What's your job about?
The Clean Energy Regulator administers Australia’s climate change laws, which range from regulating power station emissions to issuing carbon credits for activities like forest regrowth. It is an economic and environmental regulator that aims to accelerate Australia’s carbon abatement through a combination of incentives and regulation.
My role in the Regulatory Strategy team is to solve challenging problems that appear in our work. When a problem in business-as-usual work shows up, they throw it to us and get us to sort it out! An example of an ongoing project I have worked extensively on is on indigenous native title land rights, and how that intersects with the rights to plant trees and store carbon – a complex bit of law that was causing trouble for many parties. I have worked with my team to research the law, consult stakeholders and develop guidance to help resolve this issue. This involved a lot of reading and thinking, but also included a trip to Darwin to participate in an indigenous carbon forum, which proved to be an extremely valuable opportunity.
There is plenty more regular work, which ranges from preparing briefs for the executive to assisting with operational business. But the varied nature of the work always keeps things interesting!
What's your background?
I was born in Singapore but grew up in Perth. After graduating high school, I left for university in Canberra at the Australian National University where I studied physics in a research-focused Bachelor of Philosophy (Science).
Science has been a lifelong interest of mine, particularly physics, but I wasn’t certain where I wanted to go with it. I had dabbled with many interests throughout my education, from attending the National Youth Science Forum to participating in United Nations Youth Australia model UN competitions.
In the honours year of my degree, I was able to do a research project on the growth of nanowire-scale solar cells. This was a challenging but exciting project that united my interest in science with ways to combat climate change, a key worldwide issue that I am passionate about.
When I was offered a graduate position at the Clean Energy Regulator, it seemed like a great way to advance my aim of combating climate change – the agency’s mission statement is “Accelerating carbon abatement for Australia” after all! It’s been a great introduction into the full-time workforce, and I have learned a lot while really enjoying the work.
Tip: try things out, especially at uni! Balancing study with life is difficult, but it’s a great time to try things out and meet new people. Who knows where it will lead?
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely – my background in physics is quite far removed from the day-to-day work! Across all of my teams at this agency, the skills I have used the most have been my writing skills and critical thinking skills. Strong writing abilities are a great help, whether you’re writing legislation or emails. Critical thinking is key to adapting to new situations, and will let you pick up the skills to fit in anywhere.
The Clean Energy Regulator has a wide range of teams doing vastly different work – the graduate program has let us identify the areas we can best contribute to.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
End of the day, I take satisfaction that the work we do is helping reduce, in any way, the carbon emissions from Australia. While it can be frustrating or limited at times, it’s good to know the work that we do is for a great cause. Achieving this goal in varied ways keeps the day-to-day fresh – in just one year, I’ve worked on projects ranging from analysing the rights required to conduct savanna burning to editing legislation for industrial equipment efficiency upgrades. It’s been a great opportunity to interact with the cutting edge issues and ideas in renewable energy.
What are the limitations of your job?
A large part of the agency work is fairly routine administration work, which may not be as exciting, depending on your role and interests. Any work you do will also likely be reviewed and edited by people up the chain – you have to be able to not take it personally when a paper comes back with a million edits!
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