Gazprom Energy’s Grace Rothery discusses her new role at the B2B energy firm
Grace, thanks for speaking to us. Can you tell us a bit about your current role at Gazprom Energy?
I’m currently Head of the UK business of Gazprom Energy, a B2B gas and electricity supplier. Essentially, my role involves leading our sales and operations functions to win, serve and keep our customers.
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I think I was probably attracted to the intellectual challenge, but I also recognised that a legal background could open up lots of other opportunities. This has definitely proven to be the case as I’ve recently moved from a legal to commercial role.
You started your career in private practice so what made you move in-house back in 2011?
I’d completed a few secondments whilst in practice, which showed me the impact you can bring by being a legal adviser at the heart of the business. I prefer helping to shape decisions from within, rather than advising from the side-lines.
What was the biggest surprise when you made the switch?
I was shocked that time recording had become totally ingrained in me! For my first year or so in-house I had a natural instinct to look for a clock to stop when I’d finished a piece of work. Needless to say that has waned over the years.
Was there anything you missed about working at a law firm?
As I’d joined a small legal team, I missed being surrounded by lawyers from lots of other disciplines who I could lean on for specific issues. However this just highlighted how important it is to build a good external network, which is something I’ve been mindful to cultivate since I left practice.
Earlier this year you became Head of UK Retail. What made you move away from legal?
I was looking for a new challenge, but I didn’t necessarily want to leave the company. I was attracted to the opportunity as it allowed me to continue to develop as a leader, applying my existing knowledge and skills whilst sharpening my commercial and financial acumen.
How tough was that decision?
Initially, it took a bit of thinking because I wasn’t desperate to move away from legal. However I came to the realisation that this could broaden my career horizons and so the opportunity felt too good to miss.
How has it been so far?
It has definitely been the challenge I was looking for, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m learning loads and have the support ooff brilliant management team around me, which is helping the transition massively.
What’s your five year career plan?
I try not to get too fixated on defining a career plan - I think that moving into my current role shows that it helps to be open minded to whatever opportunities come along. The main drivers for me as I move through my career will continue to be that I want to be challenged, constantly learning, and working for an organisation that values me.
Finally, what advice would you give someone looking to switch their career in a new direction?
I think it is really important to understand what motivates you in your career, because from there you can work out whether a new direction is going to help you. It is also worth remembering that switching in a new direction doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch, rather it is an opportunity to build on what you already have. Finally – be brave, and ask the stupid questions.