Course studied: MSc Applied Economics, 2016
Current position: Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables
Interesting fact: Claire was involved in the inauguration of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm. At the time it was the largest renewable energy project in the UK and the largest private sector investment ever in Scotland
Tell us about your background
For my undergraduate degree I studied Media and Communications and began my career in radio and broadcast regulation at a time when the industry was going through a real period of change and consolidation. This focused minds heavily on local content and cultural representation from different areas of the UK.
Times changed really quickly and the debate moved on to one about delivery of content too. As platforms evolved and on-demand content took off, the telecoms network became really important as did the rollout of mobile data services which saw me move into that infrastructure space.
I left regulation just after completing my course in Applied Economics at Strathclyde to an industry focused and economic growth role. It was there that I recognised the value that renewables had for Scotland and when my current role at Scottish Renewables came up, there no doubt in my mind over what I wanted to do.
Being able to learn about and represent another sector, one that was in rapid transition to the mainstream of energy supply and one that touches and enhances the lives of every person in the country is a huge privilege.
Why did you choose Strathclyde?
I chose Strathclyde because it has such an incredible heritage and current credibility in industrial development and innovation. I had worked with teams at Strathclyde on mobile spectrum and early 5G thinking, so I knew that industrial growth focus permeates the University’s values.
On a more practical level, I could see that the University was investing in itself for a new era through building new facilities and the diversity amongst the student population was a real attraction to me as a mature student. The city centre location was also a benefit because I was working while studying and it made the course more accessible.
Do you have a highlight from your time at University?
There were so many! I met some phenomenal people from different backgrounds and age groups who brought so much to my time at Strathclyde. Graduating having completed my Masters while working and being a mum was a big moment for me.
A highlight from beyond that time but linked to it was being invited to contribute to an analysis of the economic impacts of COVID which the University published and my input was in there alongside the views of my dissertation supervisor which made me feel very proud.
What has been your most memorable moment from your career so far?
This last year will be memorable for so many reasons – the resilience of my team, myself personally and of my industry in the face of complete uncertainty and change. I’ve been very lucky to get up close to some of the most incredible projects that Scotland has ever seen; a key one being the inauguration of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm.
At that time, it was the largest renewable energy project in the UK and the largest private sector investment ever in Scotland with sums over twice the value of the Queensferry Crossing involved. I was able to go out to the site with industry colleagues and our Energy Minister to see the culmination of over a decade of work which saw the site of a legacy oil and gas project transitioned to a site producing enough clean, renewable energy to power over 450,000 homes.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My key ambition is to continue my learning journey, I have a thirst for knowledge and we are in an era where there are some really huge global challenges for us to address.
This is not just climate change, but also healthcare and creating healthy populations has also come to the fore in recent times as well as the impacts of changing geopolitics across the world. All these issues create exciting opportunities for the people and places who can help with the solutions. I want to be one of those people.