Jun 2023

Spotlight on Graduate: Nicola Asker

As part of International Women in Engineering Day, our Marketing Communications Co-ordinator, Jordanne Allsopp, has been speaking to women across the industry. Nicola Asker is a Senior Asset Manager – Compressors at National Gas and a Graduate Member.

Describing being a woman working in the gas industry, Nicola said:I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have encountered very minimal discrimination or discouragement due to being a woman.

“I have had many great female role models and I now work in a team with amazing engineers, many of whom are also women, however, I know that’s not the norm. There are still barriers for us to collectively identify and address, so that anyone passionate about tackling challenges and serving our customers is keen to join and be able to be themselves at work.”

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Nicola began her career by studying MEng in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland and was later awarded a scholarship from IET’s Power Academy, which got her interested in energy.

When looking for her first engineering role, she was inspired to join National Grid (now known as National Gas) due to studying a power industry regulation module in her final year.

She said: “I was thrilled when I secured a place on the National Grid graduate scheme. However, I’d applied to the electricity side and due to a fluke snowstorm ended up with a place in Gas Transmission instead.”

She has since completed three graduate placements in different parts of gas transmission at National Gas and has worked her way up the Asset Management Plan (AMP) Team. She is now the Senior Asset Manager for compressors where she is responsible for their ten year investment plan for the compressor stations in their network.

Nicola explains that her job makes a difference: “I work closely with the rest of our AMP team and wider internal and external stakeholders to make decisions for the future of our network. These decisions are worth millions of pounds, and we need to get them right so that we all have the access to the gas that we need to cook and heat our homes.

“I’m really proud of working for National Gas Transmission because our network is so fundamental to most of our lives and it is the knowledge that I’m making a difference which motivates me.”

She then explains some of the key elements of her job: “In recent years I have had a key role in our regulatory submissions to our financial regulator, Ofgem. I’m particularly proud of our recent St Fergus Emissions submission, which required pulling together people from all across the business to produce an aligned, robust short and long-term investment proposal. Talking about this work recently, I was really pleased to win the Midlands round of the Pipelines Industries Guild Sir John Parker Paper competition.


“My current role also involves leading others in completing our part of the investment plan, which I really enjoy as it builds upon my previous experience of coaching graduates. It’s so rewarding to support them in their development and pulling on their unique strengths allows us to produce the best possible plan.”

When talking about why she became an IGEM member and how it has benefitted her career, she said: “Upon joining National Gas, I was conscious that I had very limited gas knowledge and so I joined IGEM because they offered events and content directly applicable to my new role to get relevant industry news and support.

“In my early career I served on IGEM’s Gas Transmission and Distribution Committee which was a really interesting insight into completely different businesses within the industry and the challenges that we collectively face. I hope in the near future to progress my professional registration application with IGEM and am sure I’ll continue to develop through use of their talks, conferences and publications.”

Nicola also talks the future of gas and how hydrogen can play an important part in the energy story.

She said: “We know the importance of reducing emissions and reducing our impact on the environment… To be honest I’m slightly intimidated by the scale of the problem we have to tackle in order to design and build the networks of the future while continuing to operate the networks we have today. But I also know that as an industry we’ve faced and overcome huge challenges in the past and we are working together more than ever to find the answers.

“I suspect the focus now on net zero and transitioning to cleaner fuels will attract a new generation of engineers too.”

Nicola is also a mother and she expresses how important it is to have a supportive network around you within work: “I am really fortunate to have been surrounded by supportive colleagues and managers but it still meant a significant change to so many aspects of the way that I worked.

“Some of those challenges included expressing at work, changing to work part time and continually trying to find a work/life balance that works for me, my family and my team. If anyone would like to chat about their own experiences of life as parent working in the gas industry, I’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn!”