Tina Raleigh is a renewable energy expert and is the current head of offshore wind at Statkraft Ireland. Already with over two decades of experience in the sector, her expertise spans all aspects of environmental, infrastructural and energy projects – from inception, and planning right through to detailed project design and construction. Here she shares more about her career journey to date.
Did you always want to work in renewables?
The job I do today did not exist when I was filling in my CAO form! However, caring for the environment was top of my list. That led to my career choice in college, which in turn has led me to my career today working in renewable energy.
In college, I studied… civil and environmental engineering. My thought process at the time was to work outside of the office environment and to be involved in a career that could make a meaningful positive impact on the environment.
My most formative work experience was… one summer I worked in Rathfredagh Chesire home which is a residential centre for people with physical, sensory and neurological conditions. This job taught me real empathy and gave me a great perspective on life – be kind and live life to the fullest.
My first real job was… working as a waitress in a restaurant in Boston. This was a great experience in dealing with the public.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… that people make an organisation. I work in a fantastic company in Statkraft Ireland. The management team have developed what I feel is a unique culture; they promote growth while keeping that family feeling within the organisation.
A common misconception about what I do is… that engineering is a man’s world! It’s been great to witness more and more women enter this line of work. When I graduated in 1996, I was the first female engineer at my first company. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.
My main responsibility in work is… to develop an offshore wind portfolio for Statkraft in Ireland and help Ireland to reach its targets of 7GW of offshore wind by 2030. Being part of an industry where we are responding directly to the climate crisis and enabling Ireland to achieve energy security is a role I take great pride in.
Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
I have been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing people since graduating, these people have supported and guided me through my career to date. They have made a real positive impact on my career. It’s great to have someone to go to bounce ideas and problems off and see a different perspective, especially when you find yourself at a career crossroads.
The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… a number of years ago, I set up my own company offering strategic advice to renewable energy clients. This allowed me the flexibility to work the hours which suited my home life with small kids. Now that the kids are older, I am back in the workforce as an employee but in an environment that allows for that work-life balance we all strive for.
I wake at… 6:30am.
The first thing I do every morning is… walk the dog – this allows me the time and space to prepare for the day ahead and helps the dog to burn off some of her excess energy!
My morning routine is… after walking the dog, I get ready for work, and make breakfast and lunches for the kids. My husband normally drops the kids to school allowing me to beat the traffic and get into work.
I can’t go to work without… a coffee. I know it’s very cliché! We have a great coffee machine in the office and there is nothing better than sitting at my desk setting myself up for the day with my first coffee, especially before heading into a busy calendar of meetings.
I travel to work by… car. Unfortunately, there is no alternative for me to get to work by public transport. I have a hybrid car though and I have the facility to charge on-site at the office.
On an average workday I… no two days are the same for me, which I really enjoy. I spend a lot of time with my project teams progressing our offshore projects through the development phase, this includes regulatory, engineering, consenting and commercial aspects of projects.
I start my working day at… between 8am and 8:30am, depending on the traffic.
The first thing I do at work is… after my first coffee, I go to my calendar for the day and check that I am prepared for the day ahead and prioritise my to-do list.
I usually spend the first portion of the day… on Teams calls or at meetings. I work in a dynamic team that is spread across many different European countries. Covid has taught us that we can work effectively and efficiently even when working remotely from each other.
I break for lunch at… around 1pm and I normally have a salad or soup. I make sure that I have my lunch away from the desk and engage with my colleagues – it’s a great break away from the screen and an opportunity to catch up with my office friends.
The most useful business tool I use every day is… is Microsoft Teams. It keeps us connected in a way we have never been connected in the past. It allows for colleagues to communicate and engage without adding to our air miles…..
I save time by… delegating effectively. I’m very fortunate to have a great team that I can trust.
I rarely get through my working day without… a good laugh. I work with a great team, and while we all work hard, there is a nice team environment where we always have time for a good giggle.
The best part of my day is… gathering around the kitchen table at dinner time with my family and sharing stories from our day.
The most challenging part of my day is… the transition between home and work life. For me, one of the real benefits of going back to work in the office is that it allows the time and space to transition from the work environment to the home environment and allows me to be a mum when I walk in the front door.
I know it’s been a good day if… an issue which was a problem at the start of my day has been managed effectively and is no longer a problem at the end of my day.
I usually end my day at… 5:30pm. I leave the office by 5:30pm so that I can get home in time to have dinner with my family.
I switch off from work by… exercising. I go to the gym twice a week, run and walk the dog. My kids are involved in lots of sports, so I also spend a lot of my time at the edge of the pitch which is very rewarding and allows you to switch off from work and concentrate on home life.
Before I go to bed, I’ll… switch off all the electrical appliances in my house. When I was younger, we had a house fire and as a result, I am very conscious of fire safety in the house.
I often prepare for tomorrow by… I set the table for breakfast the night before and always get the porridge made the night in advance.
After a long work week, I destress by… cheering on the kids from the sidelines, keeping up with my own exercise regime and generally spending time with my husband and kids.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… my family. I have an amazing, supportive husband, without whom I could not do my job. My children are precious to me and it’s a real privilege and honour to watch them grow and develop… well most of the time!
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… there are many avenues to entry into the renewable energy sector. Within our organisation, there are accountants, HR specialists, engineers, environmentalists, technicians, planners and administrative staff to name a few. This is a growing and exciting sector with many opportunities.
I’ve just finished working on… preparing an offshore wind project to enter into the offshore renewable support scheme. Following this, the project will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission and will commence construction in the coming years.