Habitat Energy Explored: Q&A with Eleonora Pilla, Operations Director

Category: Global, People

Date: 31 January 2023

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Habitat Energy is expanding fast, with plans to grow our team globally to around 100 people in 2023. But what’s it actually like to work at the forefront of the clean energy transition? In the first of a new blog series, #HabitatEnergyExplored, we chatted to Eleonora Pilla, who joined the team back in 2018. Ellie helped to establish our all-important trading function and is now part of the company’s leadership team, overseeing our global expansion. Find out what she thinks are the best things about working at Habitat Energy, and why it’s good to disagree with your boss… sometimes!

What does your job involve?

I joined as the company’s first trader in 2018, and helped to establish the UK trading function, in particular working with our data science team to develop our algorithmic trading capabilities and create new trading strategies. Now I work internationally, assessing new business opportunities and ensuring we’re allocating resources effectively to deliver the highest quality service.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really like the fact that I am involved in different areas of the business and there are always new challenges to solve. My job is very varied, there is always good cooperation between teams and the shared mindset is one of problem solving.

How do you manage time in the office versus working from home?

I had a good amount of time when I first joined the company working in Oxford with the team. Now we’re all much more used to the idea of hybrid working, but it’s definitely helped that we are a group of people that know each other well. You have to make an active effort to maintain those relationships. I visit the office regularly, and I always make time for drinks or dinner with people, to keep those relationships alive.

Which of Habitat Energy’s values resonates with you most?

Building relationships based on trust is especially important for me. Trust is what enables remote work, because you can rely on each other without having that continuous feedback or presence. That’s also how I like to work with members of my team, so giving them the right amount of guidance, but also that autonomy to make decisions and build a sense of ownership.

How do you balance work and personal life? 

That’s work in progress! I enjoy my job so I don’t mind bringing it home sometimes. But I have learned not to over-promise, and while I have a long list of to dos, I am aware that they’re not all going to get done today or tomorrow.

How did you get into renewables?

I studied energy engineering with the idea of being part of the clean energy transition. To begin with I was very much like, ‘Oh, I hate nuclear and I hate gas’ and I wanted to make an instant change. Now I see that there is a lot of complexity that you have to account for. But it’s very interesting to be part of a company that is working towards a greener future and to see the impact that your work has.

What do you think the industry should be doing to promote more diversity and inclusion?

There is a huge variety of companies and roles within energy, so there is an opportunity to go out to schools and universities and explain about the different career paths that exist and the skills that are needed. It’s not just engineering. For example, a finance student might think their only option is to go and work in a bank. But instead they could work in renewable energy as a trader, or for a developer financing renewable projects. There are a lot of stereotypes to unpack and there’s a lot of work to do to help students understand the opportunities that are out there.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?

Sit somewhere between being humble and being self confident. It’s important to be humble, to learn and absorb from other people. But you should have some self-confidence, and know that even though you’re junior, you still have a mind of your own and it’s okay if your opinions diverge from your bosses’. It’s good to bring a new perspective!

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who use their resources, whether it’s time or money, to make a real change. I’m thinking about people that use their knowledge and resources to make a thoughtful, and lasting contribution to the world. I also admire people that speak their mind and are not afraid to challenge the status quo.

What’s the best thing about working at Habitat Energy?

I think people feel a lot of ownership. And I think that’s because we have a very flat hierarchy and every voice and perspective is heard. Plus we have a great team; smart and fun to work with!

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