First let me begin by apologising for the wonderfully awkward "spark" pun for this, my first ever blog!
With that out the way, a little about myself. My name is Nicholas Morris (Nick in the UK, Nicho en France) and I have the pleasure of being able to introduce myself to you, dear reader, as the founder of the Spark! Contest - The Student Award led by the Franco-British Energy Industry.
The Spark! Contest was born roughly a year ago today when I was invited by my colleague, Melanie Sachar (Check her out! She is frankly awesome: www.thesparkcontest.org/non-executive-team.html) to the British Embassy in France to hold a meeting with the FBCCI (the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and its President, Bob Lewis.
Why did I go to the Embassy I hear you ask?
I was a little envious of Melanie and her job role. You see, her mission, amongst other things, is to build Franco-British cooperation within the industry. This therefore presents a lot of opportunity to meet persons of interest and have some frankly fascinating conversations.
There was also a personal frustration too. I was looking for something new to get my teeth into. As an undergraduate, I worked hard, played (sport) hard, played (partied) hard and also involved myself in several societies and a company; oh and I decided to go and study engineering in French for a year because I could (?!).
I ran socio-economic projects as Executive Director of Enactus Sheffield, creating revenue streams that would make our socio-economic projects financially sustainable. I got to meet local businessmen and women, and other academics interested in furthering student-built and led socio-economic projects that benefitted local, national and international communities.
(ENACTUS exists in universities all over the world. If you happen to be an undergraduate at a Franco-British university, check out: http://enactusuk.org and http://enactus.fr for opportunities to get involved).
What I really wanted to do was to try and recreate the same employment opportunity for others that I had so luckily achieved. I wanted to make my "international experience" more readily available to young STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students and graduates.
So after some discussion over how this could be achieved and having sufficiently harassed Melanie, she acquiesced and we went to the Embassy to discuss the creation of a Young Persons Group in the Energy Industry. The intended aim was to provide industry visits, Continued Professional Development (CPD) talks and presentations from senior businessmen and women and a network for motivated, young talent in the Energy Industry.
The FBCCI provided me with the contact details of two individuals whom I met in January 2015 and who would become crucial to the creation of the Spark! Contest: Michel Dubarry (Rolls-Royce) and Dominique Mockly (ENSTA ParisTech).
Michel, the founder of the USAIRE Student Award (http://www.usaire.org/?pag=9), advised that my initiative change its orientation and become an Energy Industry Student Award, bringing industry and young talent closer together, through the annual production of a paper on a particular energy-based theme/question.
Dominique wholly supported the idea and had the inspiration for the question for the inaugural 2016 competition:
“The nuclear fuel cycle in 2040:
Fast forward now to December 2015 and a lot of time, thought and energy has been invested into this project. EDF SA have agreed to be the primary sponsor for the contest, with its CEO, Jean-Bernard LEVY our patron.
And ... as of the 1st December, the Spark! Contest went live and I am proud to announce that we already have participants from French and British Universities who have signed up!!
(if only you the reader could see the smile on my face!).
So where did the "spark" come from? It came from a wish to create a project for myself and an opportunity for others, although it took me a great deal of time, introspection, luck (!) and advice/input/critique from others to understand what form I wished for that opportunity to resemble.
And it must be remembered too that this is an iterative process and a journey of continued discovery (which is why I am currently ploughing my way through a whole host of books).
The next book on my current reading list is entitled "Give and Take" (Adam Grant). It acknowledges that hard work, luck and talent each play a role in our working lives. But so does a fourth element: that the best way to succeed is to focus on bringing others with you and the creation of relationships with colleagues, clients and competitors.
Once I have gotten through it, I will try to link my thoughts and findings to the Spark! Contest, my "spark" moment and the intended aim of bringing the participants along with me to meet leaders of the Franco-British Energy Industry.
But for now, let us focus on the fact that the Spark! Contest is now live and let us see whether or not we can indeed brighten some futures and ignite some careers!
Have a great weekend /Bon week-end et à très bientôt
If you have managed to read this far dear reader, I am grateful to you. This is my first blog and my prose and writing style may need some work; so bear with me.
I will go into more detail in subsequent blog entries, in case my efforts should inspire you to want to try and a project of your own. As well as updates to the campaign, I will try to answer questions such as: