Maintenance to keep the nation powered

Case Study

27 September 2017

Graduate buyer for National Grid

Joe works in the ventures category team of global procurement, responsible for procuring a maintenance contract for Interconnexion France-Angleterre, the high voltage power interconnector between the UK and France. He also buys heat exchangers, pipeline diversions, boilers and other maintenance service contracts

How did you come to this job?

I initially joined the procurement team at National Grid on an industrial placement as part of a business and enterprise management degree at Sheffield Hallam. I spent six months in audit and compliance learning about the procurement process and six months in ‘indirects’. I was responsible for two waste management contracts and a contract renewal tender worth £6m, which was a fantastic opportunity so early on. I was really pleased to be invited back to the 18-month graduate programme, where we do three placements before going back to procurement on completion.


What skills do you need?

Commercial awareness, problem solving and strong communication skills


What’s an average day like?

I liaise with technical stakeholders to ensure that the scope of supply (a key tender document) is extremely clear to potential suppliers on exactly what we are looking to buy. And I contact all of the potential suppliers we are working with to ensure they are prepared to participate in the next stage in the tender process.

Tell us about your company

National Grid owns and operates the electricity and gas transmission networks in the UK. Global Procurement in the UK buys everything from helicopters to survey the condition of our overhead lines to Interconnectors, which connect two different countries transmission systems via a subsea high voltage cable.


What is the most unusual thing you have bought?

In the gas transmission category team, I bought boilers, but they are like no boiler I had ever seen before. As a single boiler was not enough, we would buy up to 12 commercial size boilers and strap them together in what looks like a portable cabin. Some serious heat.


What is the most difficult thing you have bought?

Without doubt the most complex is tendering maintenance services for IFA, our 30-year-old interconnector between the UK and France. The technical requirements for the services are enormous and critical to its availability.


What is the most interesting thing you have bought?

Some of our gas turbine fleet will soon breach emissions directives and as a result we procured a feasibility study to determine whether a retro-fit catalytic abatement solution would allow us to use our existing turbines. It was really interesting to explore alternative options with the business to meet regulations.

Enthusiasm is key. Throw yourself into anything that comes your way
and everyone around you will guide you through the processes and
procedures until you’re ready to stand on your own feet –
the support is unbelievable.

What are the career prospects?

Salary-wise, a graduate buyer starts on £27,500, rising to £33,000 at the end of the programme. Career prospects are really strong in procurement at National Grid. I believe career prospects are really strong within Procurement and National Grid. I would like to stay here in procurement when I have finished the programme. And I would like to enrol onto the funded National Grid bespoke CIPS course.


Tell us something interesting about the industry you work in

Energy generation as we know it is transitioning from large scale coal, gas and nuclear to clean renewable sources. The UK’s infrastructure will have to change to suit, and working for National Grid allows you to be part of something that has an incredibly positive impact on the future of the UK’s supply of energy. From a procurement perspective, it’s an amazing time to join the team as in the near future we will be required to ensure we have contracts and frameworks that can facilitate the introduction of exciting new infrastructure and technology that will be crucial to the introduction of renewable energy.

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Working with National Grid

Our global procurement team is responsible for £4.3bn worth of goods and services each year that drive our innovation and improve our supply chain performance. From connections for new offshore wind-farms to ink for thousands of office printers, we aim to deliver best value to the business

National Grid is at the heart of UK’s energy, connecting the nation, getting power to work, homes and schools. From environmental services to seabed surveys, scaffolding to electrical testing, telecoms to car fleets, it’s vital we keep on improving the goods and services National Grid buys.

Joining the National Grid Global Procurement team will give you access to a wealth of training resources, to learn from a team with expertise in sourcing, managing and delivering high-profile, high-value, highly complex contracts.

We are boosting our team with bright, enthusiastic recruits to replace our talented professionals as they move up in the ranks.

Join National Grid, and develop your skills – and your career.