Gazprom Energy is a specialist business gas and electricity supplier – the retail arm of London-based Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd. The company started life in 1996 as Pennine Natural Gas, which was acquired by Gazprom in 2006 and later rebranded as Gazprom Energy. Based in Manchester, the business now has over 250 employees and serves in excess of 30,000 customers, ranging from SMEs to larger corporate organisations.
Having grown significantly, in 2018 the company was named the UK’s largest business gas supplier (based on volume) for the second time by market analyst Cornwall Insight.
Grace Rothery been with Gazprom Energy since 2011, when she joined as legal counsel. Prior to that Grace worked at the law firm Addleshaw Goddard, where she completed my legal training contract and qualified as a solicitor, specialising in commercial law. During this time Grace completed a couple of client secondments – including one at Astra Zeneca – which gave her a flavour of practising law in-house. Grace was drawn to this as she enjoyed applying the law throughout a business, in order to help it achieve and exceed its goals. This spurred Grace on to make the move in-house to Gazprom Energy.
How long have you been at your current employer and what does your business do?
I joined Gazprom Energy in 2011 as legal counsel before becoming Head of Legal & Regulation in 2013, managing the company’s legal and regulation teams across different markets. This included three lawyers in Manchester and Paris as well as two regulation advisers. At the beginning of 2018 I moved away from the legal team and became the Head of UK Retail at Gazprom Energy, overseeing all aspects of the UK business.
What or who was the inspiration for the current business path you are on?
The biggest inspiration throughout my career has been the supportive network of people I have around me. From an early age I’ve always been encouraged to push myself into new challenges and explore new opportunities, and Gazprom Energy is a great place to be able to do that. My current role is completely different to previous ones I’ve had, stepping away from my legal specialism into a more commercial and operational role. I was inspired to challenge myself by moving to this role by the supportive network of people I have around me.
Is there one bit of advice you wish you’d been given before you started at Gazprom Energy?
I wish someone had given me a ‘Dummies Guide’ to the energy industry! It can be very complex at times, and there are so many industry terms and processes to get familiar with. For me, this really highlights the importance of keeping things as simple as possible for our customers. One of my passions in my new role is to ensure that we continue to provide excellent customer service; part of that is our ability to make complex energy buying processes simple. I see this as being key to differentiating ourselves from our competitors.
The most important thing you’ve learned working at Gazprom Energy?
Being open minded to new career opportunities. I hadn’t planned to move away from my legal role, but when the opportunity arose I recognised that it would be a great chance to broaden my skills whilst staying with a business I love. I also think it is really important to be brave and ask the ‘stupid’ questions – we’re all always learning.
What do you see as your future business challenges?
As a business it’s great that we are now the market leader and number one within the industry. The key thing for us now is to maintain that position, which brings new challenges. It is critical that our customers choose to stay with us, and for that to happen we need to provide them with the best service.
What would you like to leave as your business legacy?
I’d like to leave a cultural legacy which puts our customers at the heart of everything we do. I plan to do this by continuing to cultivate our TLC (think like a customer) approach.
I’d also like to create an environment where employees are able to fulfil their career aspirations and have opportunities to move around business areas to learn and develop new skills.
What is your biggest achievement / success so far?
In my previous role, I was really proud of the fact that I developed a legal team which was fully integrated into, and valued by, the business. It is often the case that legal teams are distant from the rest of the business, and engaged by colleagues only when absolutely necessary. During my time with Gazprom Energy I’ve helped to demonstrate the benefits of in-house counsel and made the legal team a key part of business decisions.
From a personal perspective, I’m really proud of my career progression to date. I was lucky enough to receive training from a top law firm, working with great clients on interesting projects, and since then have joined a progressive organisation that has given me the opportunity to move into a leadership role at a young age.
When you’re not working, what do you do to relax?
I have a large extended family, which means there’s always something going on and so most of my spare time is spent with them. My husband and I share an interest in wine tasting and travel, and usually try to combine the two – so far we’ve visited wine regions in France, Italy and Spain and a bit further afield in South Africa and California.
What has been your biggest achievement outside of business?
A few years ago, I couldn’t run more than a mile, however with a lot of training and persistence last year I completed the Manchester Half Marathon.I’m a massive fan of parkrun and recently completed my 150th run, cheered on by family and friends.
What do you think you be doing if you weren’t at your current role?
In reality I’d probably still be pursuing my legal career, but in my dreams I’d be cultivating a vineyard and living off the land in Tuscany.
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