She's an Engineer- Sophie Sudworth

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Route into engineering

I started my career working for SP Energy Networks firstly on a graduate training scheme which gave me an overall view of all areas of the business. Straight from this I joined the Design and Planning Team within Merseyside, where I live. This was predominantly working with customers on new network connections, designing these and producing quotations for customers. During my time in this role, I got involved with lots of different internal projects to build my expertise in areas aside from Design & Planning. I was promoted in this team from a Project Engineer to a Senior Engineer and worked on bigger and higher voltage connections. This role provided me with the knowledge and experience for my current role. 

Job description

In the area where I work, SP Energy Networks distribute electricity to the homes of people who live Merseyside, Cheshire, North Shropshire and North & Mid Wales. Specifically, my role is to understand how the electricity grid can help these local communities to become ‘Net - Zero’ in terms of Carbon Emissions. This is really important when we consider all we hear in the news about climate change. An example of why the electricity network needs to be ready for decarbonisation, is the fact that soon we will see more electric cars on our roads which will need to be charged through connections to our network.

My typical day consists of multiple working meetings to engage with local customers and stakeholders to better understand what decarbonisation means in their area. I can then take these ambitions away to quantify what this means for the electricity network. This requires electrical network modelling analysis - which is a form of physics. For instance, if a local developer wants to build homes equipped with low carbon technologies such as solar panels or electric vehicle charging, then I quantify how much electricity this will need. This in turn allows me to identify how much electric cabling, overhead lines, switches or substations are needed and at what voltage these need to be. I also need to determine how much this would cost using maths and business skills.

Definitely say yes to as many opportunities as you can! When I think of myself at 15, I probably would have been quite reserved in what I would get involved in based on my comfort zone. Over the years I have learned opportunities are there to be taken and in my early career I developed so much as an engineer by being involved in many different projects, with as many different people as I could. This may seem a challenge at first if you are unsure or don’t know people very well, but soon you will grow in confidence in yourself and your abilities.

I enjoy keeping healthy through exercising at the gym, exercise classes as well as scenic walks. I try to do some form of exercise every day as I find it’s brilliant to de-stress and boost my mood. Aside from this I definitely am a self-confessed ‘hincher’ and enjoy nothing more than cleaning, organising and tidying my home!! I enjoy travelling too. My husband and I are currently working through our ‘bucket list’ of locations we want to see. 

One of my proudest achievements has come from one of the best opportunities I have had in my career. I was involved in an amazing global project to create business improvement ideas with a team from Spain, USA and Brazil. Understanding the different countries, businesses and getting to work with colleagues from around the world was brilliant and gave me so much perspective of the global energy community. From this experience my team devised an idea to improve new skills, which I am currently leading the implementation of within the UK.

Through the diverse nature of the work I do to support decarbonisation, then this directly supports UN sustainable development goals 7, 9, 11, and 13.