Through my volunteer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassador role, I was asked to attend a careers speed dating event at Hendon School. Having studied in the area myself some 15 years ago (albeit in the rival school down the road) I welcomed the opportunity to talk to students about my new role as Energy Manager at Starbucks.
Engineering, Energy, Oil & Gas
The students very much ran the event – which was so great to see – and had secured speakers from various industries including law, engineering, computing and business. I was surprised to see just how popular the Engineering, Energy, Oil & Gas tables were and was particularly impressed with the number of female students showing interest.
When I quizzed students on the energy, oil & gas industry, they explained it was their interest in maths, chemistry and chemical engineering that led them to consider the oil & gas sector.
The biggest drivers
Upon further questioning, I could see that salary, potential earnings and the opportunity to work abroad were the biggest drivers. There was a perception that oil & gas engineers are the best paid. Only a few realised the difference between upstream and downstream, the huge variety of roles that exist in the sector or what the roles actually entail.
This reed survey suggests that oil & gas engineer as possibly the lowest paid type of engineer!
So what is the biggest challenge?
There are many misconceptions of what a job in energy, oil & gas entails – perhaps because there aren’t enough of us actively reaching out to students. That ranges from explaining to them what a day in the life of an energy engineer looks like, what starting salaries are, the level of traveling required, work life balance insights to benefits beyond salary.
The students seemed to appreciate an insight from real life practitioners and better understood the opportunities that exist across the sector. For some, our talks affirmed this was the sector for them, for others they realised they needed to go away and do a little more research before selecting their degree choices.
The future energy engineers
It was really refreshing to have open conversations with the energy engineers of tomorrow and talk to them about my role as an Energy Manager. Many of them admitted they didn’t make the connection of energy production and energy management or realised that engineering degrees could lead to a fruitful career working in energy and engineering within the retail sector.
The evening ended with a few more converted to consider a career as an energy manager – and that was my mission completed!
Jaz Rabadia is the Senior Manager of Energy & Initiatives at Starbucks EMEA