Day in the life: Marcus Spedding – O&M Service Manager at Solarcentury
In the latest of our “nice to meet you” series featuring Solarcentury people, Marcus Spedding discusses working as an Operations and Maintenance Service Manager for Solarcentury.
What does the O&M team do?
Operations and maintenance ensures the smooth running of all operations on the solar site following commissioning. We are responsible for planning and monitoring all activities on site, from vegetation maintenance on solar farms to swapping transformers. The office team coordinates activities for various trusted internal and external contractors. We also report directly to our clients on the performance of their assets and are the first point of contact for them within Solarcentury.
Is there a typical day in your role?
Although the nature of operations means there is usually no such thing as a typical day, there are some key activities which are performed on a daily basis. These include full checks of all the sites within our O&M portfolio as well as updating clients on activities and issues on sites. There are usually bursts of activity in the mornings when engineers perform planned maintenance or other tasks. Priorities constantly shift during any given day. Incidents which can interrupt the team have ranged from issues on the National Grid to a timid swan which needed rescuing from a site. We always thought they could fly!
What’s impressive about O&M at Solarcentury?
That’s very simple – it’s the people in the team. We tend to get very attached to sites and look after them as if they were our own. People get genuinely concerned when there are important issues to resolve on sites. Our internal engineers are some of the best in the business and have years of combined experience across a range of solar technologies. Solarcentury’s history in the industry means we can draw on a vast knowledge base which we can utilise to optimise site performance.
What’s the biggest challenge in your role on a day to day basis?
I’ve been working in my current role for almost a year and a half. Prior to that I was a coordinator looking directly after solar sites. Changing to a more managerial role has meant dropping that direct link with the sites, taking a step back and letting the team get on with the job. This was initially difficult but my worries were unfounded and the team has proved very capable in what they are doing, as exemplified by our excellent site availability record.
What motivates you?
The idea that what I do on a daily basis is contributing to a better future for the planet.
How important is work/life balance to you?
Very. I live just a 40 minute walk from the office which is a short commute for London. This allows me to do a good day’s work but also leaves time for hobbies and socialising outside work. I go to the gym a fair bit and also play the drums. I started archery last October which is great fun. It’s been indoor so far but I’m looking forward to shooting on an outdoor range in the summer.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to enter the solar industry and how did you get started?
I started with a broad set of skills and focussed them on the renewable energy sector whilst doing a policy based MSc in Sheffield. I got my first job in solar in Sheffield by walking up to the managing director of a small domestic installation company whilst he was opening his office and giving an ‘elevator speech’ introduction! My advice for people wanting to join, is simply to keep at it. You can have very specific or a more general set of skills, depending on the role you’re going for. As with any job, the more research you do into the area or company you apply for, the better.
What’s different/special/exciting about working for Solarcentury?
There is no rigid hierarchy in the company which makes for a relaxed social atmosphere. Because the company has been involved in development, build, O&M, and is now operating globally as well, there is good scope for moving roles within the organisation. This also allows people to pick up skills rapidly.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“Put yourself in their shoes”. It’s important to try and understand other people’s point of view – whether you agree or not with the point they are making. Empathy is very important in a customer facing role.
Read more from our day in the life series: