This National Graduate Week, Neraj Ahmed talks about how our graduate programme has helped kick start his career, working as part of the effort to reach net zero and how supported he’s felt from day one.
You aren’t boxed into one role on the graduate scheme here. One of the things that attracted me to the programme was that you have three different placements over the 18 months, so you get really varied experiences.
Which placements you do isn’t just based on your education history but your competencies, your personality and what you can bring to the table. I studied Chemical Engineering (at the University of Manchester) but my first placement was in the business development team of Grain LNG, as a commercial analyst.
The grad scheme gives you an opportunity to work out what you enjoy doing, identify your core skill set and try different roles to see what interest you. Or you can look for a placement that you may not have the skill set for but want to build competencies in.
After I finished the 18-month graduate scheme and the three placements, I then took my first post, which is at Grain LNG – our liquefied natural gas terminal in Kent – where I’m a Technical Development Process Engineer.
The first time I drove into the office at Grain, it felt like I was driving off the face of the earth as it’s right on the coast. I was quite nervous about entering the corporate work environment, because it seems quite cut-throat from all the little stories you hear at university. However, everyone was so welcoming; especially the Senior Commercial Manager who went out of her way to make sure everyone took good care of me!
What surprised me was the amount of time senior people in the company will spend with you to help your development. They’re all so busy but will still go out of their way to support you as much as possible. For me that’s been especially surprising, considering I was the first in my family to go to university and so I’ve been used to having to figure everything out by myself in life. Now suddenly I’ve got a strong network and am able to get advice and guidance from that network – it’s been great.
What surprised me was the amount of time senior people in the company will spend with you to help with your development.
It shows me that National Grid has a culture of developing its talent and I want to make sure that, when I’ve built up experience, I also do what people did for me and provide time to help new starters in the business.
As a short-term goal, I’m looking to become a Chartered Engineer. And the amount of responsibility I’m getting, as well as the diverse range of projects to get my teeth stuck into at Grain LNG, is perfect for helping me work towards achieving that status.
In the long term, I don’t see myself looking to go into a specific role or trying to achieve a certain job title. What’s more important to me is that I’m working on and developing projects that provide a positive contribution to society.
It’s an exciting time to be part of the energy industry, either in an engineering or commercial role, as there are loads of challenges to be solved before we can achieve net zero. I want to be able to contribute to that.