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People in Energy - James Hellard, Senior Design Engineer at MAATS Tech Ltd

People in Energy - James Hellard, Senior Design Engineer at MAATS Tech Ltd


How did you get into the Energy sector and how long have you been working in it?

After graduating from university, I held a few short-term contract roles in different sectors while applying for graduate roles. One of my temporary contracts was a maternity cover admin role for MAATS Tech. When I left that role for a CAD designer contract for a ventilation company, John Holt, founder and MD (at the time) of MAATS Tech, had reviewed my CV and said that there could be a job for me in the Engineering Office. After my contract with the ventilation company ended, I had moved to the same area as the Engineering office so got back in touch with John who set up an interview. I have now been a Design Engineer at MAATS Tech for 7.5 years.

What does your job involve on an average day?

Generating and developing designs from concept through to production, predominantly using 3D CAD in the form of Autodesk Inventor. Supporting the wider team with any 3D CAD challenges as this has become my forte. Interfacing with clients and suppliers through design reviews and progress meetings.

How have you coped personally and as a company with the pandemic?

Personally, I have really struggled at times – travel and social interaction is a large part of my life, both in and outside of work. The pandemic has had a significant impact on many of our projects, significantly the challenges with providing support for installation and commissioning, which we are still managing to do either remotely or navigating the changing quarantine rules. For the most part however, the transition to the entire company working from home went well, given the short space of time in which it happened. I was involved with supporting the team with IT and software issues. The use of Microsoft Teams has enabled direct communications and meetings to continue and, whilst it is no replacement for face-to-face client and colleague interactions, it has been a very useful communication tool. One benefit of the new remote way of working is the expansion of the talent pool available to companies for new hires.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The travel and immersive opportunities I have had right from the start of my career at MAATS have been excellent and were eye opening as a recent graduate. I have continued to be involved with the manufacturing processes and commissioning of machinery which has provided invaluable experience and understanding of the equipment and its environment. This in turn improves my ability to design equipment to suit our manufacturing processes and end users.

What ambitions have you still got to fulfil professionally in your career?

The first large piece of equipment for which I was appointed lead designer was the loading arms on the Nexans Aurora CLV. I designed these several years ago now, but they are currently being installed on the vessel and I am eager to see them finished and operating in their prominent position on the vessel.

If you were inviting guests to a dinner party, which 4 people that you have worked with previously would you invite and why?

I endeavour to get on well with everyone I work with. Right now, a dinner party would be breaking social distancing rules!

Who has been the most influential person in your life professionally?

Paul Turnock (known as PT), the head of design at Brunel University while I was there, was a very charismatic lecturer and really inspired my passion for design as a student. He was one of the key reasons I chose that course and he challenged us right through every year of it! That passion for design has become a career.

Over the next 10 years, what do you think will be the key challenges in the energy sector in the UK?

I think two of the major challenges facing the energy sector, as with most industries, will be the aftermath of COVID and Brexit. Both have already had a major impact on international travel, manufacture and production and I think will continue to do so for some time.

Specific to the energy sector and linked to a project I have worked on recently; I think the challenges of ever-expanding wind farm projects pushing into deeper waters with larger turbines will be pivotal.

Given the experience you have now, what advice would you have given yourself when you were just starting out in the Energy sector?

As an Industrial Design graduate starting out in a heavy engineering company, I remember being concerned that I was out of place and didn’t have the relevant knowledge and experience – which, looking back, is how any graduate must feel when starting out. So, the advice I would give my younger self is that my skill set was entirely applicable to the job and that the industry specific knowledge would come with time and experience.

Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE.

Published: 06-04-2021

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