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Kayla Madlener Charts an Unlikely Journey into Asset Management
Kayla Madlener used to work in one of Toronto’s largest arts and culture charities but now finds herself scaling wind turbines as part of Locogen’s asset management team. How on earth did that happen? Let’s find out.
Tell us How you got into renewables?
A happy accident! When I first arrived in the UK, I wasn’t entirely sure where I would end up professionally. As a spur of the moment decision, Edinburgh became home – due in large part the wonderful people and the spectacular city. I stumbled across Locogen when they were recruiting to help with some new software systems for asset management. I was pretty quickly immersed in all things ‘Locogen’ and grew to appreciate the wonderful work that our employees do here. I was delighted when they adopted me as part of the asset management team.
What excites you about the industry?
Climate change is wreaking havoc on nature, wildlife and communities worldwide, and it is so exciting to be part of an industry that is attempting to forge new energy pathways and create social change. The UK renewable energy sector is so driven to realise our climate change ambition and reduce our carbon footprint, and with the old policies changing, it’s an incredibly interesting time for renewable energy technologies.
Renewable energy now makes up nearly a third of all UK electricity. But what is also so fascinating about this industry is the innovation that boldly leads the way. Solar powered trains in Australia? The first floating wind farm in Scotland? A Tesla solar roof you can order for your house? This industry provides the perfect inspiring space for people to find pioneering ways of harnessing power from our natural resources.
Tell us a little about your job
At Locogen, we conduct our own wind farm asset management site visits to ascertain that everything is running smoothly and functioning properly. It’s vital for us to understand our projects intimately, so we can better understand their needs and problem solve when needed. First-hand exposure to all sites helps us grasp what each unique site needs, both proactively and reactively. As an added bonus, there’s nothing quite like seeing a sunset in Aberdeenshire!
On the day-to-day, we handle anything and everything that comes up. Our primary job is to ensure that our portfolio is generating income and providing renewable energy to communities. We handle performance monitoring, reporting, finances, maintenance coordination, regulatory compliance, wind energy analysis, manage every contract under the sun, and act as primary liaisons between our clients and all the companies that have vested interests with our projects.
Our renewables asset management services encompass so many things, from the finances to performance monitoring. But I think the most essential service that we offer is peace of mind. Each project has so many moving parts, so many complexities, and our clients can rest assured that our team is safeguarding their investment.
How do you see your career evolving?
Currently, I am very satisfied in my position. Asset management for wind farms and other renewables is an ever-evolving beast; as we take on more projects, there are countless opportunities to learn and take the lead. But the beauty of working at Locogen is that we do it all. There are several areas that really interest me, most recently the planning side of projects. Somewhere down the line I would like to be able to work on project planning with the consultancy department. But for the time being, I am happy to live, breathe and sleep asset management!
What do you see happening in the asset management sector?
Wind and solar are already more efficient and cost-effective than conventional sources; and we have just scratched the surface. As more governments and corporations see the validity of this industry – both financially and ecologically – there will be a corresponding increase in demand for asset management services to help mitigate their interest and investments in the industry. Asset management plays a vital role in the upkeep of a renewable energy project, and as more corporations invest in renewables, they will need professional asset managers who understand the technical and financial management of these projects. I think that we might start to investigate developing further preventative maintenance systems and reviewing ways to predict future failures based on performance. Specifically, more in-depth analysis of raw data and long-term performance trends and how these can be used to understand performance issues. On the service side, perhaps more automated services to help facilitate the client-facing end of our jobs – we’re already developing these systems.
What do you like about working for Locogen?
Locogen has a remarkable and unique work environment - it is at times rowdy and interactive, other times quiet and focused; but always passionate and dedicated. I have never worked with such devoted people: not only to their projects and clients, but most ardently to building a world where everyone has access to affordable, sustainable energy and clean air. There is always a project on the go and the opportunity to learn something new. Locogen encourages its employees to extend beyond their positions and learn new technologies and skills from each other. Finally, and perhaps it’s a Canadian cliché, but everyone in the office is nice! My colleagues are all genuinely kind and very intelligent people who are never too busy to lend a helping hand - and go out for a beer!
You can read more about our asset management services here.