EirGrid working to transform itself as well as electricity network
Network operator ramping up recruitment as part of organisational change
EirGrid employs more than 630 people in total and recruitment is continuing at pace.
EirGrid’s €2 billion strategy to decarbonise the Irish electricity system is resulting in a transformation within the organisation as well. And this has led the organisation to ramp up its recruitment activities. “The nature of the work we undertake is changing and we have 30 vacancies advertised with more planned,” says Sharon Fleming, head of human resources and organisational development at the State-owned electric power transmission operator.
“Our new strategy has given additional impetus to us to get out into the market and engage with potential candidates in ways we haven’t done before,” she adds. “Last weekend we held two open days in the Ballsbridge Hotel and here in our HQ where we met 50 prospective candidates to talk to them about working with EirGrid. It would normally take us a full month to meet with that number of candidates.”
EirGrid employs more than 630 people in total and recruitment is continuing at pace. “We have 30 vacancies at the moment and that would have been a lot higher even two weeks ago,” she adds. “We have made 49 offers to candidates over the past month and we are filling roles very fast. Last week alone we filled four roles for PhD-level engineers.”
But it’s not just about engineers. “We are recruiting for all aspects of the business including project managers, data analysts, economists, graduates and so on,” says Fleming. “Our engineers are upskilling as the nature of our business has changed but we are now as much an IT business as anything else. We need people who are skilled at gathering data and building the systems to do that. We also need people who know what to do with it and can do the advanced analytics to extract value from the data.”
She points out that as a regulated business, economists have a very important role to play. “Economists are coming into their own in the business as the electricity market becomes much more complex. We are putting forward our submission for funding for the next five years. We have to demonstrate to the regulator that we are fulfilling our obligations and that our proposal is valid. This requires a very different skillset than in the past in light of the transformation programme.
“We also need business analysts, IT specialists and contracts people,” she adds. “Take the commercial contracts role on the Celtic Interconnector project, for example. That person may not even be in Ireland. There is usually only one transmission service operator in each country, so we have to look abroad for some skillsets. We have recent recruits from Jordan and Italy. Cybersecurity is another very big area for us. We manage the transmission of power around Ireland from our control centre and the potential risk around that is quite big.”
Vendor management is another area of growing importance. “A key part of our strategy is working in partnership with other organisations,” she notes. “We are quite frank about the fact that we can’t do it all ourselves. We need people to manage those relationships. These are different skills to those we would have had in the past.”
The organisation is taking a proactive approach to meeting the challenges presented by a very tight jobs market. “We are getting out there and telling our story. We are engaging with specialist recruitment agencies at home and abroad and we are advertising in very public spaces like Dublin Airport and the Dart. We have an alumni engagement programme as well.
“We had 4,000 applications for roles in EirGrid last year and we have gone back to those applicants to engage with them in a different way. If a candidate doesn’t get a role with us on the first occasion it may be that it just wasn’t the right time. There are always opportunities arising and we make sure to stay connected with people who have shown an interest in working with us.”
This is all aimed at building awareness. “EirGrid’s role will become more clear and obvious over time but the challenge now is to get out to a wider talent pool to let them know about the organisation and what we do, our purpose and the opportunities we offer.”
And Fleming believes EirGrid has a good story to tell. “We offer a highly competitive salary and benefits package, but that’s a given,” she says. “Nobody would come and talk to us unless we have that in place. What really interests people is our purpose. We are transforming the power system, not just maintaining or evolving it. We are working on the absolute transformation of the power system. It’s not just about the grid or the market, it’s about the whole system in Ireland and across Europe. It’s also about future generations and responding to the need to take action to tackle climate change and people can play a part in that by working at EirGrid.”