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Graduate Program 2021: Meet our new additions

As we head into the second half of 2021, Energy Consumers Australia is thrilled to welcome four new Graduate Policy Officers to our team. Each of them brings a distinctive and valuable set of skills, tools and mindsets to our mission of working towards an energy system that meets consumer needs and expectations, now and in the future.

But which one of them has hiked to Mount Everest base camp? Which is obsessed with nudibranchs? And who can tapdance, juggle and also knit? (we’re not sure if that’s all at the same time).

Read on to find out…

Taneesha Amos-Hampson

What have you graduated from?

I have graduated from a Bachelor of Social Science (Dean’s Scholar) majoring in Human Geography and with a minor in Social Marketing and International Studies. I have also graduated from a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Human Geography. Both were completed at the University of Wollongong. I’ve also completed two semesters abroad studying at the University of Karlstad in Sweden in Sustainable Development and Nordic Studies.

Why did you want to work at ECA?

With the energy sector undergoing huge transformations at the moment in policy, governance, system design and innovation, the opportunity to work in this area is something I am really excited about. What I found most appealing about ECA is that we are independent and centred on understanding the values, expectations and needs of consumers.

Why does what we do at ECA matter?

Working in the space between the consumer and governance/policy, through collaboration with community, industry and government, ensures that consumers can actively influence and participate in the evolution of the energy system. This is so important as the energy system transforms firstly from a carbon intensive one to one that is net zero and secondly with the increase uptake of distributed energy resources such as solar. People are the system and if we don’t understand the needs and expectations of consumers and support them in ways that they require, the system won’t function effectively.

What’s a moment when you understood how important energy is to Australians?

Every year I am reminded how important energy is to Australians when everyone switches off the lights for Earth Hour – in my household we also switched off appliances (apart from fridge/freezer). Sitting in the dark and lighting candles really makes you think about how important a secure and affordable energy supply is.

What I’m most looking forward to at ECA is…

I am looking forward to communicating with a range of different people working in industry, government as well as community groups and consumers on ways we can integrate consumer voice and encourage consumer participation in the evolving market and systems. Finally, I am excited about learning as much as I can and growing my knowledge, understanding and expertise within this industry.

Something most people don’t know about me is…

I am obsessed with nudibranchs. I am always showing friends and family the different species and whenever I am in rock pools or snorkelling on reefs I am always on the hunt for the most colourful nudibranchs.

Click here for Taneesha’s bio and contact details.

Isabella Darin

Isabella Darin

What have you graduated from?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney, completing a double major in Political Economy, and Government and International Relations (2020). I also completed a Graduate Certificate in Legal Studies from the University of Technology Sydney (2021).

Why did you want to work at ECA?

ECA appealed to me as a workplace where I could combine my interests in public policy, advocacy and sustainability, with my intellectual curiosity of the energy sector.

Why does what we do at ECA matter?

In my experiences at university, I realised the importance of all Australians being able to adequately communicate their interests to government and industry, as they should be the primary driver of policy change. ECA has an important role in supporting energy consumers’ voices in the discussion about the future of the energy industry in Australia.

What’s a moment when you understood how important energy is to Australians?

During COVID-19 times, energy has been crucial for Australians to continue learning. This has certainly been the case for my family, as I finished my undergraduate degree, and my twin brothers finished the HSC, studying from home last year.  

What I’m most looking forward to at ECA is…

I’m excited to learn from my colleagues, and support ECA’s work helping consumers adapt to and influence the rapidly changing energy system.

Something interesting that most people don’t know about me is…

After my grande bisnonno emigrated from Italy to Australia, he changed his last name from Da Rin Pagnetto to Darin.

Click here for Isabella’s bio and contact details.

Marie Harrowell

Marie Harrowell

What have you graduated from?

In 2019 I graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Political, Economic, and Social Sciences majoring in Government and International Relations. My degree included a semester at The University of California Santa Barbara and in 2020 I completed my honours in Human Geography at the University of Sydney. In my thesis I used photo-elicitation, open-ended interviews, and surveys to understand the impact of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns on university students’ food environments.

Why did you want to work at ECA?

ECA provides me with the opportunity to work both at the broader policy level, where I will be able to help make systemic changes to ensure consumers’ voices are heard, and at the ground level through interactions with consumers as part of our research. To me, working at ECA is an opportunity to help make an impact and shape a future energy system to ensure that the people using it are heard.

Why does what we do at ECA matter?

Energy is essential to almost all parts of our lives: communication, transport, light, heating and cooling. As our energy system makes the transition to both net-zero emissions and a decentralised system, it is crucial that at the heart of any changes are the needs of the people who use it. The work that Energy Consumers Australia does in advocating for households and small businesses is critical.

What’s a moment when you understood how important energy is to Australians?

Growing up in Australia, I never had to think about having access to reliable hot water, a heater, or even light. It was only once I started travelling to different countries that I realised how important a reliable, safe, and affordable energy system is. I think we are increasingly aware of how important our energy system is as we face uncertainty over the climate and increasingly frequent natural disasters.

What I’m most looking forward to at ECA is…

I am so excited to be able to grow my skillset and take everything on board as I learn from the exciting opportunities here at ECA and help contribute to the future of the Australian energy system.

Something interesting that most people don’t know about me is…

I love to hike and travel, preferably at the same time. Some highlights include Trolltunga in Norway, El Captain in Yosemite California, and Mt Everest Base Camp in Nepal. I am looking forward to my next adventure once we can travel again!

Click here for Marie’s bio and contact details.

Alice Gordon

Alice Gordon

What have you graduated from?

I studied a double degree at UTS in Communications (majoring in social and political science) and International Studies majoring in Mexico. 

Why did you want to work at ECA?

As someone who’s interested in the transition to renewables but also consumes and pays for energy, the work ECA does touches on a number of policy areas I am passionate about.  I’ve already found myself having more informed conversations with my family and friends about everything from how happy they are with the price of their energy bill to the future of coal in Australia!    

Why does what we do at ECA matter?

We can’t expect any kind of change to happen successfully if we don’t bring the consumer along on every step of the journey and that’s where ECA comes in!  Access to affordable energy is a hugely important right for everyone and ECA is at the forefront of making sure it remains so.    

What’s a moment when you understood how important energy is to Australians?

I had a very frustrating week while on exchange in Mexico where I lost all power and the gas in my apartment ran out!  I wasn’t able to connect with people back home, I couldn’t google or call people to find out how to fix it, I couldn’t cook or have hot showers, there was no Netflix and I wasn’t able to study.  Not to mention everything was pitch black at night!  I realised how much of an impact energy has not just on your ability to function but also your mental and physical health.  

What I’m most looking forward to at ECA is…

I’m looking forward to growing my knowledge of the energy sector!  It’s very complicated for someone that hasn’t studied science in a while but everyone has been very open and patient with their knowledge. 

Something interesting that most people don’t know about me is…

I can tap dance, play piano, do a handstand, juggle, knit, sew and play tennis.  I don’t do any of them particularly well but I’ll give it all a go!

Click here for Alice’s bio and contact details.

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