Early this year, Senamiso Mathobela, from Zimbabwe, became the first female to head power stations serving Northern England and Wales. She is a Power System Control Engineer at the Transmission Network Control Center in the UK.
She oversees all operational activities of the electricity system, which includes monitoring the system in real time and responding to emergency conditions such as equipment failures, to avoid loss of power to millions of customers. She also manages a team of engineers that delivers the day’s outage plan for equipment maintenance and replacement projects.
“I always wanted to be an engineer, as I was inspired by my best friend’s dad who worked at a power station,” she said. “He would talk about his job and how much he enjoyed making a difference and keeping the lights on. I enjoyed physics and math, so being an engineer was a natural choice when I got to university.”
Making the transition to the UK wasn’t easy for her due to the difference in the grid in the UK and the one in her home country; however, she has risen to the challenge with optimism.
“Working in a real-time environment to ensure the continuity and reliability of the electricity supply to millions of homes is very challenging but also very rewarding. At the end of the day I feel I have made a difference to the lives of so many people who depend on the availability of electricity for everyday activities,” she said. “Electricity is taken for granted when it’s available, but its absence has a significant impact on everyone. I am proud to be part of the team that ‘keeps the lights on.’”