Hi, I’m Catriona. I grew up in the Highlands, along the Great Glen. Nature has always been important to me and I have had a keen interest in the outdoors since I was a child. I went to a small, rural school and always knew I wanted to go on to study at university.
Fast forward a few years and I started studying Geography and Geology at Edinburgh University. This helped me appreciate the current climate emergency – you can literally see the evidence of climate change in the rocks, even around a city like Edinburgh!
After university, my first job in the sector was in Inverness, and it was great to be able to move back to the Highlands to start my career. My childhood living in a small village means a job in community-level energy production was ideal for me. I have a real understanding of the importance of sustainable and affordable energy for the world, and small communities in particular.
Now I work for Changeworks, which is part of a consortium (a group of companies working together) called Local Energy Scotland, which oversees the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). This group offers grants and loans to support local energy development across Scotland.
Some of the most useful skills I developed while studying are data gathering and analysis, as well as being able to prioritise workloads and taking the initiative. The teamwork, networking and social skills are all very useful, too!
I look up to lots of different people in my career, but especially females leading policy recommendations for the climate emergency. For example, the top-level people in charge of my employer Changeworks are all women – which is very inspirational and something I’m proud of.
As I move forward in my career working in the energy industry, I want to help make the change that’s helping address the climate emergency. I want to work for the decision-makers, like the Scottish Government, and in the renewable sector, such as energy infrastructure or offshore wind. I think the next big technology boom in renewable energy will be in offshore wind.
People are more aware of the barriers to energy production now, and everyone is on the journey to net-zero. It’s no longer a future problem. Scotland has ambitious targets for net-zero and I think that there will be more focus on electricity as an energy source. But there’s more work to be done. We need to redevelop the electricity grid and future proof it as a sustainable option.
My top tip for young people interested in getting started in the energy sector is to highlight and grow the skills you have from different life experiences. You develop transferable skills from so many areas of your life. Work experience and placements are great opportunities to take advantage of – and remember, just because you don’t have the exact qualification doesn’t mean you’re not qualified!
Taking part in My Energy Future has been a reflective process for me, giving me time to think about my next steps. It reinforced to me that I always want to keep pushing myself. It would be great to get involved in more women in sustainability networking groups and mentoring programmes.
The energy sector is never stagnant, and I never want my career to become stagnant, either! I’d love to promote a different angle to the energy sector. There is a community-based, third sector area of renewable energy which I’d love to raise awareness of through My Energy Future and mentoring the next generation.