May 2023

Spotlight on EngTech: Michael Smith

IGEM shines a spotlight on EngTech member, Michael Smith, Senior Project Manager at DNV

As our series of case studies continues, we’ve been speaking to some of our EngTech members, asking them about their professional journey and how IGEM has supported them in their careers so far. Michael Smith is a Senior Project Manager at DNV.

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Michael joined the gas industry 19 years ago as an apprentice Main Layer/Craftsman, following some sound advice from his father, who spent his entire career with NGN before moving into management some years later. Michael describes his dad as one of his engineering heroes, adding: “He was a great engineer, one I learned so much from and I credit him with helping me get to where I am today.”

Michael discussed his his new role with us. He said: "I’m now a Senior Project Manager for DNV. Following the safe delivery of a number of high profile hydrogen projects as part of Northern Gas Networks’ H21 department, of which DNV were project partners, the opportunity presented itself to continue working within the renewable energy sector, and the rest is history.

"I’ve been with the company around 14 months, and have enjoyed the journey, and the many challenges that have presented themselves so far."

When discussing his previous experience, Michael said: “Until I accepted my role within H21, the majority of my career was spent in distribution, where I specialised in replacement expenditure, E&R and connections as a Totex Site Manager, so my H21 was vastly different,” he says. 

“I  spent my time managing two bespoke test facilities, one of which is located in Spadeadam, Cumbria, and the other in South Bank, Teeside. I worked closely with project partners DNV and we tested a variety of different network procedures in use within the gas industry, only this time under hydrogen conditions. 

“It is something which had never been done before and was very exciting. In order to convert the existing gas distribution network, it's imperative that NGN carry out any necessary testing to enable us to transport hydrogen both safely and effectively. It also helped to gain a better understanding of how hydrogen varies from of natural gas.

“As well as that, I was also assigned as Project Manager for NIA275, a project focused on the compatibility of service pipes and their components when carrying hydrogen to a consumer’s home – a crucial project for the industry as a whole.

“One of the most important aspects of gas transport is supplying our many customers, and this project sets out to identify if there could be any issues with our current service population, as well as provide any future mitigation, should there be any.

“The project has been quite an eye-opener. I have experience of managing my own projects, however, due to this coming under the innovation umbrella, things were slightly different, and it took some getting used to initially. It was, however, nice to deliver my first project for H21, and I'm looking forward to taking what I've learnt and applying it again in the future.”

Discussing his decision to become a member of IGEM, Michael says “I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to enhancing my own career, and IGEM was the best place to help satisfy that. 

“Becoming an EngTech has enabled me to gain recognition for my engineering skills and competence – something I have always been keen to achieve. It’s also the first step on the ladder to becoming an Incorporated Engineer, which is next on my radar.

“Thanks to IGEM, I have a greater understanding of the gas industry as a whole, including the many new technologies and practices currently on the horizon – so it’s been fantastic for my personal development.

“It has also enabled me to network with other like-minded people from other industries, which has proved very rewarding.”

His advice to others considering a career in gas? “Go for it. The gas industry is a very exciting industry to be involved in at the moment, with lots of new opportunities on the horizon, so, for those looking for an exciting career with endless possibilities, the gas industry could be a perfect fit for you.”