My journey from studying at Surrey, to working on renewable investments at Centrica

Hi, I’m Sarah and I studied Financial Mathematics BSc with a 1-year industrial placement and graduated in 2018 (can’t believe how quickly time has flown since then!). I will always think fondly of my time at Surrey – from how amazing the lecturers were, to many hazy memories of back-to-back nights out with now lifelong friends.

How my uni experience prepared me for working life:

Completing a placement year during my course was invaluable. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to develop within the professional working environment; gaining a better understanding of where my career interests lie; and adjusting to working life, whilst knowing I still had a final year of university to pull relevant experiences into graduate role applications (and one more year of partying!).

What appealed to me about becoming a commercial analyst at Centrica:

My placement year as an analyst at Volkswagen Group highlighted to me that my longer-term career aspirations were to pursue a career as an analyst, due to the varied projects and opportunities to apply my numerical focus into real life applications.

The energy industry always stood out to me as such an interesting sector to explore due to the vast scale of the industry, and the ever-changing regulations; market conditions; and development of renewable technologies.

One of the many reasons that I applied to the Centrica analyst scheme was the rotational placements it offered, spanning the breadth of the company, which would give me so many opportunities to develop a broad range of technical skills and competencies. Centrica Plc’s customer base spans such a wide capture, including BG; Hive; and Local Heroes, so there are so many technical, commercial, and strategic roles to explore.

My job highlights so far

After rolling off the graduate scheme in Sept 2020, my main focus has been on the investment analysis of large-scale renewable technologies and site development acquisitions. This means I have the opportunity to visit pre-constructed solar sites and get a real technical, tangible understanding of what the business cases I spend my time working on actually amount to. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that we are all working towards cleaner, renewable energy with multiple large corporations engaging in corporate power purchase agreements.

My advice to you

Don’t ever doubt your experience – everything you’ve worked on up to this point in your life has made you the person you are today. Be proud of all you’ve achieved, tell people about it, and network with everyone!

The placement or graduate role you apply for doesn’t mean you have to commit to this industry forever. Take every employment opportunity you can by the horns and really commit yourself to getting as much out of every opportunity you can. “You won’t hit the target if you haven’t pulled the trigger”.

In my experience, employers want to see your personality, they don’t want a cookie-cutter candidate. Be yourself, ask loads of questions, and keep up to date with the company and industry news.