Day in the life of Francis Vary

A day in the life of Francis Vary

Our colleagues are at the heart of the ESO, working hard to operate a safe and reliable electricity system all whilst supporting the transition to a greener, and more efficient system for future generations.

How did you come to join National Grid ESO?

I joined National Grid Transco as it was known then in 2004 as a graduate. Whilst I was at university, there was a part-time cohort who would join our lectures once a week and one of the students was being sponsored on a day-release basis by National Grid Transco. He told me it was a great place to work and suggested I look at the graduate scheme and I followed his advice. The rest is history as they say! He turned out to be right – I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 17 years here in National Grid ESO.

Can you tell us about your background and your roles within the ESO?

I Studied Mechanical Engineering at University. When I joined National Grid Transco, the gas distribution side of the business seemed a natural starting point for me. I did indeed really enjoy working in gas distribution and I did two different placements in this area. The first was in pipeline design based at Warwick and the second in Gas Distribution Operations in Hemel Hempstead. The graduate scheme provided great opportunities and I was able to do a third placement of my own choice.

I decided I wanted to find out a bit more about the electricity transmission side of the business, even though I fully intended to go back into gas distribution for my first substantive post. I was so lucky to find a placement within the Electricity Demand Forecasting team at the Electricity National Control Centre in Wokingham. The role was a great introduction to working in electricity transmission. I didn’t need an electrical background to get started but was able to start to understand the technical issues involved in transmission. I enjoyed the role so much that I decided to stay in the Demand Forecasting team for my first role.

I was also very lucky that National Grid ESO sponsored me to do a series of qualifications over the following six years, starting with an introduction to power systems course at Strathclyde University and culminating in a Masters in Electrical Power Systems at Bath University in 2012. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to do these courses and to have been supported to do so by my employer. For my next role I I moved into to the National Electricity Control room and worked as an Assistant Transmission Dispatch Engineer. This was definitely the most exciting job I have ever done! I really enjoyed learning the skills and gaining the knowledge required to control and switch on the electricity transmission system and to help play a huge part in the safety and reliability of the electricity system. I also witnessed first hand the start of the energy transition we are still in today with huge growth in wind generation and other renewables.

What does your current role entail? / Tell us about your job?

My current role is in long term outage planning. I am heavily involved in working out how we can switch out different parts of the transmission system in different combinations to deliver the network reinforcements needed on the system for new generation and demand connections.

I spend a lot of my time working closely with many different projects for new connections and system reinforcements. I really enjoy working with other disciplines to find the best ways of delivering the works vital to the energy transformation. It is really satisfying when major projects that have been years in planning and development are completed and we are able to see the benefits by allowing more and more renewable generation to connect to the system.