We know that people considering the Transpower Graduate Programme are curious to know what a typical day is like. This can vary considerably depending on what part of the business a Graduate's placement is in, however we are all ultimately working in line with Whakamana I te Mauri Hiko – Empowering our Energy Future.
Below is a summary of what one can expect from a typical day across each of Transpower's four engineering divisions.
Transpower’s Grid Development division identifies future needs for the national electricity grid over the next 20 to 30 years. These needs take into account changing electricity demand, changing generation, or replacement or repair of major assets due to corrosion or wear and tear. Grid Development also represents the core of Transpower’s Asset Management. Teams within the division include Asset Information, Asset Planning, Strategic Asset Management and Tactical Engineering (project support, standards and engineering expertise). There are also teams created for temporary but major business priorities.
As a Graduate in this division, you will be involved in many different elements on the Asset Management process, which may include reviewing condition assessment data, assisting with writing business cases for future work, planning expenditure and build, providing engineering project support, ensuring our standards are fit for purpose and much more. During your placement in this division there are some opportunities to venture out of the office, but this represents more of the technical side of Transpower and there is a lot to learn. You will certainly be kept on your toes and your problem-solving skills will be tested while here.
Grid Delivery is tasked with ensuring our grid assets continue to deliver electricity well to New Zealand. Formerly Grid Projects and Grid Service Delivery, the two divisions combined in 2019.
As part of the Grid Delivery rotation, Engineering Graduates will do a placement in the Projects team - the part of Transpower that turn plans into reality. The Projects team is oriented around delivering business cases – they can be as simple as replacing ageing batteries, or as ambitious as developing autonomous substation robots! We manage internal and external specialists to finish the design, procure the equipment and services, and ensure the health and safety of the work party, amongst a variety of other areas. This all results in a project that is on time and on budget.
As a newly placed Graduate in the Project team, you will start by shadowing project managers, learning what they do and assisting them where possible.As time goes on, and your confidence grows, you will find yourself assuming more responsibility for projects, culminating in the possibility of managing a project entirely yourself.
There is no typical day in the life of a project manager. You could find yourself one day in the office preparing contract documents, evaluating tenders and requisitioning materials, the next day locked in a meeting room, and the following day out on site overseeing the construction of equipment. This broad approach is a real advantage for Graduate Engineers who have limited practical experience in the industry - developing skills that will assist you wherever the future leads.
Your Grid Delivery rotation will also include a placement in a Service Delivery team which manages the day to day maintenance and emergency response on the grid. During this rotation, graduates get to spend quite a bit of time out on site.
On a typical day, you might have a site meeting to discuss what method you’ll use to maintain a piece of equipment. You’ll arrive at the office, grab a coffee and hop in the car with the local Service Delivery Manager. Once you get to site, you’ll put on your personal protective equipment and inspect the site with one of the contractors you’ll be working with for the day. You’ll discuss the methodology that they’re proposing, consider the impact that any proposed changes could have on nearby equipment, and identify any hazards that would need to be taken into account while completing the work. Then it’s back to the office, where you’ll write up what key decisions were made on site and communicate them to the project team. On office days, your tasks could include anything from helping the work schedulers to plan for the year ahead to writing proposals for changes to substations that would make maintenance safer and easier.
Transpower’s Operations Division works close to the action of operating the grid. The various teams work together to support our Control Centres by facilitating operations and decision-making for outages on the grid, managing the electricity market, as well as managing the tools which we use to observe and control the electricity market system. Working in a real-time environment provides many challenges and learning experiences, and with each experience a new opportunity to grow.
During this rotation, you will observe different aspects of grid operations and support these in action. You will sit in the control room and see the national grid managed in real time. You will also get to support the control room in the outage planning team, looking at the effect of outages on the state of the grid. In the markets team, you will look at market trends and analysis, seeing how factors like weather and network constraints affect the energy price. Finally, in the power systems team you’ll get to see how the grid is modelled and help support the tools used in the control room.