Merren Wilkinson

Merren Wilkinson

Job title

Community Officer

Who do you work for?

I work for Hydro Tasmania – one of Australia’s leading renewable energy generators. Hydro Tasmania generates electricity for Tasmania and other states in Australia that are connected to a huge electricity grid called the National Electricity Market (NEM).

I have worked at Hydro Tasmania for 11 years in Hobart but I also have been able to travel all around Tasmania and parts of Canberra, South Australia and even to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory as part of my job.

What does your job involve?

I am the Community Officer in the Communications Team. The team consists of people who work in marketing and sponsorship, media and Government liaison, community engagement and writing information about the business.

Currently my job is to design and facilitate an education program for school students (Kinder to Grade 10) in north-east Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania is constructing a wind farm at Musselroe Bay and my role is to help the local community engage with the project – to understand what we are doing and why. Imagine a large business building a huge factory near your home and you don’t have any information about what the development is for. Hydro Tasmania does not work like that!

You may like to view this Youtube video in which I talk to students about the Musselroe wind farm project:

Other aspects of my job include writing information, being creative, facilitating presentations to staff and external guests, welcoming visitors, taking photos of people doing their jobs and helping to organise corporate events.

Why did you choose to work in the renewable energy industry?

I didn’t really choose to work in the industry. A position came up and I was given a great learning opportunity. I was thrown in the deep end, so I ran with it and loved it.

Before working in this industry, I was a Medical Laboratory Technician working in hospitals in Papua New Guinea and in Western Australia. When I returned to Hobart I was feeling a bit ‘lost’ as I had seen and done some amazing things. So I decided to have a career change at the age of 28 – thank you Hydro Tasmania!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the diversity.

I love mixing up my day speaking and interacting with students, teachers, stakeholders and my work colleagues at different locations around Tassie. One week I might be on site at the wind farm among cows, birds, beaches, paddocks and simply spectacular landscapes. The next week I may be traveling from school to school in rural or seaside settings or at my desk on the 10th floor in the city of Hobart.

I also love working for a company that has a great set of values, work ethics and a business that fully supports its people to work in a sustainable way.

Hydro Tasmania has a ‘family friendly’ policy which means they support me to work part-time and raise my two young boys. Working for a company that assists their people to find a balance in life between work, family and play is really important.

What has been one of your recent achievements?

I recently completed a certificate in Marriage Celebrancy and I am now waiting to become a registered Marriage Celebrant under Commonwealth Law. I can’t wait to be involved with weddings and other life-cycle events as it is a fun time in life when people celebrate with ceremony.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I get really excited about the future! My dreams are:

To watch my beautiful children become happy young adults,
To travel and meet people from different cultures,
To be involved with ceremonies that celebrate important events or milestones in people’s lives,
To see new technologies manifest and help improve the quality of living for everyone,
And to grow as a caring human being that respects all life on Earth.
What are some of the other benefits of your job?
Hydro Tasmania encourages their people to grow and develop skills and knowledge that may not be directly linked with their role but could benefit them in other ways. I guess the benefit here is that we are not stagnant – no matter how knowledgeable we think we are there is always more exciting stuff to learn and be involved with.

What training did you have for this job?

Hydro Tasmania has provided opportunities for me to study educational psychology, public speaking and presenting, writing, emotional intelligence and to get out in the field to see first-hand how electricity is generated.

I have also been supported to train in Occupational First Aid, Warden (Emergency Evacuation), and Emotional First Aid. This allows me to take on extra roles as First Aid Officer, Fire Warden and Workplace Support Officer where I can assist others during challenging times.

During my study as a Laboratory Technician at TAFE, I learnt the different areas of science such as human anatomy, histology, microbiology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry and physics.

During Year 11 and 12, I studied environmental science, biology and human interactions along with maths, English and drama.

What is your advice to students?

Do what you love. Listen to advice from friends, teachers, family and mentors but do what is good for you and not what others expect of you.

Be brave. Put yourself out there to experience as many things as possible.

Find eagerness in what you are doing and enjoy it.