Women in the Energy Transition - an Interview with Kelly Tavender | Guernsey Electricity

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Women in the Energy Transition - an Interview with Kelly Tavender

What does helping keep Guernsey running and dinner with Queen Boudica have in common? Project manager Kelly Tavender tells us what it's like to be a woman in the sustainable energy transition.

It's often asked 'what can a tiny place like Guernsey possibly do to impact climate change?' In fact the potential we have got to make change is surprising and starts with what powers almost everything we do - electricity.

The sustainable energy transition is all about the global energy sector's shift from fossil-fuel based systems of energy production and consumption - such as coal, oil and gas - to cleaner energy sources. Here in Guernsey, we're also playing our part in the transition to cleaner energy and have a team of people on board to help make this happen. 

Think global, act local 

As part of a celebration of people in the energy transition, project manager Kelly Tavender shares her thoughts and experiences of working in what's often considered a traditionally male-oriented industry. 

What is your role at Guernsey Electricity and how does this impact the sustainable energy transition?

I am a Project Manager within Guernsey Electricity's Project Management Office in a team made up of four men and two women. 

Each Project Manager will manage and control several major projects. For example, the renewal of electrical equipment on the island’s electricity network, renewal of generation equipment at the power station, and upgrade projects to bring the island's electricity network into the 21st century.


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Our project managers help push Guernsey towards a more sustainable future with electrical energy use at the core.

If you're a regular at Beau Sejour, you may have seen these substations installed in 2022 which supply around 25% of the Island’s electricity.

You may also have heard about the modernisation of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, a project that will enable the hospital to decarbonise and help us to prepare for future electricity demands by increasing electricity capacity in the South and Southeast of the island. 

Why do you choose to work for Guernsey Electricity? 

I work for Guernsey Electricity to get to the heart of working towards a sustainable future.

I feel proud knowing that we are moving forwards for the wellbeing of the planet and all of the inhabitants we share it with. It is important to make big steps to do this, and we're focused on making this happen.

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How does your work impact everyday lives?

My day job is to ensure the projects needed to move towards a more sustainable future are controlled, running on time, and within budget.

This means we can keep Guernsey running with electrical power, allowing everyone to live and work in comfort. 

What is your favourite part of the job?

I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of my job and interacting with people is my favourite part. I love working with different people and learning new things from each encounter. I get to work with all the various departments at Guernsey Electricity as part of the many projects we have running and I also enjoy being involved with all the project stakeholders.

As a woman working in the energy transition, what is the most important challenge you've had to overcome to fulfil your role?

I find sometimes getting people to believe I know what I am talking about can be difficult. Sometimes it's assumed that as a woman, I may not fully understand some of the more technical engineering talks, or I may not be as technically minded as some of my colleagues.

What is the most important piece of advice you've been given in your career? 

Treat everyone with the respect that you'd want to receive, and NEVER assume anything. 

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is important?

The more diverse a place is, the more options are open. Diversity brings new ways of working and new ways of thinking.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing women of your age today?

The assumption is often that women will ‘settle down’ with marriage and children and not focus on careers anymore.

I think some companies will look at a woman my age without children and not want to employ us as we could end up costing the company money. This could be for paid maternity leave, or spending money training someone who may not return to work full time. This assumption may cause a company not to employ some younger women. 

If you could have dinner with 3 inspirational women throughout history, who would they be and why?

Queen Boudicca. When women had no say, she united different Celtic tribes to revolt against Roman rule. She was fierce and brave in the face of adversity. A Roman Governor, Paulinus, eventually defeated her in the battle of the West Midlands and she died shortly after this defeat.

Marie Curie. She changed the world by discovering radioactivity, which has created effective cures for some cancers. She is the only person, male or female, ever to receive two Nobel prizes in two different scientific fields and paid for this ground-breaking work with her life.

Emmeline Pankhurst. She founded the women’s social and political union to campaign for the parliamentary vote for women in Britain. She was charismatic and great with words, leading thousands of women to demand the right for women to be able to vote. She was imprisoned 13 times whilst pushing for our democratic rights.

Would you like to be a part of a group of people in Guernsey supporting the transition to renewable energy and a more sustainable future? 

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