Next up in our “A Day in the Life of an Energy Manager” series, we meet Jaz Rabadia MBE. Jaz is Senior Manager of Energy & Initiatives at Starbucks, UK, who gives us her insights into being an energy manager and how she got to where she is today.
Jaz is a qualified mechanical engineer with ten years experience in energy management and was the youngest person in the UK to receive Chartered Energy Manager status. She is a STEM ambassador, encouraging students and young women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and raising awareness about energy careers.
- Can you briefly sum up how you arrived where you are today, as Senior Manager of Energy & Initiatives at Starbucks and why you decided to work in energy?
Like most people I had no idea what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up’. I decided to study mechanical engineering at City University, London as it combined the subjects I loved; maths, science and design.
My interest in energy sparked when I took two additional modules in the final year of my degree. Studying renewable energy and energy management helped me see how engineering principles could be applied to help make the world a greener, cleaner and more sustainable place.
Before I knew it, I had to complete a project with a 20,000 word write up. I decided to undertake an energy study at the Sainsbury’s store where I was working part time. I carried out an energy analysis, developed project business cases and completed a colleague awareness programme. The head of energy was so impressed with my project he offered me a full time position in the energy team as soon as I graduated.
I’ve now been working in various energy roles for a number of retailers for nearly 10 years and I have loved every minute of it.
- In your experience working at Starbucks, and previously at Debenhams, can you tell us how important energy efficiency is to companies at the moment? Have you noticed a change in focus on energy efficiency since you started out your career?
Energy specialists are employed to help companies achieve their environmental and sustainability ambitions. Alongside this, energy can form a large proportion of company’s costs and there are often lots of opportunities to build in commercial and environmental efficiency through use of technology, procurement strategies and behaviour change.
These roles are becoming more and more common as companies are being driven by the corporate responsibility agendas, changes in energy legislations as well as increases in customer expectations.
In a global business like Starbucks which has a growing presence in over 70 countries across the world, it is crucial for us to create a culture of environmental stewardship.
“If I could give one piece of advice on building an energy management strategy it would be that the detail is in the data.”
- Energy,and more broadly, STEM, is a typically male-dominated field. More women are choosing to study STEM subjects, but we still see a gender gap in both education and the workplace. As a STEM Ambassador, what transformations do you think are necessary to close this gender gap?
I think we are making real headway in encouraging more girls into energy and STEM, but there is still a long way to go. By dispelling some of the myths around what an energy professional does and looks like and raising awareness of the diverse types of roles available we can encourage lots more. I didn’t know careers in energy engineering existed when I was at school and I want to change that for the students of today!
Ultimately this encouragement needs to start at home and then continue on into schools. We need to raise awareness of energy careers and showcase the many amazing women already in these roles. I believe practitioners have a duty to reach out and inspire the next generation of energy professionals.
- We are seeing great new opportunities for energy savings, with the Internet of Things, Big Data and software to manage energy use and make savings. How does data assist you in your work?
If I could give one piece of advice on building an energy management strategy it would be that the detail is in the data. Energy data is integral to validating the investments of the past and building the business cases for the future. It is at the heart of decision making and helps:
– Define procurement and budgeting energy volumes
– Improve energy tariffs and services based on demand profiles
– Develop engagement tools such as energy profiles, league tables
– Validate investments in energy efficiency technology
– Select the most energy saving technologies for future investments
– Ensure energy bills reflect actual usage
– Compliance with legislation such as CRC, ESOS and GHG reporting.
Of course data on its own is just a collection of numbers. The key to making the most of the vast amount of energy data we all collect is contextualising it and making it relevant to the end user. With more technology making it possible to gather, communicate and process large data sets, it’s becoming easier to give people actionable feedback. Analytics provides insights about energy patterns and is central to an effective energy management strategy.
- The energy market is ever evolving, with changing regulations, compliance and reporting requirements. How do you keep on top with all the industry news and developments? Do you use any particular resources or tools?
There are lots of resources available to help me keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry. I get a lot of my information from the Energy Institute particularly around legislation and compliance. I also use Energy Live News, it’s a great, free resource that produces engaging reports on all areas of energy. I find following energy professionals on social media channels, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter gives me access to wealth of information and articles that help expand my knowledge and learn from others experience
- You are a Chartered Energy Manager. Was this certification necessary for your work and would you advise other energy managers to pursue this or similar certification?
I was delighted to be the youngest person in the UK to have achieved Chartered status from the Energy Institute. For me, it gave me credibility amongst my peer group and was a great piece of recognition, showing that I had gained the practical and academic experience required to continue my professional development. This gave me great confidence, and shows that you don’t have to be old to be experienced. As the energy industry is so fast paced, continued professional development is key to making an impression with employers and staying abreast of what’s happening in the industry. I would certainly recommend other energy managers work towards chartered status.
- What are the key challenges facing you in your work to improve energy efficiency?
Communicating good energy management practices to the thousands of store partners we have is the most challenging aspect of the role. Although I have responsibility for devising the energy management strategy, I rely heavily on all partners to help implement it. Therefore effective communication and gaining buy in is key.
- Can you sum up in a few words what drives you in your work?
I love working in energy management as I see instantly the difference I am making to energy and water bills. The work that at I do not only saves organizations’ costs, but also makes them more environmentally responsible. I have the opportunity to travel and visit our stores to talk to them about energy saving opportunities. Every day presents a new challenge and no one day is the same. I don’t like seeing wastage and misuse of natural resources. There are still over 1 billion people in the world who don’t have access to electricity and so it’s really important for those that are fortunate enough to have it to use it responsibly.