skills and plant knowledge, then maybe progress as an engineer.

Ideally I’d like to take a mechatronics degree in the future but I know I have more work to do on site to learn my job

I am so grateful for all the help, support and development I have received from my team, team leaders and apprentice co-ordinator! I could not have done it without them.”

Gemma Howell, Supply Chain Apprentice

I joined the company 16 months ago as a supply chain apprentice and have enjoyed every minute of it so far. I began journey long before I was old enough to start work, growing up in local town Minehead, Hinkley Point C has never been far too away. 

It was my interest in engineering that drew me to the EDF Energy however it was my interest in maths that pulled me towards a supply chain career.

Joining EDF Energy to become part of Hinkley point C was a fantastic opportunity, one that I am ever so grateful for. I am currently studying my HNC in construction and will hopefully go on to complete a bachelor’s degree in commercial management and quantity surveying.

I am also still learning the practical skills associated with industry and managing contracts. Together this is beginning to create a real foundation for me to launch a career.

To me Hinkley Point C is about so much more than “turning the lights on” It’s about bringing hope and opportunity to an area that is often deprived of such things.

 It’s about making a difference in the local communities, whether it’s encouraging young people to pursue a career in science or creating opportunities for local business’s.

I feel privileged to be part of this project, to contribute to such a significant part of the UK infrastructure but more importantly to help give back to an area that has given me so much and inspire the next generation of young people to achieve. 

Narmeen Rehman, Fuel Systems Engineer, EDF Energy

Narmeen Rehman is a mechanical engineer at EDF Energy, working on the safe and reliable generation of electricity from the UK’s nuclear power plants. She works on extending the life of structures and machinery at Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B stations, while ensuring the management of safety and risks for the handling of nuclear fuel from its lifecycle in the reactor through to dispatch from site.

She feels strongly about empowering females in STEM areas, and through her work as a spokesperson for EDF Energy’s Pretty Curious programme, is helping to change the misconceptions about STEM and demonstrating that girls do enjoy and work in science.

“For me, it’s about giving people choices. I believe that everyone should have equal choice to pursue whatever career they wish without cultural or societal barriers.” 

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did…Explore. Dream. Discover.’ And this is also great advice for young girls interested in finding out more about STEM careers. Discover as much as you can about the opportunities out there, it’s worth it.

“Even if you have the tiniest interest in science, please, at least find out more and give it a try. Never be afraid of giving things a try, it’s never too late to try something else. What have you got to lose? You might be on the verge of discovering an incredibly satisfying and rewarding career.”