From Aberdeen to Offshore Wind - Mike HayMike Hay

MA (Hons) Geography
From Aberdeen to Offshore Wind

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Aberdeen's a modern city with a rich history. It's at the centre of the global energy market but also located within some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. It's great for a night out but also a nice place to relax by the sea. On visiting for the first time I was particularly impressed by the University campus and felt proud to be part of it every time I walked through the gates of Old Aberdeen.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do when I left school, but I did know the subjects I enjoyed. Geography at Aberdeen therefore stood out due to the opportunity to study across a broad range of disciplines with practical applications. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, as I studied some fascinating subjects but also began to specialise around my interests towards the end of the course, cumulating in my dissertation topic, which turned into the career path I've been on ever since!

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
We had some great geography field trips (half the reason for studying the subject if I'm honest). One took us to Majorca to study agricultural terraces, which was interesting in itself, but we also had a lot of fun as you can probably imagine. In retrospect the group working and team work on these trips, often on subjects no one was familiar with, was actually a great introduction to the problem solving in business I now do every day.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Follow your interests, don't worry about where they'll take you. If you're interested, you're already where you want to be. If not, then use the opportunity to understand what does work for you and what doesn't. If you come out of university knowing yourself a lot better then, whatever you've studied, it will have been worth it. Oh, and enjoy the macaroni pies while you're young!

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Marine Renewables Development Manager

What did your first role involve?
I worked for a renewable energy trade association, representing it's wave and tidal members in discussions with government, key stakeholders and the media. This involved working to address specific challenges by lobbying for policy changes and raising the sectors profile through events and campaigns at a crucial time in its development. It gave me a great insight into how energy policy is created, its impact on commercial decisions and how it can be influenced.

Who was your first employer?
British Wind Energy Association (now Renewable UK).

What is your current job title?
Commercial Director.

Who is your current employer?
Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG).

What is your current role?
Offshore wind project development.

What is your current location?
London.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
Having worked in lobbying and policy development I was keen to expand my skills in project management so joined the Carbon Trust to design and deliver a large, co-funded innovation programme in offshore wind. This led to me joining a independent project developer, where we were successful in winning, developing and ultimately selling the worlds largest offshore wind farm off the east coast of England. I was then invited to join the UK Government as a sector specialist, supporting the delivery of their offshore wind industrial policy, particularly across trade and investment. Following this I teamed up with some partners, one of whom I studied with at Aberdeen, to set up our own company that could draw upon our collective experiences to bring forward large scale offshore wind projects in Scotland.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
I would say it was. My final year dissertation was on 'Local Opinion of Windfarm Development in the Highlands of Scotland', so that led to my interest in the sector I've worked in even since. I also met my current business partner at Aberdeen, we studied Geography together, so I would say it was essential for getting us both here. He was also on the field trip to Majorca, but I can't say any more about that here!

One Top Tip

Stay true to your interests. You can't map everything in front of you, but if you're genuinely interested in what you're doing then it will take you places you could never have planned.