Kirsty's Story - Senior Engineer - Welding, National Grid

After a careers aptitude test identified that she was suited to a career in Engineering, Kirsty applied for an apprenticeship and loved that she was able to do something hands on while continuing her education part time. She was then accepted onto National Grid’s Engineering Training Programme, similar to a higher apprenticeship. Read more about why Kirsty chose to work in energy and utilities.   

Kirsty McDermott - Design Assurance Engineer, National Grid

What do you do and where do you do it? 

I am a Senior Engineer – Welding, in the Engineering and Asset Management Team.. The nature of the role means I work all over the UK. My key areas are around Welding and Materials, ensuring that National Grid and our contract partners comply with the requirements for construction on our assets.

Why is your role important? 

I am considered a Subject Matter Expert for Welding and Materials, my knowledge, experience and support is key to providing assurance to the business to ensure the assets we construct are safe and reliable. National Grid is responsible for the supply of the UK energy. My team is a key part of that chain and we are involved in the UK asset pipeline integrity, in terms of construction, maintenance and compliance with company, national and international standards.

What does an average day consist of? 

No two weeks are the same in my role, which is what keeps it so interesting. I have days in the office where I am reviewing documentation and ones where I attend construction sites to support the projects by monitoring and reviewing activities. I spend quite a lot of time traveling, carrying out visits to review orders of components that we may be purchasing. This has given me the opportunity to travel as we have suppliers based all over the world. 

"The diversity of working in this industry is something that has really appealed to me."

Which parts of the job do you enjoy most?

I enjoy the balance between time working in the office and getting out on the construction sites, I can be involved in most stages of a project, and see the works coming to life and how I have contributed and made it a success. I engage with various people on a daily basis, from welders to project managers to procurement which gives me a real appreciation of all the challenges we face and how to help to overcome them.

What path did you use to get to the position you hold today?

I did go to college to attend A levels in English, IT, Law and Psychology but rapidly realised this wasn’t for me.  After carrying out a careers aptitude test, I found that I’d be suited to a career in Engineering. This is something that I wasn’t even aware of, or ever been introduced to at this point. After further research I applied for an Engineering Apprenticeship, specialising in welding and fabrication. I loved that I was able to do something hands on, I found it so much more rewarding and was able to continue my part time education to gain a BTEC, HNC and a HND in Manufacturing Engineering and earn whilst I learned.

These qualifications and industry work experienced allowed me to apply for National Grid’s Engineering Training Programme. It’s like a higher apprenticeship where I am working as part of a team and I also go to university to study. .I’ve had the opportunity to develop my knowledge in pipeline integrity, innovation, robotics, project management – to name a few!  After 2 years I had a full time role and a Foundation Degree. National Grid supported my education further, and given the past welding experience I had, and enjoyed, they sponsored me to undertake a Masters in Welding Engineering.

What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector? 

The diversity of working in this industry is something that has really appealed to me. Regardless of background and previous skills and knowledge, I have found somewhere I can apply what I know and become an asset to the business.

"I enjoy the balance between time working in the office and getting out on the construction sites. Being involved in most stages of a project mean's I see works coming to life and my contribution to its success."

What do you think of the career prospects? Have you had much training and development?

My managers have really invested the time to get to know me and find out what makes me tick and have supported me in sponsoring my further education and any training that has been needed. This allows me to be more competent in my role and add value to the team.

I was recently recognised in the Top 50 Women in Engineering, founded by the Women’s Engineering Society to raise awareness of the skills shortage facing the industry and change perceptions and encourage more people into a career in Engineering. I have also been listed in the HERoes Role Model List as one of the Top 50 Future Female Leaders. I’m very proud of both of these Awards, and hope to continue to support and mentor younger people developing in their careers. 

Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?

Yes! And I have! I think it’s an exciting industry with so many opportunities to develop and thrive and one I will continue to encourage people to join

Find out more about apprenticeships, National Grid, or read our other stories. If you are considering applying for a role visit our current vacancies page.