When did you join National Grid and what was your first role?
I joined the engineering training programme so I’m just about to complete my 10-year anniversary! It was a career change for me as I was in an office job. I saw the opportunity online and went through an assessment centre. It took three or four months for them to come back to me!
National Grid paid for my training at Aston University in Birmingham. I spent two years in total training both in-house, and at the university. Some of the courses were technical but then I did a lot of other training such as health and safety and various other non-technical courses.
After my two years, I joined the business assurance team doing audits across the business for around 18 months. There was a restructure in 2013 and I ended up moving to the IEMS team.
The business assurance role gave me a good starting point into how the role fits into the wider organisation.
Can you tell us about your current role?
I work in the Performance Transformation & Control System team as an IEMS (The Integrated Energy Management System) Change Management Analyst.
It’s effectively a database which provides an interface for our control room to manage and monitor sites. It’s used by the TNCC & ENCC to monitor and control the GB electricity system.
Data is received directly from the substation control system in a database format and presented in the following ways:
- Substation displays, circuit displays, tabular etc.
- Alarm and Event Lists - warnings of what’s happening on site with an indication of how important it is, and records of what happened when
As well as presenting the data on screens, the IEMS analyses the data to help the control room engineers make decisions.
IMES also always data exchanges with other systems. When there are site database changes, we do the same simultaneously on the both systems PR1 and PR2 (one is a standby system).
We’re a critical team as we give support to both the Electricity National Control Centre and the Transmission Network Control Centre.
What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the relationship with your team?
I’m still going into the office. We have to keep some of the team on site to support the control room and wider business, one of my colleagues and some others are at risk so they work from home. Because I can’t meet any of our customers or stakeholders, we’re doing a lot more video calls.
One thing I’ve found is that the occasional day working from home is good to get my head down and concentrate.
When I’m in the office a lot of people see me and contact me at the same time as they’re unable to tell if I’m busy. If I’m working from home, they tend to phone someone in the office.
I don’t directly work in the control room, so the period of low demand hasn’t changed my role as much as many of my colleagues. However, all the database changes that were due to happen earlier in the year were delayed and we’re going to push these jobs out before the clocks change. Work is already ramping up as we speak.
How has your day to day work changed during the outbreak?
There haven’t been any changes with regards to my normal routine. However, I now have to communicate to many of my colleagues through Microsoft Teams. We also usually use a visual Kanban to display jobs then actual hard copies of our job packs which is a challenge, as there are more admin tasks.
Biggest changes you have made since lockdown?
It was nice to able to go to work. I’ve been classed as a key worker throughout, so I’ve been averaging around four days each week in the office. It was really helpful for me to be able to keep my daily work routine.
I’ve found I’ve been waking up earlier because my body clock has changed. I come in early and leave early. I don’t know whether that’s been the changes we’ve seen and the smaller amount of activity we’ve been doing in the evenings, or just the early summer mornings.
It’s been nice to return to the gym although it’s annoying to have to book a time slot. It’s one of the many ways that life has become more regimented.
What does the future look like for you after lockdown?
I haven’t had to cancel any holidays. It was great to start seeing some of my extended family in July. I am now planning on going abroad next week which is much needed after a long period coming into work since the pandemic.