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Nicola McSweeney

People Director, Gas Networks Ireland

Jobseekers can expect an exciting and rewarding career in the energy industry, contributing to projects that make a difference in the world of sustainability.

For a dynamic career, look no further than the energy industry, attests Nicola McSweeney, people director at Gas Network Ireland. “It’s the most exciting area to work in now,” she says. “The climate agenda is a global hot topic, and we are playing our part in that as we continue to plan for more renewable gases in the network.”

A sustainability focus is enticing many jobseekers. “Our strategy of continuing to operate and maintain the gas network while also preparing for a future of net zero is what piques many people’s interests,” says McSweeney.

Routes into the energy industry

There’s no one fixed route into the energy industry, explains McSweeney. Instead, there’s a ‘whole suite’ of career entry points. Gas Networks Ireland, as an example, offers biannual apprenticeship programmes for a four-year, hands-on experience across three disciplines: plumbing; electrical instrumentation; mechanical automation and maintenance fitting.

They also offer two-year graduate programmes for those with a STEM background to try out different roles — in areas such as engineering, IT, cyber and regulation — throughout the company. “The graduates rotate every six to eight months throughout the programme to gain experience in a number of different areas so they’re not just in one role for the entire duration,” says McSweeney.

Range of opportunities

As in any industry, attracting and retaining skilled talent is critical. The company has many routes for development, says McSweeney. “We encourage this the whole way throughout people’s careers,” she says. “We’re big advocates of cross-skilling our people and moving across different areas of the business to provide new opportunities and development.”

The graduates rotate every six to eight months throughout the programme to gain experience in a number of different areas.

Keeping loyal staff can be attributed to a strong company culture and an inclusive environment, says McSweeney. “We actively encourage more women to apply for our engineering and STEM-related roles,” says McSweeney. “This, alongside our hybrid working model, creates a flexible environment with many opportunities for our people.”

Representation in schools

Gas Networks Ireland has partnered with schools focused on developing essential skills, awareness of available career paths and improving female representation in STEM careers.

“Through our Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and partnerships, we are involved in a variety of initiatives at primary and post-primary level. Some of this work includes bringing students into our offices to show them the types of careers and opportunities available within our organisation,” says McSweeney. “We work alongside our partners to encourage and promote STEM careers from an early age.”

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