From the UN to The Apprentice

Susan Robson is a Principal Consultant in the Internal Consultancy team at National Grid. Here she shares how she unexpectedly ended up in the energy sector but hasn’t looked back, as well as her proudest career achievement so far.

As a child, I wanted to be a doctor or scene of crime officer. I ended up studying Medical Microbiology for my first degree at Edinburgh University and then Forensic Science at King’s College, London, so very much in line with these ambitions.

I was moving from London to the Midlands and National Grid is a key local employer, so I looked at opportunities there. I hadn’t considered the energy industry for my career before, but I couldn’t have picked a more exciting time to get involved, or a more influential company with which to do it. I also didn’t realise what opportunities would open up for me at National Grid and, while largely unplanned, they have been fantastic for professional development and purpose-driven work.

From the UN to The Apprentice

I chair the group Women in National Grid (WiNG) – a voluntary role – working on inclusion and diversity, both inside and outside the company. The WiNG group exists to address issues associated with gender diversity and my role is to make sure we have the right strategy and plans for action in our business. Working with WiNG provides our volunteers with personal and professional development opportunities over and above their main roles. Chairing the group has enabled me to speak at some amazing places, including the UN and on the final of the BBC’s Apprentice.

Championing women

My proudest achievement so far has been ranking at number one in the Financial Times Global Top 50 list for Champions of Women in Business – alongside Paul Polson, then CEO of Unilever. It’s always a boost to be personally recognised in this way, but what’s been best about the award has been the people I’ve met as a result and the opportunities that has given me; with a broader platform to do more to address inequality.

We’re at the start of an amazing journey into delivering solutions to the most important issue of our time, clean energy. And to do this we must have people who bring creative and critical thinking to the table.

A bright time to join the energy sector

We’re at the start of an amazing journey into delivering solutions to the most important issue of our time, clean energy. And, to do this, we must have people who bring creative and critical thinking to the table – skills I developed through the science and law aspects of my degrees. There’s an exciting career out there in energy; both in and, most importantly, beyond engineering.

Keeping on learning

I’ve just started an Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University. As well as some of the best academic teaching, it’s given me the chance to network with a brilliantly diverse cohort of peers from around the world, which, for me, makes the learning experience and professional development even more rich and interesting.

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