National Grid ESO Gavin Brown

A day in the life of: A Day Power System Manager

We’ve been speaking to ESO colleagues who are working to support the nation during the Coronavirus pandemic. Next up is Gavin Brown, Day Power System Manager who gives an insight into what COVID-19 has meant for him.

National Grid ESO Gavin Brown

How long have you worked for National Grid and what is the Day Power System Manager responsible for?

I joined quite a while ago in 1993! I was in the post event review team. Monitoring operational performance and reviewing incidents – which was a great way to learn about the activities across the business.

Day to day I look after a team of engineers with operational experience. They help to support the control room by providing input into ongoing activities or projects that will impact the control room – either in the short or long term.

We also support activities to make sure control room issues are appropriately communicated across the business and with the industry as required.

We spend a lot of time talking to ESO colleagues, customers and stakeholders about the issues around current challenges involved in operating the power system and then play our part in helping to solve them in conjunction with a wide range of teams from across the ESO.

However in order to do this, it’s important that I spend time with the team in the control room keeping up to speed with current operational issues. For me this is usually 3 or 4 times a month.

How is teamwork helping you during the COVID-19 outbreak?

As many of my colleagues have mentioned, the lower demands during the lock down period presents challenges for how we operate the system and there is lots of work going on across the ESO and with the wider industry on how we meet these challenges.

The team have been very involved in supporting the work in the area and helping find solutions to these challenges with our ESO colleagues – it’s interesting work and a great team effort across the business. As part of this work we have been regularly engaging with both DNOs and TOs.

We’re engaging with customers and stakeholders more than ever at the moment. Since this pandemic started, we, in conjunction with other ESO teams have been running a weekly webinar to update customers on business continuity plans, operational and market issues and impacts on demands.

This webinar is open to industry participants and we get attendees from across the industry. We hope it’s a useful update of what’s going on during these challenging times.

The webinars have been working well we’ve been answering lots of questions about the impact of COVID-19 on demand, how we operate the system, along with our new processes and services.

How has your day to day work changed during the outbreak?

Lots more meetings and time spent on the phone!

Most of my time I’m working from home now. I’m not interacting with the team face to face anymore and running a team virtually has its own challenges. It emphasises the importance of communication and I’ve learnt to WebEx and all the other virtual collaboration tools very quickly and they have worked well, but I still miss the ability to just turn around and talk to people in the office!

What effect has Coronavirus had on the relationship with your team?

It’s more challenging but the team have responded brilliantly to the lockdown and are working really well. We’re holding daily video calls to keep up to date and share what we are up to as a team.

Biggest changes you have made since lockdown?

Although I used to enjoy working from home on occasion it is more challenging working from home all the time and it’s difficult to balance work and home life.

I try and make sure I take regular breaks to go outside and I try to take time for lunch with my family. It’s vital to prioritise exercise too – although that doesn’t always happen!

Has this changed your opinion on homeworking?

Completely! I didn’t do it a lot before and only used it for a time to get away and do some work without distractions. However, the lockdown has shown me that you don’t necessarily have to come into the office to do the job.

What does the future look like for you after lockdown?

It’s the simple things that I’ve been missing – going out for coffee, dinner with family, and seeing friends. Like all of us I haven’t seen my wider family for weeks now. We’ve also had to cancel a couple of holidays too. So I’m looking forward to just being able to do all of these normal things.