Aimee Clark

In truth, I’ve always been a bit of a science nerd.

Ever since I was a kid, I’d pop some of the food from my dinner plate into a petri dish to examine it later in my microscope. I was quite concerned about our planet and the creatures in it, as my classmates would tell you from my animal testing protests!

So when I was thinking about what to study at university, engineering seemed like a good fit – developing nerdy solutions to solve social problems.

While at university, I joined an organisation called Enactus who encouraged students to run social enterprise projects in their local and international communities. It was a great opportunity to apply the things I’d learnt in my degree to real life and to build my confidence and business skills.

Before I knew it, I was graduating and had to decide what I wanted to be as a grown up (which nobody ever knows) but I thought energy was a pretty exciting area.

I spent the next decade working in lots of different roles across the energy industry – commercial, partnerships, product, pricing – in a conscious effort to broaden my experience & perspective.

Eventually I landed in my current role at Octopus Energy, which has been my most rewarding one yet as, along with my brilliant colleagues, I have the opportunity to help a whole generation of people move towards a greener (low carbon) future.

I’m also proud to support NMITE, a groundbreaking new university that’s disrupting the traditional education model to create work-ready, world-ready, diverse engineers, as a Trustee/ Non Executive Director.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I spend a lot of time pondering my career but not sure if I’d call it planning! More chatting to people, asking about their careers, reflecting on my career and trying out new things.

I discovered a great article once on a yoga retreat (which then consumed me for the rest of the trip) – how to change your career from your deckchair. The reason I like it is it focuses on what motivates you as a human, which I think is key to figuring out what you want to do when you grow up.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I think probably the scariest moment was when I left my previous company to take voluntary redundancy. I’m naturally risk averse, so it was a big move for me to leave something so familiar and dive into the abyss of unemployment!

I reached out to my network and was amazed at just how supportive and helpful everyone was around me. It showed me how important it is to keep relationships going, to ask for help when you need it and to help others when you can.

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What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’d have to say when I was pitching a project idea to the Bolivian government in my university days.

I rocked up unannounced in my socks and sandals (it’s surprisingly cold in La Paz) and presented to them in broken Spanish. I thought they’d laugh me out of the room but they were fully behind the project and helped me to find a local charity partner.

It was a defining moment that I try to think about whenever I’m feeling afraid to do something!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Honestly being a woman in tech/ engineering, where women are still (sadly) very underrepresented but it does give us an opportunity to bring a different and much needed perspective to the industry.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

To an individual in general, I’d say to keep learning, trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

To a woman, I’d say don’t try to conform to other people around you and focus on
what makes you unique. Sometimes your “female” qualities are your superpower!

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are definitely still barriers for women in general but especially in tech and engineering.

I once had a word with a male colleague after he called me “bossy” in a meeting (an offensive word pretty much solely aimed at woman, when they have the audacity to act like a boss). I’ve also heard stories of women telling their male colleagues to “man up”, which is equally damaging.

The more we reinforce these stereotypes, the easier it is to hold back women’s progress, so it’s important to speak up when it happens.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think there are some fundamental policies, which all companies should have to ensure women progress at the same rate as men, like shared maternity/paternity leave and gender pay reviews.

But to be effective there needs to also be a cultural acceptance that men and women can do the same things – whether that’s taking time off to be a parent or representing the company on your board.

Really it starts with us all looking at the people we work with and saying are we treating them any differently because they’re a woman or a man?

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I’d use my magic wand to wipe clean all our innate gender biases!