Q&A with External Affairs Manager, Emily Wilson-Gavin

We caught up with External Affairs Manager, Emily Wilson-Gavin to find out more about her experiences influencing policy makers and working in the North London network. 

What is your role with Cadent? 
I manage the relationships with external stakeholders within our North London network and within Westminster and Whitehall. 

What does it involve? 
Building and maintaining strong and progressive relationships with policy makers, legislators, Government officials and stakeholders that affect our core business functions and future development, both at local network and national level. 

How does it benefit the company?
Maintaining healthy relationships with local and national stakeholders enables us to function most effectively as a business.  It also better equips the business to react more effectively to both immediate and future challenges within our sector. For example, good relationships with our fellow infrastructure partners that enables cross industry collaboration with projects leads to us achieving time and economic efficiencies in operational delivery. This is a benefit both to the business and to our customers. 

What do you like best about this role?
The variety of the work. No two days are the same. One day I can be in Westminster meeting with Parliamentarians and Civil Servants about how best to work towards 2050 decarbonisation targets. The next I am working with my operational colleagues in the depot taking about how we can promote the least disruptive operational delivery for London’s residents, commuters and businesses as we upgrade pipework across our network. 

What are you most proud of in this role?
I am most proud of facilitating meetings and site visits that brings together and showcases to key stakeholders the fantastic work going on across our network every day, aimed at delivering the highest service for our customers. 

I recently took DfT officials out across our London network to see how we are using innovative technology to rehabilitate pipework without the need to cut off gas or excavate large sections of the highway as well as collaborative works that we’re doing with Thames Water which means that roads will not have to be closed multiple times. 
I also recently presented at an APPG (all part parliamentary group) and spoke on behalf of gas networks about gas grid extension as  a solution to address fuel poverty and drive down carbon emissions.  

What did you do before you came to Cadent and how did you come to get this role?
Having always been interested in politics, I studied Politics at Nottingham University before working for an MP, both in Westminster and the constituency office which gave me a good foundation of understanding both for national policy mechanisms and grass root drivers for action and change. 

In 2015 I moved into the energy industry, working for the UKLPG, the national LPG association where I took on a full time public affairs and lobbying role which covered decarbonisation and energy efficiency policy, transport policy, supply resilience and industry CSR. 

My new role at Cadent gives me the opportunity to learn more about a different aspect of the energy, challenge myself and develop professionally. 

Are the arenas in which you work e.g. the gas industry, Westminster male dominated? 
Yes, and this has always been the case since I first left University and entered politics back in 2007. I would say that there is a noticeable shift in this, particularly in the past few years, not just in gender representation but in a fairer representation of all cross sections of society. 
There is a way to go, but it’s a welcome change that will lead to better outcomes for both business and the public. 

Do you think you are treated differently as a woman in these arenas or equally?
I’d like to say no, but that wouldn’t be completely truthful. I’ve experienced both negative and positive treatment as a result of my gender. But I neither see it as a ticket to success or a cross to bear.  Work hard and see your difference as a strength to be used to your advantage. Life would be so boring if we were all the same!

Are there any obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get your voice heard eg any outright discrimination or perhaps cultural factors such as men being used to talking over each other and therefore you find it hard to get a word in?
Yes this has happened, but it’s hard to say whether this is because of gender or age or because certain people are just a bit rude! 

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