Broadening horizons while developing skills

Working in a variety of roles has helped me develop my skills, explains Sue Adam, Head of Hinkley and Head of Major Infrastructure Development in Capital Delivery.

I've had many varied roles before becoming the Head of Hinkley and Head of Major Infrastructure Development; and it's probably not the typical route that you would have expected. But, looking back, they've all contributed to me gaining the skills and experiences that are invaluable in this role.

I started my career in 1977 as a Mathematics graduate working for British Gas, before moving on to various roles in Gas Distribution and Electricity Transmission Construction. The major 'spring-boards' in my career have been becoming an Alliance Manager and, more recently, the Senior Project Manager for the Hinkley C Nuclear connection. Both of these roles require you to have safety, operational, programme, commercial, regulatory, financial, and people skills among others. And I've had the opportunity to develop these by challenging myself to try new things.

Find the right sponsors

An important aspect of my career has been having the right sponsors, who have been great advocates in recognising my potential, but also challenging me. An example of this is when I achieved sponsorship from within our Construction team to move to a role that was significantly different to all of my previous ones. I was able to expand my knowledge of the business, develop my leadership skills, demonstrate my adaptability to new situations and build confidence in my own ability; all of which led to me being the first female Alliance Manager in National Grid.

Adapt your leadership style

I have always been encouraged to think about what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can plug the gaps. As a senior leader you are not going to be an expert in all areas, so you have to adapt your leadership style. It’s more important to know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your team. You need to know who the ‘go to’ people are; to be able to build relationships and communicate well; to go with your instinct on the information you’ve got; and to trust your team to deliver.

Published: June 2017