National Grid is at the heart of the green energy transition – helping deliver power generated offshore to millions of homes and businesses across the country.

The organisation’s graduate development scheme is the perfect opportunity for young people to support the UK’s net zero ambitions.

Having taken on 107 graduates in 2023, National Grid is expected to take on another 164 in September.

Trust Asaba is on his second rotation of the 18-month graduate scheme, which comprises three six-month rotations.

His first rotation was as an EPC project manager (engineering, procurement and construction) on National Grid’s Sea Link project, a predominantly offshore 145km cable connection between Kent and Suffolk.

He is now working with the digital transformation team to see how technology can be used to enhance engineering on projects – and will return to the Sea Link project next year.

The statutory consultation on Sea Link – part of National Grid’s wider infrastructure project The Great Grid Upgrade – received more than 2,700 responses between October and December 2023.

National Grid is currently in the process of reviewing this feedback, which will help it to develop and refine its proposals.

Trust applied for the National Grid graduate scheme after completing two master’s degrees, one in petroleum engineering and another in project management.

“Mathematics and physics were my strengths at university,” he said. “I like to solve problems and try to make complex things easier to understand – and that’s one of the reasons I ventured into project management.”

As an EPC project manager, a key part of Trust’s role was to receive information from engineers and communicate it in simple terms to stakeholders, including the general public.

“One of the ways that I engaged with stakeholders was through the statutory consultation,” said Trust.

“The engineers brought different ideas and designs for the Sea Link project, such as where they will place the cable converter substations, and how they will connect to another substation that feeds electricity to homes and businesses.

Eastern Daily Press: Trust visited a number of National Grid substations during his first rotationTrust visited a number of National Grid substations during his first rotation (Image: National Grid)
“We then spoke with people in local communities because they are the main stakeholders for the project,” he added. “We spoke to them about the proposals, and they had a chance to give us their feedback, which we incorporated in the project plan. That is an ongoing process.”

As well as finding qualified contractors to deliver construction work for Sea Link, Trust also had an opportunity to work with multidisciplinary experts at National Grid, from consent and procurement teams through to operations managers.

“It was a wonderful experience,” he said. “I did so much in such a short period of time.”

Trust visited a number of National Grid substations during his first rotation, travelling around England and into Wales at the Flintshire Bridge converter station.

A personal highlight was a visit to Grain LNG in Kent, Europe’s largest liquefied natural gas terminal.

“It’s an amazing feat of engineering,” Trust said. “We had a chance to climb to the top of a gas tank. The roof was built on the ground, and the pressure used to push it to the top of the building is not even as high as the pressure you put in your car tyres.”

Trust’s enthusiasm for engineering saw him squeeze a lot of learning in between his various site visits – all funded by National Grid.

“In those six months, I did about 65 courses,” he said. “I also did a project management qualification with the Association for Project Management (APM), which I’m still awaiting the results for.”

Trust added that an engineering background isn’t essential for other young people looking to pursue it as a career.

“When people talk about engineering, sometimes they think it’s all about mathematics and calculation, but in reality, that’s not the case,” he said.

“At National Grid, you have the opportunity to experience other parts of the business. Even without an engineering background, you can easily transfer your skills to different areas, including project management, procurement, strategy, sustainability and human resources, to name a few.”

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This article is part of LOCALiQ's Clean & Green campaign, which aims to promote our region as the biggest in the UK and Europe for all forms of renewable energy.