International Women in Engineering Day

23/06/2021

We spoke to Sophie, one of our amazing engineers who’s been leading our plan for how we will enable  Net Zero through new network connections, as our Customer Engagement Manager for England and Wales.

Can you tell us a bit about your role? 
 
I am leading our plan for how we will enable Net Zero through new network connections. We expect more customers than ever before will contact us to connect to the network in the future due to the increase in electric vehicle charging, electrified sources of heat and more decentralised renewable generation. Therefore we must be able to offer our customers a quality and reliable service so that society can benefit from the transition to Net Zero. In the past I designed new electrical connections so am always looking for how I can increase my knowledge and innovate network design.  
 
What inspired you to become an engineer? Why did you choose engineering?  
 
Throughout school, maths was my favourite subject. I wanted a maths related job but had a narrow view of what this could be and didn’t fancy myself as a maths teacher! I decided to look at university degrees which relied on maths and found Electrical Engineering. This was perfect as I wanted a degree I could really use in the future – and I remember thinking ‘everyone needs electricity’! I graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Electrical Engineering and have never looked back.  
 
What do you enjoy the most about your role?  
 
I am excited as I truly feel my role just now puts me on the edge of a revolution. The race to Net Zero is undoubtedly dependent on the extent to which society can electrify certain areas such as transport and heat. Therefore SP Energy Networks must ensure the process to connect technologies such as electrified heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers is simple, fast and efficient.  
 
Sophie Sudworth
 
What’s your favourite project you worked on so far and why?  
 
I love working with customers to produce a design on paper and subsequently see this constructed and become reality. I remember I designed a connection for a new multi-storey ‘sky scraper type’ residential building and I passed it with my mum one day when we were out shopping. It was a huge sense of achievement telling her I designed the power for what was quite an imposing building. Although she was so proud, I still don’t think she believes me, I am still a little girl in her eyes. 
 
How are you helping us deliver better future, quicker for our communities through your work?  
 
Carbon reduction targets across the world are ambitious and making our planet more sustainable is a worldwide priority. Allowing our customers to use greener transport, cleaner sources of heat and power generated from renewable sources is a huge benefit to our society and future generations. Electricity networks have to be ready for this, our customers need to be able to request connections of new technologies and we have to deliver a fast and efficient service. Our customers are the reason our network is there and decarbonisation of society is the best future for our customers, so I feel proud to be playing a part of delivering this. 
 
Do you have any career advice and tips for the next generation of aspiring engineers? 
 
I would urge anyone to have no preconceived ideas of ‘engineering’. Yes I am an engineer but I also am a communicator, a leader, a strategist, a designer, a project manager, an economist, a writer, amongst other things. A career will be long, so make it as diverse as possible and please don’t narrow any perceptions you may have. Take any opportunities you get and meet them with hard work and optimism. Lead by example and learn from others. This approach has never let me down.  

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