Steve Johnstone: 30 years in energy and still learning

Senior Innovation Specialist Steve Johnstone, 50, applies his 30 years’ experience to his role assessing how we can make the gas network greener. With gas so central to Britain’s domestic and commercial energy system, decarbonising it will be vital if we’re to reach our Net Zero target.

Always learning

A Net Zero workforce needs people with the right skill sets and a willingness to learn. And I think that, over my working life, I’ve taken exactly that approach. I left school at 16 and signed up for an electrical and mechanical engineering apprenticeship. Some 34 years later, I’ve kept learning and adapting, yet it remains the foundation from which I’ve built my career.

An evolving career

I started work just as computer-aided design (CAD) was revolutionising drawing office skills. It was a technology I was really interested in and it helped me move into the gas industry when I was about 20. I’d previously worked for a TV manufacturer, so I had to learn a lot about the energy business; but in less than 10 years, I was a drawing office manager. Since then I’ve kept pace with changes in CAD, while also becoming an expert on transmission system valves – there’s 10,000 of them on our pipelines and they’re crucial to the way we control supply, or switch it off in an emergency.

I’m proud to work for National Grid. Now I feel I’m helping put the next stepping stones in place.

A greener gas system

In the last company re-organisation, I moved into another new role, this time within our innovation team. It was a little daunting, but exciting too as I’m using my years of industry knowledge to help decarbonise our gas system. People within and outside the industry seek my counsel and advice as they’re developing their projects. My 30 years of hands-on, practical experience is invaluable in developing new innovative ideas to support future Net Zero solutions.

I’m proud to work for National Grid. Now I feel I’m helping put the next stepping stones in place. I hope the work I’m doing will leave a lasting legacy and a better transmission system, as I pass my knowledge on to those who’ll follow after me.