Tell us a bit about yourself, your name, what programme did you join at SSE and when, what location are/were you based in?
My name is Alex Hayward, and I joined the SSE Renewables Engineering Graduate Programme in September 2020, based in Glasgow.
What did you study at university and what university do you/did you attend/what year group?
I studied for four years at the University of Glasgow completing an MA in Geography and Theatre Studies. I then completed a one-year MSC at the University of Strathclyde in Environment and Sustainability Studies.
Which sectors did you consider applying to for your graduate or placement role and what made you choose SSE and the area you are now working in?
Throughout school, I became increasingly engaged with discussions around Climate Change and the environmental impacts associated with our way of living. It was impressed on me that the emissions associated with energy generation were one of the biggest sources of carbon at a global level and I set myself on a path to help contribute to the solution. I applied for a few different renewable energy companies, but it was SSE's commitments to ESG issues such as fair taxation, national living wage and the just transition which made the business stand out among many of its peers. Ultimately SSE has very similar values to my own and that gave me confidence that I would find success and enjoy my time in the business.
How did you find the recruitment process? Do you have any advice for students considering applying for the SSE Graduate Programmes/Summer Placements?
A bit stressful to be honest but I think that's the nature of any programme as competitive as this one. However, the contacts who were given made every effort to accommodate my needs throughout the application process and despite the pressure, I really enjoyed completing the group exercise with other candidates. In terms of advice I'd say that firstly, the interviewer hopes that every candidate is perfect for the role because it makes their job easier, they are on your side! Secondly, be yourself and be honest about your weaknesses, I acknowledged that quantitative research is not one of my strengths during my interview and it helped me to demonstrate humility and self-awareness.
Did you require any adjustments during the selection process and would you be happy to share what support you received.
Yes, I required extra time for the online aptitude tests and access to a computer to make notes during the in-person assessment centre. Both of these were well accommodated for.
Tell us a bit about your current role, what you’ve learnt and what you’ve enjoyed most.
In Renewables we get to move placements every few months which is great! I'm currently working in the Group Sustainability Practice Team where I've enjoyed supporting corporate sustainability initiatives, responding to investor surveys and helping to measure and respond to the impacts of climate change on our Renewable assets. I work with a highly engaged team and have had the opportunity to present to two Directors. Outside of my current placement, I have a great relationship with the other Graduates, and we do a good job of looking out for each other even though we're usually working on very different projects.
If you are working towards a professional qualification, tell us a bit about that and the support you receive on this.
I'm pursuing registration with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Although there are a few stages to complete before reaching Environmental Chartership, SSE pays for my membership and assessment fees. I also have a mentor who's been through the process so can help guide my application and identify placements where I can fulfil the required competencies.
Any additional thoughts or comments
Working for SSE means helping to solve some of the worlds biggest problems and our employees welcome challenges and feedback as we all have a role to play.