We are the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and our role is to ensure energy security for all Australians. Most people don’t understand what I do, but essentially our team ensures that the east coast of Australia doesn’t run out of gas. My role at AEMO focuses on managing the operations of the east coast gas markets.
On a day-to-day basis, our team ensures all our gas market systems are running correctly. In my role, I have specifically worked on emergency management for the east coast gas markets from involuntary curtailment in Victoria, to managing the contingency gas process in the Short Term Trading Markets in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. Currently, I’m project managing a major publication for our team, the Victorian Gas Planning Report, which is used by industry and government to ensure the Victorian gas system can adequately supply customers in winter conditions.
During my studies I was adamant I would join a consultancy, so I did an internship at an international consulting firm in Hong Kong for two months in my second to last year of university. The internship actually changed my career path completely, and my experience there made me decide that I was not ready to join the consulting industry straight out of university.
Having always been interested in the energy industry, I knew it would provide the challenges and opportunities that I was after. I applied for the AEMO graduate program, and after 18 months on the program was offered a permanent position in the team as a Gas Operations Analyst. Being part of the graduate program instilled a lot of confidence in my own abilities, as well as a sense of pride and accountability. I was given a lot of responsibility in producing documents for the team, and a lot of hands-on experience, which made transitioning from the graduate program into a permanent position feel like removing the training wheels from your bike — I was given more responsibility, but I was ready for it. The program also allowed me to get involved with other projects and volunteer myself as much as possible, giving me direction and helping me gain a greater understanding of AEMO and the work we do.
I definitely believe someone with a different background could do my role. Our team has a diverse background from engineering, science, and economics. While it is a technical role, any technical knowledge required can be learnt, and we focus more on working as a team and providing clear, concise communication to our internal and external stakeholders.
The fact that the work I do has the potential to have a broad and positive impact, and that we’re not just working for the sake of it, is really rewarding. AEMO is filled with passionate, dedicated and intelligent people who are great to work with — I believe we all share the same objective of working to the best interests of energy consumers, and that really motivates me. It makes it exciting to come to work every day when you’re working with people who are like-minded and motivated, yet able to challenge your perspective and make you think about problems or a situation in a new or different way.
On the scale of things, gas markets and operations is only a small portion of the work AEMO does as a business for gas and electricity. A limitation in my role is that you don’t see much of the electricity side of the business, and the only time gas and electricity crosses paths is when there is an emergency impacting both markets, and it can be a steep learning curve when they do.