Sarah Ward – GC, UK Power Reserve...
I “officially” wake up just after 6am but I do generally have to force myself out of bed thanks to my nocturnally active four year old son! It is then all systems go as I have three children (13, four and one) and I insist everyone is dressed and downstairs for breakfast by 7am. Overly-structured and timetabled I know (a product of my background as a corporate lawyer, I suspect) but it is the only way I can cope with everyone’s competing needs in the morning. I leave the house at 7.35am and have a 20 minute drive to my office in Solihull (voted best place to live in the UK no less) which is an absolute delight as my previous commute was a 15 minute drive, 50 minutes by train and a 10 minute bus. Location, location, location!
I aim to be at my desk for 8am. I get a coffee in my personalised mug. Everyone has them in the team (emblazoned with our name and drink of choice) and they are just one example of what is great about working in a small (but perfectly formed) and close knit team. I will already have checked any late night/early morning email traffic on my phone by the time I switch on my laptop so have a good idea of what the morning might hold. I then survey my clothes for the results of the children’s sticky breakfast hands, remove someone’s morning Weetabix, take a deep breath and …………..think about my first task of the day. I am someone who likes to tackle my bigger and more complicated tasks head on and early morning so I always try to plan my morning in this way. The business is so dynamic though which means my carefully formed plans very often change.
No two mornings are the same. We are in serious growth mode at the moment by way of acquisitions and through the development of new sites. UK Power Reserve’s electricity plants help maintain security of supply to the UK all year round. I work closely with our COO, CFO, commercial director and development director to ensure we help to “keep the lights on”. The development of new sites typically requires my involvement in planning (I am currently amidst the submission of a series of planning applications), documenting the purchase of the engines we use to generate electricity, the design of the sites, engagement of contractors and construction matters.
Lunch is sometimes at my desk but I try to go running at least twice a week at lunchtime. I find it provides me with great thinking time. By the time I have finished my run I have usually worked out the answer to something I have been mulling over all morning – and feel very virtuous for exercising as well, so it’s a win win situation all round.
I usually have a number of internal meetings throughout the day discussing progress on our various projects and I may be drafting planning applications, construction contracts, asset purchase agreements, leases – it is so varied. I have a trainee and a temporary assistant helping me with the planning since that has involved a massive amount of work and document creation. I enjoy rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in though. Having done management and business development roles before in my career I know now that I actually really enjoy just doing the law thing.
I generally finish at the office at around 5.30pm (I start at 8am) so I can see my kids, and then catch up on emails later in the evening. If I have a significant piece of work to finish I would usually do it at home and email it back to my colleagues during the evening (remote access to the system means working at home is so easy).
We have a culture here of working hard but being flexible and recognising hard work. I really do love my job and feel excited to come in every day. I work really hard (it is “go, go, go” throughout the day) but I also have fun and work with a team of really great people. Not everyone can say that about their job. I never have Sunday evening/Monday morning dread – just the excitement and anticipation of what challenges the business will throw at me in the coming week.
As part of my role I attend some evening events but far less than I did in private practice. I have done a lot of business development in my time which has involved many evenings out. Now I feel I am getting a great balance between a job I love and which provides a real challenge, and spending quality time with my family.