Background: Alison Taylor joined OPEX Group in April of this year, taking on the role of Emissions Reduction Lead. With a strong track-record as an HS&E Manager within the oil, gas and energy industry and as an Environmental Management Technical Lead with the Government’s regulatory body, Alison is passionate about helping companies prepare for a net zero future.
How did you get into the Energy sector and how long have you been working in it?
I started working in the energy sector way back in the 1990’s. I was always a science geek, and my first job was working for a drilling fluids company, starting in the lab then working my way up to HSE Manager. I spent some time in the construction industry as the HSE Manager for a factory in Dunbar, but ultimately the lure of energy pulled me back to Aberdeen. What is startling about energy is how much it has changed in the last 30 years - I am not sure I could ever have imagined the career I have had.
What does your job involve on an average day?
OPEX is a really dynamic company, and average days are hard to define. My day usually starts with the daily ops meeting - pretty standard for most of us in the sector - but then it can involve anything from working on the development of a new product and supporting the team with legislative requirements, to looking at developing trends in the sector.
OPEX provide a range of AI-driven software products that are helping customers optimise energy efficiency and reduce flaring and venting. AI can see things humans can’t, and our “Emissions.AI” solution is helping a number of our customers to monitor, reduce and control their operational emissions.
How have you coped personally and as a company with the pandemic?
Personally, the honest answer is badly! I am a sociable person - I like to spend time with the teams I work with, not just professionally but also socially. I have found this last lockdown challenging. I think many of us have struggled with the isolation. I think it’s right for us to acknowledge and share that, so we know we are not alone. I am lucky enough to have had my first vaccination and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work at home and contribute in small ways to preventing the spread of COVID, but like many others I am very glad the end of lockdown is in sight.
For OPEX, like many companies, the past year has brought challenges, but also a number of opportunities. It’s exciting to be joining them at a time when they are rolling out so many new solutions.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
That’s a really difficult question, as there have been many things I am incredibly proud of. It could be the projects I have been lucky enough to be part of, or the major exercises I co-ordinated, but I think what means most to me are the little wins. The times when you manage to change someone’s mind, and they decide that they will do things differently, which then reduces environmental impacts - they feel the most significant. Those collective wins probably have bigger consequences than I will ever know and will hopefully snowball into a larger cultural change.
What ambitions have you still got to fulfil professionally in your career?
Having decided that I needed to know more about energy law, especially renewables, I recently returned to part-time study. I am undertaking my MSc/LLM in Oil, Gas and Renewable Energy Law at RGU.
Being a small part of the solution to climate change is definitely my over-riding career ambition. I am lucky enough to be working in the energy industry at a time when everything is up for grabs. As an environmentalist it’s exhilarating to feel you can be part of the solution and I am absolutely convinced that as a sector we are fully equipped and have the resolve to find the right answers.
Over the next 10 years, what do you think will be the key challenges in the energy sector in the UK?
The next ten years will see dramatic shifts in how we live our lives, yielding lots of challenges for the industry to contend with. We need to provide the solutions for our customers, the energy supply and the cultural shift we all need to make, whilst still providing the products we need during the transition.
Emissions reduction is a key and urgent priority for the oil, gas and energy industry right now, and going forward. I’m proud to be a part of the solution here at OPEX Group.
Given the experience you have now, what advice would you have given yourself when you were just starting out in the Energy sector?
I would say just get stuck in, don’t be afraid to try something completely new and out of your comfort zone. You never know what you are capable of until you try!
Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE.