We caught up with Rosie following her team's success in reaching the final of the 2020-2021 edition of the Spark! Contest to find out how taking part has helped her grow and develop her professional skills.
Rosie (on the right) and her teammate Jennifer
Who was in your team?
Jennifer Carroll and I both worked for Jacobs at the start of the project. I worked as a process engineer and Jennifer as a chemist. The Jacobs career network shared The Spark! Contest around the company in 2020 and had Jennifer as the point of contact. She had competed previously in the 2017-2018 edition and got to Phase 2. After some discussions, Jennifer and I decided to enter the competition and try to go one better!
What was your idea?
Our innovative idea for Spark! was focused on kick-starting the green hydrogen economy on a local scale.
Our proposed start-up was a consultancy company that would assess the feasibility and provide tools to small scale, low carbon energy producers to become green hydrogen utilities. Their local communities would be supplied with hydrogen for heat, transport, and industry, as well as oxygen produced by electrolysis. Examples of our client base included academic institutes and county councils with renewables and land to produce green hydrogen.
By working with the local supply chain and community, we would establish self-sustaining hydrogen and oxygen ecosystems, resolving the issues of infrastructure, and supply and demand that currently stop green hydrogen from being the fuel of tomorrow.
Why green hydrogen?
As a process engineer, I find hydrogen interesting. Jennifer had experience working on hydrogen projects within Jacobs for Heysham nuclear power station so green hydrogen was a good fit. Jennifer brought the knowledge of the technology; I brought the enthusiasm!
How did Spark! help you develop?
During The Spark! Contest Jennifer and I progressed from an initial idea about green hydrogen and the circular economy through to a 10 page business plan and business pitch which evolved so much along the way. I think this evolution of our idea showed how much we did develop during Spark!
Business acumen was the main skill I developed in Spark!. I didn’t even know what a business plan entailed prior to entering, fortunately my teammate Jennifer did. Developing the ideas for our start-up's business strategy and growth plan from day 1 onwards, thinking about risks to our business, contingencies and how to price our service and fund that start-up was all new to me.
I think also because the Contest is driven by you and your teammates, you take ownership of the idea and use your initiative to drive the concept more than I’ve ever had the chance to at work or uni. You essentially become the CEO, project manager, sales exec and accountant all at once. I felt I developed my confidence in my own ideas, decision making, initiative and innovation.
What was the highlight of the contest?
My highlight was definitely the final in London. I really enjoyed hearing all the other finalists pitches and being in a room with so many people passionate about Net Zero made a great atmosphere and dinner time conversation. I made some great connections with my fellow contestants, the committee and the judges throughout the day.