AlumniDr Michelle Hynd

Course studied: PhD Business, 2003

Position at time of writing: Transition Director at SSE plc, Non-executive Director at Scottish Water Business Stream.

Tell us about your background

I was born and brought up in Glasgow where I live with my husband and son. After completing my MBA in 1997, I went on to study for a PhD and graduated from the University of Strathclyde Graduate Business School in 2003.

Whilst I undertook my PhD at Strathclyde, I worked full time in Scotland’s economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise. During my 14 years at Scottish Enterprise, I had the great privilege to work with many of Scotland’s businesses across key sectors, helping them to grow their organisations and improve their workplace.

In 2005, I joined SSE Plc - one of Scotland’s FTSE 100 companies - as Head of Business Improvement. I worked with the Chief Executive to drive innovation, culture change and business improvement across the organisation and was further promoted to Director of Corporate Development, running many of the organisation’s corporate functions for over a decade.

Why did you choose Strathclyde?

I chose Strathclyde because of the exciting research at the Graduate Business School, which was directly relevant to my areas of interest. I was studying management theory, strategic change and architecture & design literatures, and these were uniquely represented in the Graduate Business School. The academic staff and I shared a great interest in the business application of theory - making it attractive and exciting to study and collaborate with them.

Where are you now? 

In my current role as Transition Director at SSE Plc, I am leading the integration of our new Renewables businesses, mainly on and off shore windfarms that we have acquired in Japan, Boston, Netherlands, Spain, France, Greece and Italy.

Over the past 5 years at SSE, I have been responsible for directing the separation of some of our businesses which were sold as they were not aligned with our future net zero carbon strategy. From the proceeds of these sales, SSE has invested in buying new international renewable energy businesses and, in my current role as Transition Director, I am responsible for integrating these new international businesses into the SSE Group.

In addition to my role at SSE Plc, I have held Non-Executive Director positions across public, private and charity sectors at Business in the Community, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and most recently at Scottish Water Business Stream.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

At SSE I was responsible for developing the property strategy which involved planning and opening new flagship buildings for our staff, which incorporated the latest innovation in office design and agile technologies to create a work environment that staff were happier and more productive working in. It was always a highlight for me to see the influence that building design and management culture could have on human behaviour.

Another highlight was being involved in creating the “Powering the Future” Exhibition at the Glasgow Science Centre which was launched in 2015 to help raise awareness of the science and engineering behind an energy future that is cleaner, secure and affordable. This exhibition was widely praised by the public and industry professionals due to its contribution to the societal energy debate.

Ambitions for the future

I love the business of business and will remain committed to contributing to the development of any organisation that I work with. The pace of change has never been greater and will continue to increase and I look forward to exciting times ahead. In the energy industry in particular, the transition to net zero is only just beginning and there are so many challenges to overcome, I am excited about being part of the global ambition for change.

You've held several senior roles at SSE. What advice would you give to young people for networking and building contacts across an organisation?

I would advise young people to get involved. Take the opportunity to join projects or initiatives when presented as they are a great way to build your network of contacts whilst gaining new experience. They can help you to demonstrate your skills and talent to a broader network of people that you would not typically have the opportunity to influence.

Although the benefits and opportunities of broadening your work portfolio and getting involved in additional activities may not be obvious at the time, you will reap the benefits at a later stage!