Joshua Riddiford, Energy News – Mon, 25 Jun 2018
Industry leaders including Transpower’s grid development general manager Stephen Jay, outgoing Electricity Authority chief executive Carl Hansen and Contact Energy’s regulatory affairs and government relations head Louise Griffin have volunteered to mentor the sector’s younger professionals.
The Young Energy Professional Network’s new programme randomly matches mentees, who sign up to the programme, with a mentor in their city to meet that month.
The mentor and mentee will then organise their own meetings.
EmhTrade chief executive Stu Innes, Genesis Energy government relations and regulatory counsel manager Rebekah Cain and that firm’s wholesale manager Shaun Goldsbury have also signed up, along with executives and leaders from Mercury NZ, Vector, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“You will get the opportunity every now and again to meet somebody who is at the top of their game,” YEPN member and the scheme’s promoter Margie McCrone says.
McCrone, a regulatory advisor at Genesis, notes that such access to sector leaders is unusual.
“That’s not an opportunity you always get when you’re first starting out in your career.”
The programme will initially run in Wellington and Auckland where there are secure enough numbers to support it.
But McCrone says YEPN is keen to see it also run in other energy centres including New Plymouth, Hamilton and Christchurch should it prove successful.
She says initially starting with a smaller group could work out well because it will give YEPN the chance to “iron out any kinks”.
The network was founded in February 2015 and is supported by the BusinessNZ Energy Council. It now has about 150 members nationwide.
It exists to upskill members through knowledge-sharing and collaboration and provide leadership development opportunities.
The group wants to move beyond its Wellington base, aiming to establish an autonomous Auckland chapter this year before developing a presence in regions such as Christchurch and New Plymouth.
Previous network-hosted events have included a review of last year’s dry-winter and a presentation by New Zealand’s three future energy leaders on their visit to the World Energy Council’s summit in Portugal.
McCrone, along with fellow network members Powerco senior analyst Daniel Gnoth and Victoria University energy and sustainability manager Jonny Parker, presented on the skills needed for a future energy sector at the Downstream New Zealand conference in March.
The network’s new mentoring scheme echoes an existing programme which has run at Genesis, since the start of the year, where staff members are matched to meet for a “random coffee” each month.
McCrone says that programme has grown “organically” based on referrals after it was suggested there by another young professional.
One benefit of the YEPN programme compared to traditional mentoring is that it does not carry the same heavy time-commitment.
A mentor and a mentee could meet on an on-going basis but McCrone says there is no “awkward obligation” to do so.
Mentors could also benefit from the programme because it will give them the chance to meet people new to the industry who may be able to offer a “fresh perspective” on important issues.
Mentor and mentee could also exchange specialist knowledge.
“You could be an expert in solar but then you go and learn about hydrogen from someone,” McCrone says.
Growing a network of professional contacts is also an advantage.
“Having that opportunity to just continually meet more and new people helps you to kind of navigate your way into a career.”