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Molly Morgan

University of Sheffield

Physics and Astrophysics
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The Big Picture

Molly has worked at CRU for over 3 years now following her physics and astrophysics Undergrad and solar cell technology Masters at the University of Sheffield. Molly has progressed from a Junior Research Analyst to Senior Research Analyst during her time at Exawatt, part of the CRU Group. 

“So the whole company is focused on decarbonization through electrification. My team focus on solar panels, and then we also have teams that look at energy conversion, and then the end demand like the energy uses in electric vehicles, and a team looking at the energy storage as well”. 

“I look at the supply and demand of the market, and analyze how much of the stuff that goes into a solar panel is being produced around the world and then from that we can say, there’s an oversupply or undersupply, for example, and what does that mean for people further up and down the supply chain. I also collect data, analyze it and pop it into reports that get sent to manufacturers so they can benchmark their own products against what I sort of collate from the market as a whole. So kind of in a nutshell, it’s a lot of market analysis that then goes to people throughout the supply chain.”

Moving through her studies, Molly realised she had a passion for renewable energy: “But I didn’t really know what I could do with it moving forward. I knew about CRU based in Sheffield because they have done some guest lectures, so I reached out to them and asked if I could do some work experience. I really enjoyed that, and then I was lucky enough to be offered some part time work whilst I was finishing off my Masters which was a really nice sort of gradual transition into work. And then, once I’d finished my Masters they asked me if I wanted to stay on full time.” 

Molly really settled to life in Sheffield when she moved there from Blackpool to go to uni and was really pleased to find a career close by “It’s a 15 min walk from the physics department, so I’m slowly moving away from uni!”

Expectations

“So I knew quite well what I was getting myself into. But then I’ve been quite lucky because with my physics background, I kind of could have applied myself to any of the teams. Although I wanted to be in the solar team, it’s quite nice that my physics background sort of opened that up. I didn’t realize I could have been going into those different areas. So, although it was what I expected, I could have made it something that I didn’t expect!”

“Sometimes it would be nice to sit in a lab for a bit, but then I know that when I was doing labs in fourth year, you’d do a whole day, and I’d be like I can’t do another day! I think, because there’s so much range in what I do day to day now, there’s enough variety that it is always interesting.”

The Physics Connection

“A big part of my job is staying on top of what’s going on in the industry and learning about new technologies. That was a big part of the appeal to me in the start because it’s like I get to use all my degree and get to carry on learning too. I would say, I use my technical knowledge and things like random electricity equations. There are some actual basic bits of theory that crop up time and time again. And even like the other teams, I hear them sort of say things, and I’m like, okay, yeah, I remember that!”

Writing reports is most definitely a skill Molly uses on a daily basis: “I wouldn’t have expected to use that as much as I do now. I definitely didn’t appreciate at the time how useful those lab report writing skills would be. The Masters was quite well rounded, in that we did a fairly long project, and then obviously there was theory. But there was also a lot of computational labs as well, so like dealing with big data sets, very similar to what I’m doing now.”

The Learning Curve

All the reports that Molly is working on then get presented to the customer so they can talk through the findings, Molly also has to present to prospective clients. “I think the thing that I struggled and still do struggle with probably the most is presenting the work and talking through it. So if I could go back I would definitely try and get more presenting and public speaking skills. I feel more confident now and I’m lucky that my manager is very good at supporting me, it’s not often that I would be completely on my own in that situation.”

Any Advice?

“This all just came from ‘Can I watch for a week and see what you do?’ It shows that you’ve not really got anything to lose by reaching out to people and just asking to find out more information. Just sending that email or that Linkedin message, it starts the conversation, and then it opens quite a few doors.”

“Looking back, I’d probably remind myself of the importance of knowing the very basics because the basic first principles do come up more often than not. If you’ve just got your basic knowledge that you always come back to, then you can always build on that further if you’ve got a good solid foundation. I feel like I could turn my hand to other areas, I’m not saying I could go do it now, but I could re-learn and just like refresh that knowledge.” 

Next Steps

Would Molly move on? “I do just find it interesting to be honest. I’ve not got any plans at the minute to go anywhere else. But I think even within renewable energy, there’s so many different areas, because there’s obviously not just solar, like there’s wind and other things as well. And because there’s obviously not just analysis, there’s also more the news reporting side of things, and then the policy side of things like, it’s quite big, I didn’t realize how big the industry actually was, and all the different components that make it up. So there’d definitely be ways that I could stay with it if I ever got bored of looking at spreadsheets!”

“There’s so much more we can be doing, and we should be doing. Like we, as society, are definitely not as good as we can be on sort of the decarbonization front but it does feel quite nice that day to day I get to hear about all these exciting things that the world can be doing and might be doing soon in the future.”

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