Tell us a bit about yourself, what programme did you join at SSE and when, what location are/were you based in?
I joined the SSE Commercial Graduate Programme in August 2019 after graduating from university in my native Scotland. My graduate scheme was based in Dublin, Ireland, where I chose to move to and where I remain today. I have now completed the Graduate Scheme and moved into a permanent job with SSE Airtricity.
What did you study at university and what university do you/did you attend/what year group?
I studied a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Glasgow. This was a 5-year integrated master’s which I started in 2014 and graduated in June 2019, moving straight into the Graduate Scheme with SSE Airtricity in the August of the same year.
Which sectors did you consider applying to for your graduate or placement role and what made you choose SSE and the area you are now working in?
I applied to businesses within the engineering industry, particularly those within energy and HVAC, as I found great interest in renewable energy and thermodynamics whilst at university. However, SSE were my number one choice and were the first company I applied to when the graduate schemes began to open for applicants.
At the time, and still to this day, SSE had impressive green credentials and ambition to combat climate change by transitioning to renewable energies. This is what drew me to SSE, as I had ambitions to work somewhere where I could support the transition to a cleaner and safer future.
I chose to work with SSE in Dublin, partially as my girlfriend is Irish and lives here, but also as a challenge to myself to leave my home in Scotland, and I am lucky that SSE operates in both the UK and in Ireland!
How did you find the recruitment process? Do you have any advice for students considering applying for the SSE Graduate Programmes/Summer Placements?
The recruitment process had several steps and was straightforward, but challenging, as it should be. The first few steps were online tests before a video interview stage which was then followed by the assessment centre, a half-day in an SSE office that includes a formal interview, a group exercise and a 10-minute presentation on a given topic. For me, this was then followed up by a final call by a senior leader and the recruitment team in the location I applied to. I found the process challenging, particularly the video interview, the first one I had ever completed. The assessment centre itself required teamwork skills and individual preparedness but was a rewarding experience.
For advice to students, I would suggest researching SSE as much as possible, particularly looking at our values and safety culture that is pivotal to our daily work. Research climate change and why we must tackle it, and what SSE are doing to combat this. In addition, prepare as best possible for both the video and formal interviews by perhaps preparing your own questions and answers, and maybe get someone to ask them to you.
Did you require any adjustments during the selection process and would you be happy to share what support you received.
In my case, I did not require any adjustments during the selection process. Additionally, I was fortunate to apply for SSE and begin my career pre-Covid. However, I believe that SSE will be happy to provide any support necessary to applicants to support them throughout the application process.
Tell us a bit about your current role, what you’ve learnt and what you’ve enjoyed most.
I have completed the Graduate Scheme and moved into a permanent role within SSE Airtricity, beginning my new role as a Commercial Analyst in April 2021. I am currently in the Commercial Directorate of SSE Airtricity with my role responsibilities including developing insights and analysis on the commercial aspects of the business; developing performance reports and analysis; analysing our competitors and the market; developing models to forecast various commercial scenarios; and much more!
Along the way I have learnt many things, including improving my Microsoft Excel skills tenfold! I have also gained a greater understanding of the commercial aspects of business, the processes through which we acquire and retain customers, and enhanced my overall understanding of the energy industry; from what the major movements are to the nuances of hedging energy.
Throughout all of this, what I have most enjoyed is the inclusive nature of SSE, where everyone is happy to talk to you and have time to speak to you. Colleagues are always welcoming when you move to a new team and are also happy to help when you need some! It’s a great culture and an excellent place to work.
Any additional thoughts or comments
SSE are an excellent company with an impressive track record of developing and operating renewable energy generation. We have an inclusive culture with safety our number one priority and ambitions to support the transition to a better world of energy.
The graduate scheme is an excellent opportunity to develop and learn, especially with the chance to move between placements in various business units or teams. This provides a holistic view of the business unit that graduates are part of and allows each graduate the opportunity to meet many people and build a network. There are also plenty of excellent graduate specific opportunities and training sessions which are great for meeting with and networking with peers; whilst also improving skills along the way!