Honoured by the recognition from his peers and the IET, Richard’s certificate of Fellowship has pride of place on his study wall.
Richard Polley currently works as planning manager for the southern part of EDF Energy, and is responsible for the development of the electricity supply network for London and the South East of the UK. His career has always revolved around this sector; starting back in 1970 when on completion of A levels, he joined a university scholarship scheme with the then South Eastern Electricity Board. A thick sandwich course, he spent a year in industry and three at university before returning for another year in training. He was then “unleashed” into the company as a fully-fledged engineer.
His drive also led to admission onto an accelerated Chartership scheme, and became Chartered quite early in his career; at 29 years of age.
Over the years the company changed and evolved as it was privatised and merged, with Richard working his way up the organisation. As he puts it; “The company changed around me, rather than me changing company.”
During these years he took on a variety of roles, mainly within the electricity distribution field; from operational and system development through to strategic planning and management. His present role combines both of the latter and Richard faces a variety of challenges including ensuring that the network supplying the business centres of the capital city keeps pace with the changing demands placed upon it. He’s also working towards developing a low carbon network, incorporating electric vehicles charging and smart grid technologies that will provide a sustainable legacy for the future.
Richard’s first interaction with the IET (then IEE), was as a student member during his stint at university. Even at this young age he was a proactive member, and as the Leeds University representative for the IEE North Midlands Graduate and Student Committee, he aimed to raise the profile of the organisation amongst the student body.
Over the years his involvement with the institution has fluctuated depending on the time he’s had free to volunteer, however when possible he’s been involved in schemes to support the engineering profession – especially showing school children what engineering is all about. One such project saw a number of professional organisations come together to visit schools and talk to students about engineering. The students were able to find out more about the profession as well as take part in interactive lessons.
“I wanted to promote engineering to get the right people in, because as we know only too well, the common view of an engineer is the man who comes to mend the washing machine,” Richard explains. “I wanted to raise people’s awareness that there is more to it than that; it is a very rewarding profession. (I also hoped it would help) get good graduates, and get them to stay in the profession.”
Clearly this is an important thing to Richard, and in-house he has also been heavily involved with the company’s graduate training process, and was involved in developing today’s current graduate scheme.
More recently Richard took on the role of IET membership advisor at EDF Energy, and then professional registration advisor (PRA), supporting his fellow engineers with their professional development and registration.
“There’s been a theme of interest in development,” he says. “Through the schools work initially, but then the development of the graduate training scheme through to my current role as PRA, which encourages and helps people to get professionally registered.
Richard has supported engineers and the engineering sector throughout his career and loves the sense of achievement when his support helps someone achieve professional registration. But in forty years in the electricity supply industry, achieving Fellow status is one of his proudest professional achievements.
“You often don’t recognise everything you’re doing and achieving, I felt I was only doing what any professionally qualified engineer in my position would do” he explains. “ I sat down and took a look and what I’d been up to; my dealings as a PRA, my responsibilities as a senior manager, and then I turned that into a case for Fellowship.”
Shortly after he received a certificate in the post, addressed to Richard Polley FIET, which now has pride of place in his study.
“Interestingly, it’s the only certificate that I’ve got framed up on my study wall. My degree certificate is rolled up safely in a tube in the drawer. I feel it is quite an honour, its wonderful to have recognition of your contribution from the institution and your peers,” he concludes.