By understanding key financial terms and processes, you will gain improved alignment and increased efficiency for future conversations with accountants and procurement.
Verified by an engineer
Eleanor graduated in Civil Engineering from Newcastle University in 2022. She joined SSE Renewables soon after as a Graduate Engineer and has relished her first year with the company, which develops and operates onshore and offshore wind farms and hydroelectric generation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
“At SSE my days and projects are so varied” says the 23-year-old from Bedfordshire. “On the Graduate Scheme, you can tailor your placements to your interests and skillsets. They each last for about three months. It has been an excellent start to my career. I was given the opportunity to work offshore for two weeks at the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farm. When completed, it will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm. It was incredible to see the scale of the project in person. I have also travelled to Shetland to visit the construction of the Viking Wind Farm.
“My current placement is with the Hydro team, undertaking flood risk assessments of some of SSE’s hydroelectric sites. During this placement, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Coire Glas site in the Scottish Highlands, the first large scale pumped storage project to be developed in the UK for more than 40 years. It is so re-affirming to see the positive impact engineering can have on the world.”
Why the Financial Management course?
“I really enjoyed studying civil engineering at university and the breadth of topics it covered. However, my knowledge of the financial aspects of this industry were lacking. When you get your first post-graduate job, you realise that money is the foundation for everything, especially in a large company like SSE Renewables. I was starting to be exposed to NECs (new engineering contracts), contractors, their cash flow issues and so on – and I realised I had a knowledge gap about corporate financial management.
“I was also about to undertake a placement with the Procurement and Commercial team, and I wanted to understand their world. As an engineer, it will be really helpful in the future to be able to use the correct terminology when I communicate with them. It makes conversations much easier when you understand the financial principles.
“I researched available courses and the IMechE training looked really interesting. I showed the course to my line manager, explained why we wanted to attend, and he said, ‘Yes, that looks perfect.’”
What was your experience of the course?
“The course was held at the IMechE offices and it was a fantastic course. We had some online, pre-course engagement to complete. It was really useful to help focus on the topics we were going to cover on the course.
“The trainer for the two days was Paul Taylor. His teaching style was very engaging. Paul took us through a workbook he had made for us but stopped quite often to discuss examples and answer questions. I liked being able to annotate the workbook rather than make notes on a laptop.
“It was quick paced which kept it interesting. We worked through an example case study of an ice cream company manufacturing and selling one litre tubs of ice cream, which was effective as it brought the content back to basic principles that we could all understand.
“We were given an interactive spreadsheet where we could change the numbers – say double the number of units produced – so that we could see the impact on manufacturing cost, profit and loss, and so on. It was a small-scale example, but you could see how applicable the lessons learnt were to any business.”
What are the key reasons someone should attend Financial Management course?
1 “It was a content-filled course delivered in a timely manner and suitable for all stages of a career. Our group of six ranged from graduate engineers, like myself, to a senior manager in a vehicle manufacturing company.”
2 “By understanding key financial terms and processes, you will gain improved alignment and increased efficiency for future conversations with accountants and procurement.”
3 “If you have multiple contractors, this course helps you understand their position when discussing contracts. You can see how important cashflow is to the health of all companies involved.”
What’s been the impact?
“Engineering is such a vast sector – good financial management is vital. The course was very helpful for me to understand why certain decisions are made in one business area, in order to support another. It was about understanding the bigger picture.
“We covered a vast range of topics – from turnover and balance sheets to income statements and EBITDA. I am still learning and find referencing the course workbook continues to help me with my financial knowledge.”
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
1 “I would recommend general reading around the subject beforehand, to gain an appreciation of some of the terminology. That way, you will be able to ask more questions.”
2 “Don’t panic! Paul describes everything really well and very thoroughly. He starts at the beginning and builds up your understanding over the two days.”
3 “It was too early in my career to bring in any topics to discuss from my workplace, however the more real-life examples you can bring, the better.”
“SSE Renewables, as a company, is very keen for us to learn as much as possible, so I am looking for more courses I can do with the IMechE. I prefer the one- or two-day courses as they contain the right amount of digestible information.
“These courses are so useful as you learn from other people who have similar careers in engineering but, at the same time, who are also very different as engineering is so vast.”