From Graduate Scheme to Head of the Accelerator Hub, we talk to Zahir Sumar about his career journey at Centrica.
Officially, my job title is Data Scientist and while I did practice as one for a few years, I now head up the Accelerator Hub – finding innovative ways to tackle challenges from across the business, anything from company culture to far-out future propositions.
I first joined Centrica as a graduate back in 2014. I was on the IS Graduate Scheme, so enjoyed placements in the Business Intelligence and Digital Teams. It was an interesting journey to say the least – and one that has certainly set me up for the career I’ve since built at Centrica.
The best thing about working here is the people. I've had the chance to meet and work with so many skilled and innovative colleagues from across the business, and with them I've worked on all kinds of interesting and challenging projects, from visualising Centrica’s social media interactions on Twitter to building a blockchain-based electric vehicle charging solution.
I also appreciate the flexible working arrangements we have. Last year was a very big one for me as I had my first child, moved home and changed roles. My team was extremely accommodating in helping me to juggle family life with work commitments.
Moving into my current role as Head of the Accelerator Hub was definitely one of the biggest moments of my career so far. I've quickly had to learn how to lead a multi-skilled team – and I'm very proud of that.
A while ago I was asked to be the face of a campaign which showcased some of the great ideas from across the business which we’ve been able to turn into a reality. Some friends and family saw it and congratulated me, so I'm really proud of that, too.
This year, I want to continue to demonstrate the value of the Accelerator Hub, and make sure it is seen as a centre of excellence for innovation.
One of our key projects at the moment involves creating and shaping the customer journeys for a Home Energy Management System trial. It involves, installing heat pumps, batteries and solar panels in people's homes – it’s something I’m really excited about helping to deliver.
Centrica is a great place to work for people of all walks of life. There are opportunities across a wide range of teams, from finance and HR through to data science and innovation. For me personally, I was in a place where I wasn't sure where my career was heading and I was given the opportunity to try out different things, and given the time to think about which direction I wanted to go in.
I'm really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I'd say to people: definitely apply!