In 2010, in my early 40s, I had completed 20 years in the executive training sector. However, I decided I wanted to do something else for the next 20 years and had always been interested in energy.
With a full-time job and family, it was impossible to take a 1-year Masters, so I chose the Heriot-Watt distance learning MSc in Renewable Energy Development. This programme is extremely flexible, allowing you to learn and take modules at your own pace. You have several years to complete all the modules, so there isn't too much time pressure, ideal for busy people.
The content of the MSc is excellent. You cover the whole of the energy industry – including oil, gas and nuclear – so you can see where renewables fit into the wider energy world. The degree includes elements of maths, physics, economics, general science, philosophy, environmental science, law, project management, financing, etc. So there's never a dull moment and it's a stimulating ride from one subject area to another.
Towards the end of the degree, I managed to get a job as MD of SunSmart Energy Ltd, a solar PV design and installation company. I was given the position for two reasons:
- my transferable, generic business skills, plus
- my industry specific knowledge gained on the MSc
I wouldn't therefore have been able to make the move into renewables, mid career, had it not been for this MSc and my thanks go to the entire Orkney team - professors and administrative staff alike – for their dedication, support and superb course design.