As we celebrate International Women’s Day, this is the first of a new, ongoing ENA series looking at women in the energy industry. Elena Theodorou, Energy Networks Association’s Data Lead, gives her views on her role and the importance of data in a smarter energy system.
What’s your current role at ENA and what does your job involve?
I am Energy Networks Association’s Data Lead. There are two key components to my role – looking at how we use and manage data within ENA along with how the energy networks will use data to deliver a Net Zero energy system.
One of my key roles is looking at how we deliver the recommendations of the government’s Electricity Data Taskforce (EDTF). I lead ENA’s Data and Digitalisation Steering Group, which is comprised of senior members of all gas and electricity networks. This group has been leading on work coming from the EDTF but is now transforming into a mechanism for networks to proactively identify opportunities for collaboration in the data and digitalisation landscape.
I am also leading a data transformation programme for ENA. We’re at the beginning but I’ve kicked off a project to fully map data flow through ENA, to set up data governance structures, and to create and execute a 12-month development roadmap.
What first interested you in being part of the energy industry and how did you join?
I’ve worked in the charity sector for 10 years and was looking to a new challenge. Data and digitalisation seemed to be pivotal to the changes that were needed in energy industry to achieve Net Zero and I wanted to be at the centre of a fast-paced, exciting area of work.
What’s the most interesting/rewarding part of your job?
I find it really interesting talking to so many people from different organisations on a daily basis. It’s great to have that insight by being plugged into their individual data and digitalisation work. I also really enjoy demonstrating the value of data to people who haven’t been able to see it before and witnessing the lightbulb moment!
It’s also really rewarding when you actually get a project to the start line. Especially when you’ve brought members together, done all the hard work and everyone’s collaborating with a common goal.
Most recently I’ve led on launching a ground-breaking, proof-of-concept project that uses the power of data to support a more efficient pathway to Net Zero. When it’s live it has the potential to be a really important way for energy networks to serve their customers by helping them develop quicker, more efficient, and cheaper ways to deliver a cleaner energy system.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
The biggest challenge is definitely being a new starter in a pandemic and missing out on all of snippets of information that you would get just from being around other people in the office.
I enjoy learning about a new industry, it’s difficult having the discipline not to want to know everything about the engineering side of things, and recognising when I know enough to be making informed decisions.
Learning all the acronyms is another big challenge!
How do you bring your previous experience from outside the sector to your current role?
Before ENA I’ve worked as a consultant which has helped hugely with stakeholder management.
When it comes to data, the same challenges are relevant to all organisations regardless of industry. There will be people at different levels of data maturity and I have a huge amount of experience in bringing people on their own data ‘journeys’.
Charities tend to have many different data sources and databases. The understanding built and experience I’ve had over the last ten years of integrating these has lent itself well to some of the projects being undertaken by the networks to standardise and integrate their data.
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.