September 2, 2014
Career Wednesday: Jaz Rabadia, Energy Manager at Debenhams
When I tell people I work at Debenhams, I can see their brain ticking. Usually they ask me which store I work in, quickly followed by ‘how much discount do you get?’ I love to see the look on their face when I tell them I work in the Head Office as an Energy Manager and am responsible for an energy bill of more than £35m!
10 Brock Street – Debenhams Head Offices
As an Energy Manager at Debenhams I am responsible for managing the electricity used to light the stores, the gas used to heat them, and the water used for cleaning and hygiene in stores. With utility prices increasing each year, this is becoming one of Debenhams’ biggest controllable cost lines and our usage has a big impact on the environment. It’s a demanding, but rewarding job where I get to apply my communication, creativity and engineering skills.
My job includes energy purchasing, negotiating energy supply contracts, implementing energy efficiency projects, setting accurate store budgets, developing environmental engagement tools and making sure the business complies with all environmental legislation.
I love coming to work and facing a new and different challenge each day, it’s very rewarding to see the difference I am making both to the energy bill and the planet. But, not many people are aware of the career opportunities in the energy sector, which is a real shame. In fact I only happened to come across this by chance myself.
Whilst studying for my degree in Mechanical Engineering at City University London, I worked part time as a checkout assistant in my local Sainsbury’s store. In my final year of my degree I took additional modules in Energy Management and Renewable Energy and it was then that I saw how engineering could be applied to make a difference for the worlds future energy demands.
When it was time to start writing my dissertation rather than take on the project title I was given (‘’A thermodynamic analysis of the combustion engine’’), I decided to create my own project (‘’The energy utilisation and management at Sainsbury’s’’). It seemed perfect, applying my engineering principles to a real life challenge; energy management in the workplace – and above all I could do my dissertation during paid working hours!
Once complete, I presented my study and its finding to Sainsbury’s Head of Energy who saw just how passionate I was; he even included a summary of my project in Sainsbury’s Corporate Responsibility Report. I maintained contact with him and soon after graduating (and some persistent communications); I received a call from him – offering me a job! It really was that simple and I’ve never looked back since.
As a female in energy/engineering, I often find that I am the only woman in the room. In the earlier stages of my career I saw this as a barrier, being the only woman in a room full of men can be quite intimidating. But as I gained confidence in my abilities, I saw this difference as a huge benefit. I had different ideas, approaches and ways of working that I could bring to the table. I realised that it was me that doubted my abilities, not everyone else in the room! I hope my story will encourage more women to consider careers in energy and engineering.
Over the years, my success has not been because of the answers I have given, but the questions I have asked.
My advice to readers would be to be hungry for knowledge, ask questions and never stop learning.
Written by Jaz Rabadia
Follow her on Twitter @JazRabadia