Louise Kingham OBE FEI
Chief Executive Energy Institute
The Karen Burt Award was launched in 1998 in memory of Dr Karen Burt, an eminent physicist and active member and Council office holder in The Women’s Engineering Society. She campaigned tirelessly to promote the recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering – a cause which is still very much alive and important today as it was when she first began simply because of the scale of shift we have to make.
This Award in particular recognises the best newly qualified female Chartered Engineer and aims to encourage more women to achieve Chartered Engineer status in either engineering, applied science or IT. This year’s winner, Clare Lavelle, was nominated by the Energy Institute so we were especially delighted for Clare when she won.
Clare works as an energy consultant for Arup, specialising in offshore energy: offshore windfarms, wave and tidal as well as oil and gas decommissioning. She inherited her interest in engineering from her father and his enthusiasm for technology. She studied physics and maths and enjoyed the discipline and rigour of those subjects. Luckily, Clare had a reasonably rare influence in her life which many do not, so we still struggle to undo societal norms that work against the promotion of STEM careers to girls in particular – those influences which comes from our parents and the teaching profession largely who can often themselves be unaware of the real opportunities a STEM-based education can provide.
Clare finds working in the energy sector very rewarding because energy professionals and the decisions that they make have real impact on society, climate change and people’s quality of life. So, rightly, she feels she is doing work that has meaning. Very many congratulations to Clare who now becomes an important role model for others to see and hopefully recognise a bit of themselves in.
Louise Kingham OBE FEI
EI Chief Executive
The old fairground saying – what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts – might apply to a number of sectors where the economic cycles of expansion, contraction and growth once again are readily managed by companies following periods of releasing and then recruiting people. However, when the energy industry needs to compete to attract talent, leaving it to ‘natural’ cycles alone – for HR teams to respond to when need arises – is not enough. Given the energy industry underpins daily life and brings such value to society, it’s industry-wide collaboration, facilitated and supported by independent bodies like the EI, that is needed beyond, and in support of, what individual companies need to do. And, the companies need to get behind that approach to build critical mass and recognise it’s about reputation too.
EI inspiring young people at the Big Bang Fair 2015 to take up a career in energy
Last week the EI supported the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair which hosted 75,000 children, parents and teachers to a festival of what Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers can offer. By no coincidence its also British Science Week which is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths – featuring fascinating, entertaining and engaging events and activities across the UK for people of all ages. And to do their bit, the Department for Energy and Climate Change hosted the My Energy Job online energy careers fair which the EI also supported.
The EI is promoting and hosting the development of DECC’s POWERful Women initiative as well as supporting pan-industry declarations in science and engineering to improve diversity, equality and inclusion. EI is also investing to develop its Young Professionals Networks, Student Chapters and Mentoring Schemes as well as looking at innovative ways to connect growing professionals with experienced ones.
Why? Because developing people is a long term investment and for an industry to really prosper and add value to society in the way that energy needs to, its continuous promotion, even when times are more challenging, is essential to building the pipeline of talent we need – roundabouts not rollercoasters.