While in Israel, Keren graduated with an Environmental Engineering degree as well as a Masters in Public Policy. Since 2014, she joined Ofgem and is now using her knowledge and skills to make a real difference to the energy sector.
Tell us about your journey from starting out to your current role…
I studied Environmental Engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology and after graduation joined an engineering company specialising in water and wastewater infrastructure design. I then joined a small engineering consultancy and worked there for a few years. While working, I completed an M.A. in Public Policy. From that point there was no going back, as I realised the scope to make a difference and have a positive impact through working for government; I joined the Israel Water Authority to oversee the performance of private water companies, to make sure that they delivered value for money, benefits for consumers and the environment, and ensured security of supply for vulnerable communities (mainly minorities).
After getting married I followed my husband to the UK and luckily was accepted at Ofgem. Although I had no experience in the gas and electricity industry, Ofgem recognised that my background was still very relevant.
I joined Ofgem in 2014 and am now a Senior Manager, working in the Glasgow office. I work in the RIIO (price control) team, which sets the revenues network companies will be allowed to collect during the price control period, the obligations they will be held to, and monitors the companies’ performance relative to those obligations. Network companies own, deliver and maintain the infrastructure that delivers gas/electricity to homes, businesses and industrial customers.
Why is your role important?
My role is important because I can make a real difference to consumers. The development and maintenance of the network, which is the pipes, cables and facilities, makes up around 20% of the household gas and electricity dual fuel bill. Ofgem incentivises the network companies to invest where and when it is most needed, while ensuring that customers pay no more than is necessary and that they get value for money. We do this through price controls, which set the obligations (or “outputs”) to be delivered, and the maximum amount of money that network companies can charge their customers to deliver these. We set outputs in areas such as safety, reliability, environmental and customer satisfaction. We agree specific targets with each company and then use incentives, penalties, constant monitoring and our regulatory experience to make sure that the companies deliver on their commitments.
"As with so many areas, career prospects are what you make of them: Ofgem is keen to encourage people to succeed to their potential, but it’s up to you, as an individual, to decide how you want to develop your career and to identify opportunities to do so."
What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector?
I was in the water industry for several years and felt it was time to move on. When I was working as an engineer I took a course in gas systems design and was keen to specialise in this area. I didn’t have the chance to implement the knowledge as I was given the opportunity to work for the government in Israel, where the water sector is always challenging (and interesting). However, I always thought that the energy sector (especially electricity) is even more challenging and interesting, especially as we shift towards a low carbon environment.
What does an average day consist of?
Following a recent promotion, I now spend increasing amounts of my time engaging with stakeholders internally and externally. When I am outside of the Ofgem office, I am mainly meeting with network company representatives. We try to get out on site as much as possible, so that we continually enhance our understanding of the industry. This is especially important for individuals that don’t have an engineering background.
Which parts of your job do you find most rewarding?
I find it most rewarding when I feel that I really make a difference. This includes finding better ways of doing things (e.g. more efficiently) or identifying issues that were overlooked in the past but are actually quite important for our understanding of the performance of network companies. I personally also enjoy meeting with company representatives, as it always enables me to see and understand better how the industry works and what the drivers are.
"I find it most rewarding when I feel that I really make a difference."
What do you think of the career prospects?
Ofgem is very supportive of training and development. I was recently able to take a project management practitioner course that is already proving vital in my latest post. As with so many areas, career prospects are what you make of them: Ofgem is keen to encourage people to succeed to their potential, but it’s up to you, as an individual, to decide how you want to develop your career and to identify opportunities to do so.
Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?
I would definitely recommend this job to a friend. There are a few aspects to the job that are brilliant: first and foremost, unlike private companies where you are often encouraged to specialise in one area, government work enables you to work across a wide range of areas, and there is a good chance that you will be able to move around flexibly amongst these. There are also opportunities to progress, including through excellent training and development opportunities, without losing friendships and relationships that you have developed in the workplace, and to build up on your experience rather than starting from scratch. An additional benefit is flexibility. There is a good work-life balance here. Most of all though, working at Ofgem is an opportunity to feel that you are working hard to promote and protect important social, economic and environmental objectives.