This month marks our second careers blog, 'Take a leaf out of my book', where we ask people who work in an environmental area to write about their career journey to date: highs and any low points, challenges and accomplishments.
Our second post is from Yasmin Ali who works in the Science and Innovation for Climate and Energy Directorate in BEIS. Yasmin talks about finding suitable roles, making the switch from the private sector to the civil service – and how an engineering background took her to the middle of the North Sea and the Algerian Desert.
I am an energy innovation project manager in the Science and Innovation for Climate and Energy (SICE) Directorate in BEIS. I use my chemical engineering background and previous experience in the private energy sector to design and run energy innovation competitions. My main focus is on low carbon hydrogen supply, and industrial energy efficiency. I also do as much as possible (writing, presenting, mentoring…) to encourage others into STEM careers!
Why did you take this job?
After working for the private energy sector for seven years, in coal and gas fired power stations, oil and gas exploration and production, and district heating, I decided to quit my job and do something that gave me a wider overview of the sector. I also wanted to contribute to a more sustainable energy future. After a bit of time off, and much job searching, I found a role at BEIS. I didn’t know what it would be like but took a chance and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Being an engineer has taken me to some amazing, unique places. Working in oil and gas, I spent time on oil and gas platforms in the middle of the North Sea and visited a rig in the Algerian desert. As a control room manager for a district heating business, I was based at Citigen power station, opposite Smithfield Market in the heart of London. I loved knowing the routes of the underground hot water piping – there is an entire other world underneath our feet! Another highlight for me is hearing from people I have hosted for work experience or given career advice, who get in touch to tell me they are now studying engineering or working as engineers.
How important has networking been in finding suitable roles?
Networking has been important; I would not be here without it. A few years ago, through a volunteering role for my professional institution, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, I met someone who worked in the Civil Service. When I was looking for new roles, I reached out to him and he helped me to navigate the complex Civil Service recruitment structure, and I was able to find my way into the energy innovation world in BEIS. I try to pay this back by telling others about my job and giving career advice.
If you could visit one habitat on earth, where would it be?
I’m very curious about the deep sea and the amazing creatures that live in the harsh environments down there, so that is one habitat I’d like to see for myself. If anyone else is interested in this area, I would recommend reading Helen Scales’ books and articles on the subject.
If you want to get in touch with Yasmin to ask any further questions, you can email her at Yasmin.email@example.com