Stephie's Story - Graduate - Process Engineer, Centrica
Stephie is a Process Engineer for Spirit Energy, part of the Centrica group. She reveals her reasons for becoming an engineer, why she loves her job, and how the energy and utilities sector is helping her develop her skills.
What do you do and where do you do it?
I am a graduate Process Engineer working for Centrica (parent company for British Gas). The graduate scheme is four years long and the aim is to do four different placements during that time. I spent my first year working in Operations at our natural gas processing plants in Barrow-in-Furness, and I currently work in the central process engineering team in Aberdeen providing engineering support to all of Centrica’s upstream assets.
What does an average day consist of?
One of the things I love most about my job is that no two days are the same because each day/placement brings its own unique challenges. Generally working in Operations means far more time on site, more meetings/calls, and more interaction with operations personnel like technicians and chemists. My current office is a little bit more corporate – I typically work in an office doing process modelling or calculations but I do get to visit the different sites/assets that I am supporting.
Why is your role important?
My work makes sure that all the dangerous components and the components that don’t burn very well are safely removed from the natural gas that is eventually used in people’s boilers, people’s cookers, to generate electricity etc. The work I do is important to almost all aspects of daily life, like keeping us warm during the winter, keeping the lights on, and cooking food!
“The work I do is important to almost all aspects of daily life - keeping us warm during the winter, keeping the lights on, and cooking food!”
Which parts of the job do you enjoy most/ find most rewarding?
I learn something new almost every day and I find that very exciting. I also really enjoy solving difficult, real-world problems – that is most rewarding.
What degree did you do? What made you choose it?
I did both a Bachelors and a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Somebody must have told me about engineering when I was fairly young because for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be an engineer – I’ve always enjoyed problem solving as well as math and physics. I chose chemical engineering simply because I also really enjoyed chemistry.
What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector?
Honestly, while in university I sent applications for chemical engineering summer internships to companies from various industries – I really wasn’t fussed about any particular sector. I found out about Centrica from a diversity recruitment company called Rare Recruitment and eventually got an offer for a summer role there. The offer from Centrica was the best I had so I ended up doing a summer placement there and really, really enjoyed it!
What do you think of the career prospects? Have you had much training and development?
There are so many opportunities in the energy industry at the moment – there is a skills shortage for almost all types of engineers as a large percentage of current engineers are approaching retirement age. Also, to meet the changing needs of consumers not only is engineering/technical expertise needed but commercial expertise as well.
I have had great all-round development since starting my role. Since joining Centrica, I have had both technical and core development training. I am also working towards becoming a chartered engineer and that is something my company supports fully.
Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?
Definitely – it is a challenging and exciting job and you get to do something that has a real, positive impact on people’s daily lives. There are also many other benefits like a good salary and great development opportunities so why not?