In celebration of International Women’s Day

Published: 8 March 2021

At Energy Systems Catapult, we value diversity and equality. We are proud of the work environment we promote, which encourages staff to celebrate their diversity, and work to maintain an inclusive environment at all times. As an Equal Opportunities Employer, we continually strive to develop an environment through which the company can support and benefit from the widest possible range of knowledge, skills and experiences.

As part of International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate the many inspirational females in our organisation, from across various teams here at the Catapult. Below is a short profile of only a handful of these.



Ruth Babbington

Ruth is the International Delivery Manager here at the Catapult and leads on project delivery, using her skills in stakeholder engagement and project management. Ruth also leads on overseas market analysis and contributes to the team strategy.


What inspired you to get into your chosen career?

I started out on a humanities career path – theatre design and then languages – but had always been passionate about sustainability and the environment. The change came in 2010 when I decided to study for a second degree with the OU and I have never looked back. In my current role, I have it all – I’m contributing to a sustainable future and working with people around the world – it’s ideal.

What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

I’ve had loads of good advice. Often from women, not because they give better advice but because for me it feels more natural to discuss barriers and issues at work with other women. The one thing that stands out in my mind was from my mentor in 2017 – in times of strife when you’re in danger of getting weighed down with day to day problems, to focus on your longer-term strategy.

Do you have a female hero, and why?

I am a recent fan of Elif Shafak, a colleague introduced me to her. Her poetry is sublime, I would like to read her books soon. She is ‘trouble-maker’ too, like all the best people. Maya Angelou had a lot to say that speaks to my heart and brings courage to dark places. Sinead O’Connor was played a good deal while I was growing up and to me, she epitomises what it means to be female – simultaneously vulnerable and ferocious – and of course, she got into a lot of trouble too for stating her views.

 



Emma Harrison

Emma’s role at Energy Systems Catapult is Business Lead – Systems Integration. Emma provides technical leadership across a range of energy-related challenges and projects.  Key to this is engagement with stakeholders and leading multidisciplinary teams to deliver transformational projects – projects that create effective ways to decarbonise our energy system and deliver on the UK’s Net Zero commitment.


What inspired you to get into your chosen career?

I was always fascinated by engineering and my favourite subjects were Maths and Physics. As a child, my favourite toys were Meccano and electric experiment kits. I wanted to understand how things work and then apply this to create useful and interesting things to make people’s lives better. I wanted to change the world and I believed that engineering can make that happen. I ignored my teachers’ careers advice (“You’re top of the school, you can study anything – why would you study engineering?”) and, supported by my parents, I studied Electrical Engineering, graduating with a First Class degree in 1987. I become a Chartered Engineer in 1996 and completed an MBA with distinction in 1999.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women?

We are facing some of the biggest challenges experienced by humanity. That requires creativity and the ability to think outside the box and explore different options with an open mind, combined with great organisational and management skills, often multitasking and trading off between conflicting requirements. Women bring these skills and greatly improve the performance and leadership of teams. So my advice would be to believe in yourself, pursue your dreams, and don’t let prejudices stop you from fulfilling your potential.

Do you have a female hero, and why?

Marie Curie. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. It is even more impressive given that out of 210 laureates in Physics and 181 in Chemistry between 1901 and 2018, there were only three female laureates in physics and five in chemistry. She was the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris in 1906. She was also a wife and mother and her family has the most Nobel laureates to date.

 



Parm Nagra

Parm is the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Catapult and leads to general and commercial marketing, as well as the management of our brand assets and digital platforms.


What inspired you to get into your chosen career?

I always had aspirations to be a broadcast journalist but fell into marketing a little accidentally after university and enjoyed it. Before the Catapult, I have always worked for tech-oriented organisations and it’s been exciting seeing technology advance over the years and to be a part of the environment pushing it. Working at the Catapult allows me to see first hand the exciting progress which is being made in the challenges facing the UK on its road to Net Zero. I’ve been lucky to have some really wonderful managers and mentors who have developed me and encouraged me along the way.

What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

An early manager told me to recognise my potential and to push myself out of my comfort zone – the rewards are worth the fear! Other advice that has helped me over the years has centred around knowing my worth which has empowered me over time, and in the challenge to promote equality in the workplace, it’s to remember that equality isn’t a female/minority fight, it’s a human one.

Do you have a female hero, and why?

I’ve had many heroes over the years. The writings of Maya Angelou on equality, personal betterment, and civil rights have always resonated with me, and the many female pioneers before her are the stories I have shared with my daughter over the past few years. I am pleased that their stories are now being told for her generation. However, my heroes come closer to home in the shape of my sisters and friends who have all pushed boundaries and excelled in their chosen careers and paths. It’s a bit cliché, but I have always called my dad the biggest feminist in our lives. With five daughters, he made sure we had all of the opportunities he could afford, and really encouraged us to push the boat as far as we wish, sometimes fighting in the face of his extended family to do so.

 



Dr. Ines Tunga

Ines is a Renewables Practice Manager at Energy Systems Catapult and is responsible for renewables, wind, marine and solar, and their impacts on the UK energy system. She leads the Catapult’s work on renewable energy as the technical specialist – through projects, engagement with external stakeholders or supporting colleagues with their work when renewables enter the equation.


What inspired you to get into your chosen career?

I was inspired to get into the energy sector and now into renewables and engineering in my early youths, largely thanks to my dad. He was a chemical engineer working in a Zinc and Cobalt company.  The fascination to see uninteresting zinc lumps turned into pharmaceuticals, batteries, electrical equipment, etc. So, I studied Chemical Engineering, focusing on energy generation and use and specialised in Subsea Engineering and Renewable energy.

What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

I have been very fortunate to have had (and still have) a strong support network of inspiring colleagues, managers, academic supervisors, mentors, etc., that wanted me to achieve my best. Embracing new opportunities has helped me learn on the job, take on tasks that I was uncomfortable with, and secure the knowledge needed to succeed. Knowing that we are al our critics, it is important to believe in yourself.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women?
  • Be your passionate self, and never settle for less – challenge yourself, do it scared but do it anyway. And if you fail, try again!
  • Be kind to yourself – No one knows everything. Ask for help, advice and support.

 



Natalie Casey

Natalie, Head of Account & Bid Management, is responsible for the Catapult’s bid management, and the delivery of our key account strategy and procurement.


What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

Be authentic and always deliver on your promises.

Do you have a female hero, and why?

Wow I have so many… Maya Angelou, her writing is beyond inspirational. Dolly Parton as she’s such a wonderful humanitarian and inspirational businesswoman. Professor Siobhan Quenby as her pioneering work has changed the lives on thousands of families (including mine!). I find so many of my friends incredibly inspirational too including my best friend, Jane, who is an ITU nurse and has cared for COVID positive patients this the last year in horrendous conditions… my complete and utter hero.

What has been your most fulfilling achievement to date?

I love winning bids and I always get such a huge buzz when we are successful. But my most fulfilling achievement to date was winning an award a couple of years ago for the way I lead my team. Being recognised for helping and supporting others is the accolade of which I am most proud.

 



Rebecca Lane – Business Modelling Consultant

Rebecca’s work at the Catapult is to help develop propositions and business models to bring low carbon technology to market.


What inspired you to get into your chosen career?

I’ve always been interested in sustainability and the climate change challenge. I felt it wasn’t easy to know how to get into the sector generally, and I wasn’t sure what my skills were to progress this sector, so it has been a non-linear path to where I am now! I moved into the Business Modelling team from a recognition that businesses need to offer compelling low carbon products and services to consumers and companies to achieve the carbon emission targets.

What piece of advice has helped you most in your career?

‘What’s the worst that can happen’.. which is an alternative motivator to ‘back yourself’. It encourages me to put myself forward for things that are out of my comfort zone because the worst-case scenario is usually what you went for goes well as it results in more stress and effort.

Do you have a female hero, and why?

This has changed a lot for me, depending on where I am in my life. Now I would say Grace Beverley, the young female CEO of two sustainable sports brands that she founded in her last term of university during her finals. Although it clear her work ethic is insane, she talks openly about what success means individually and how to manage yourself to feel like you’re doing ‘enough’.