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Lila Vazquez Villamor

Graduate Renewables Engineer

"The flexibility of the Graduate Programme, SSE’s broad energy portfolio and its values as a company are the main things that attracted me to SSE."

Tell us a bit about yourself, which university and degree discipline you studied, what attracted you to studying abroad and seeking your first graduate position in the UK?

I studied Energy Engineering at the Technical University of Madrid and I did an Erasmus semester in Germany during the last year of my degree. It was at this time that I started developing a strong interest on the economic and technological aspects of renewable energy, so I decided I wanted to continue my studies and do a Masters degree focused in this field. After the great experience I had in Germany, I also decided that I wanted to do it abroad.

The University of Edinburgh was part of a scholarship programme I wanted to apply for and the MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems in Edinburgh caught my attention. I was lucky enough to get the scholarship, which then helped me decide to move to Edinburgh for that MSc. Among other things, the master introduced me to the UK’s energy strategy, market and utilities, and my interest just kept growing as I focused my Dissertation on Great Britain’s power system. This led to the decision that I wanted to start with a graduate programme in the UK after the MSc (I also loved my time in Edinburgh which strengthened my wish to look for a position in Scotland).

In your current placement, are you office or site based. Tell us a bit about your current role and what you enjoy most about it

I am currently based in the Glasgow office as part of the Technology Team and it has been great so far. From my first day I have been involved in many different projects and given responsibility. This team is part of the Engineering Centre, which is located within the Wholesale business. In the Technology Team we look into new technologies that SSE could potentially get involved with and projects that are new to our current business. I find it a really interesting and fast-paced environment with many different projects going on at the same time, many of which I already had a chance to contribute to.

One of the things I enjoy the most about my current role is the people I am working with. The expertise, enthusiasm and willingness to share knowledge I have encountered so far has been an absolutely great experience. I have learned lots of things in a relatively short time and am not worried, that this is going to stop anytime soon.

When did you start researching which graduate programmes you would apply for and do you have any advice or top tips for to students considering applying for the SSE programmes

I started researching towards February (while I was doing my Masters) because I wanted to take a year in between my MSc and the start of the Graduate Programme, but of course I would recommend to begin searching before – during the previous year or summer – if you want to start just after finishing your degree.

When I was preparing for the competency interview and assessment centre I found the resources available at the career services of my university particularly useful. These allowed me to practice, improve and feel more confident when going to an interview or assessment. I would really recommend to practice as much as you can beforehand and think about all the possible questions that you might be asked, and prepare questions to ask too!

What attracted you to the role at SSE?

The flexibility of the Graduate Programme, SSE’s broad energy portfolio and its values as a company are the main things that attracted me to SSE. However, I was fully confident that I wanted to start the programme after having talked to many employees during the application phase. The welcoming and professional work environment that I encountered continues to excite me to go to work every day.

Tell us a bit about your development plan and what support you are receiving with this

As a graduate you have a development plan in which you set the objectives for each placement and map them against the competencies required for professional registration. You have a mentor, a business sponsor and a buddy that provide you with support and advice for your personal and professional development, but from my experience so far, everyone in SSE is also more than happy to give you advice and help you with anything you need.

I'm now on the last placement of my graduate scheme, working on the Electrical Systems Infrastructure package of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm as part of the Electrical Engineering team in SSE Renewables. Dogger Bank is the world's biggest offshore wind farm under development and my work is mostly related with the electrical systems within the offshore platform and the overall HVDC transmission system (it will be the first HVDC connected windfarm in the UK - so exciting!). The 5 months I have spent with the team (formed by colleagues from SSE and Equinor) have given me the opportunity to see and understand the incredible amount of detailed engineering design required for such a large project and also to hugely develop my technical competencies within the electrical discipline. Besides that, I've had the chance to get involved in the governance and technical engineering side of the project, which gave me a great overview of the complexities involved in managing a project of this scale and with so many interfaces. 

I have truly enjoyed working on such an interesting project and learning from colleagues with vast amounts of experience, so I have
recently decided to stay within the Electrical Engineering team and will continue working in Dogger Bank when I move into my final role in 2 months. This will be a fantastic opportunity to continue developing my competencies for the chartership and support deliver a wind farm that will provide renewable electricity to over 4.5 million UK homes!

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