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Deirdree Polak

Harnessing data to drive the energy transition


Hi, I’m Deirdree. I was born in France, but grew up in Japan and the Netherlands too. When I was at school, I loved maths but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career. After speaking with my parents and teachers, I decided to study for an undergraduate degree in Engineering in Product Design Engineering at Loughborough University, followed by my Masters degree in Applied Computational Sciences and Engineering at Imperial College, London.

When I was at university, I particularly enjoyed learning about artificial intelligence. I’ve always had an interest in the energy industry, too, and wanted to help tackle climate change with what I chose to do for my career. So, I merged my two passions and began working at TotalEnergies as a Graduate Data Scientist.

In my role, I’ve been able to apply the skills I developed at university and am lucky to learn from my colleagues every day. One of my career highlights so far has been going offshore to a platform in the North Sea. It was amazing to see the projects I am working on in the office (or home office, as it’s been!) applied in real life. It was really rewarding!

One of my favourite projects has been developing an Energy Efficiency Dashboard which records greenhouse gasses emitted from boats and then providing recommendations on how to reduce them.

A large part of my job is developing predictive models and giving recommendations to people working on offshore platforms on how to improve how they do things. For example, based on suggestions made by me and my team, a recent project saved five days’ worth of work. It was great to see the results of our work in action and making a difference to our offshore colleagues. 

I really look up to the team I work with. It’s so inspiring to work with people who are motivated to make positive change in the energy sector. There are so many opportunities to keep developing myself and that is why I want to continue working in  this industry, on digital projects, for years to come.

When I first started working, my friends and family raised their eyebrows and thought that it was all just oil and gas – but that’s not the case. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with is taking action towards delivering net zero and TotalEnergies is a broad energy company, working across oil, gas, wind, electricity and hydrogen, biomass and solar.

For the future, I believe we all need to work together to create the infrastructure needed to make the energy transition. There are so many solutions around the world to create alternative energy sources, and it will be fascinating to be part of it.

My number one tip for those wanting to start their career in the energy industry is to not be afraid of being different. Be the voice that you want to hear and take an active part in shaping your own future.

My aim is to make the energy industry more accessible. As there are so many different paths to follow, it can be daunting at first. But there are so many opportunities waiting for you to explore!