In the latest of our series looking at the roles of women in the energy networks, Laura O’Donnell, Wales & West Utilities Despatch First Line Manager, talks about how she's delivering excellent customer service and keeping families and communities safe.
What’s your current role at WWU and what does your job involve?
I’m currently a First Line Manager in our Despatch team. We’re responsible for allocating emergency gas engineers to gas leaks 24 hour a day 365 days a year, helping them keep local communities safe. I lead a team of despatchers, who deal with emergencies over the course of our shifts.
What first interested you in being part of the energy industry and how did you join?
I wanted to work somewhere where every day was different, somewhere I could tackle new challenges and have new experiences regularly. A family member who worked in the industry told me to take a look at Wales & West Utilities which would fit that bill, and they were exactly right! No two days are the same and I have not looked back since I joined.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I am satisfied when we deliver outstanding levels of customer service – both as a company and as a Despatch team. But like most of my colleagues, I get real satisfaction from knowing that the work we are part of is essential to keep families and communities safe. I‘m so proud to be able to say I’m a part of the gas emergency service.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
Maintaining and building new relationships with internal and external customers across operational and back office staff to ensure Wales & West Utilities delivers on its metering contractual obligations, which covers planned maintenance and reactive work across all pressure tiers and attending over 100,000 metering jobs annually.
How do you bring your previous experience from outside the sector to your current role?
I gained communication and customer service skills from my previous career experiences as EXAMPLE. These skills are crucial when dealing with customers and I’m thankful of my previous experience, which has really helped me deal with challenging issues in my current job.
Now that COVID restrictions are being eased, what are you looking forward to post-pandemic?
A bit of normality! Simple things that we all took a bit too much for granted pre-March 2020.
Notes to editors
Previous energy networks profiles:
- Lynne McDonald, Smart Grids Engineer and Manager, UK Power Networks
- Myfina Goddard, Pipeline Apprentice, Wales & West Utilities
- Laura Dunn, Senior Delivery Engineer, SP Energy Networks
- Farina Farrier, Head of Open Networks at Energy Networks Association
- Katharine Clench, National Grid ESO's Regional Development Programme Strategy Manager
- Elena Theodorou, Energy Networks Association's data lead
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).
Energy supplier or network operator? Energy network operators are entirely separate to your energy supplier, which is the company that bills you for using electricity and gas. Energy suppliers and generators are represented by Energy UK.