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Jenny Livingstone

Head of Agile & Product Development, Energia Group

David Macartney

Corporate Development Director, Energia Group

Gavin Hickey

Corporate Development Manager, Energia Group

Three senior managers from a green energy company reveal how continuous learning and development — and a willingness to seize opportunities — have led to successful and fulfilling careers.

Energia Group employs approximately 1,000 people, and we thrive best as a business when our employees are continually learning. Enabling talent is a key pillar of our People Strategy, and continuous development is an important aspect of this. We challenged three employees to reflect on how development has contributed to their diverse careers.

Why is continuous learning important to progress your career?

JL: Our industry is constantly changing, so continuous learning helps employees and the business adapt quickly and make the most of new opportunities.

DM: Continuous learning keeps people enthused, performing at their best and enjoying what they do.

GH: Since I joined Energia Group, I’ve been constantly learning. It helps that I work in a dynamic industry where there are always new technologies to explore. The fact is, if you stick to one technology and one way of working, you’ll be left behind.

If anyone challenges an idea you put forward, find out why they don’t agree with it.

Gavin Hickey

What development activities stand out in your career?

JL: Trying something new! In an early part of my career, I was asked to manage a risk register which was completely new for me. Initially, I wasn’t keen, but it made me learn all about risk which is a subject which has stood out to me throughout my career. You can also learn from your mistakes, even if uncomfortable at the time.

DM: After studying electrical and electronic engineering at university, I was accepted onto the Group’s two-year engineering graduate scheme. That allowed me to experience the diverse parts of a large organisation, which was a brilliant way of learning and network-building which has been invaluable in my career.

GH: Further education and studying for an MBA have been important for my development and have introduced me to different ways of working. I’ve also taken part in internal programmes, including Introduction to Line Management — so when the opportunity arose to manage projects and people, I was ready for it.

What opportunities have you successfully seized?

JL: Moving from a relatively small organisation to a big organisation was a risk — but one that provided me with an opportunity to learn and get involved with a much wider range of people, skills and activities.

DM: Early in my career, I was given the responsibility of managing the controlled demolition of a power station in the centre of Belfast. I had to build a team with the experience and ability to deliver the project successfully. Although a significant challenge, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to manage the project as it pushed me out of my comfort zone.

GH: You do need to be comfortable with taking calculated risks, so I’ve always been a believer in pushing myself whenever an opportunity arises and not shying away from a challenge. Taking this approach led me to COP26 in Glasgow where I got to present on green energy innovations in the maritime sector.

What advice would you give to graduates starting their careers?

JL: Identify role models and mentors within your organisation, and see if there is an opportunity to learn from them. While it’s good to have wider ambition, focus on doing your current job well. If you shine at that, your next move will happen more easily.

DM: Push yourself to get varied experience early in your career. This is vital to building your skillsets and to working out what interests you. It’s important to find a role and career path you will enjoy. Also, having a wider network outside of work is incredibly powerful, such as your rugby club or your choir.

GH: Be curious, ask questions and listen to experienced colleagues. If anyone challenges an idea you put forward, find out why they don’t agree with it. That will improve the way you generate ideas in the future.

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