Insider Insight: Chris Higby

Chris Higby, policy officer at the Association for Decentralised Energy shares his career insights

Chris Higby, policy officer, Association for Decentralised Energy. Picture: ADEWhat helped you get where you are in your career?

I have been lucky to be surrounded by classmates, friends, co-workers and superiors who are much smarter and more knowledgeable than me. I have always tried my best to reach out to them for help whenever possible. Throughout my career, I have found that experienced and successful people are willing and eager to help out anyone who wants to learn from them. Seeking out these opportunities has always proven at least indirectly helpful to career decisions that I have made and has more than once led to my making a major change in my career.

What qualifications are the most necessary and most beneficial in the energy policy sector?

The energy policy field is as complex as any a person could choose to pursue a career in. The intermingling of advanced technologies, complex economics, environmental considerations and human rights issues presents an enormous challenge for every company in the sector and it’s difficult for any one individual to fully comprehend the universal consequences of every market decision. Given that, an ability to listen and work with your team and digest and weigh the advice of industry peers is critical to anyone seeking to thrive in the sector.

What have been the stumbling blocks or barriers along the way? And how did you adapt to these challenges?

Since the turn of the century, the UK has experienced unprecedented changes in how it generates, manages and uses energy. New technologies present opportunities and challenges that could not have been foreseen even a decade ago, and policy is constantly struggling to keep up with changes. At the same time, the political climate has shifted in response to broader global events that have had colossal implications for the energy sector.      

To survive, companies have had to evolve along with these changes, while sticking to the core mission that have made them successful. As those tendencies sometimes run counter to each other, it can make that evolution difficult. Successful teams make these difficult adjustments and move forward without incident.

How do you get the most out of your team and colleagues?

As simple as it sounds, being friendly and prepared seems to be the shortest path to success. I currently work with a team that is more likely to carry me to success than they would be to rely on my wringing additional wins out of them. Everyone has something to contribute and it is critical that you use your team’s expertise to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always be willing to offer it if a colleague is struggling. In difficult times, I’ve always found it easy to count on team-members who know that you are willing to support them when they were in a bind.

What other advice do you have for people about to embark on a career in decentralised energy policy?

It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. New technologies are creating new opportunities for the future, while the application of common sense solutions is awakening users to the potential to lower costs and increased reliability. Decentralised technologies are becoming more of an every-day part of doing business than ever before.

That said, this remains a highly complex and politically contentious sector to work in. Be prepared to learn a lot and question some of your own assumptions about the industry and how best to solve problems. The sector’s best advocates understand that there are always trade-offs in energy markets and  are able to dispassionately discuss those trade-offs while making a case for the real benefits of decentralisation. 

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