Thomas Webster

Thomas Webster

Graduate Strategy Analyst
Thomas studied Business Arts/Masters of Environment at University of Tasmania/Monash University

What's your job about?

TasNetworks manages Tasmania’s electricity transmission and distribution supply systems, providing electricity to over 280,000 residential, commercial and large industrial customers. As a state owned monopoly provider of electricity services, TasNetworks is routinely required to report on its business performance to regulators, shareholders and the board.

As a Graduate Strategy Analyst with TasNetworks, my primary responsibility is to help prepare our key reporting documents including; our Monthly Performance Report, Annual Report, Corporate Plan and Must Deliver updates. These reports contain high-level detail on matters of business and strategic importance and help guide decision making amongst our leaders.

Recently, I completed TasNetworks 2016-17 half-year report which outlines how we are performing against agreed targets to shareholding ministers of the Tasmanian State Government. Preparing the report required me to consult widely with stakeholders across our business. Working constructively with key stakeholders enabled me to ensure the report contained correct, up-to-date information and the right messaging. I was also required to liaise with a design consultant on the layout and presentation of the report.

Once my reporting responsibilities are fulfilled, I have scope to pick-up work from other projects within the Strategy and Stakeholder Relations group. Interesting projects I have had exposure to during my period of employment include; demand-based tariff reform, the tariff trial, ring-fencing and our 2019-2024 revenue reset. These projects are crucial for delivering on our strategic goals and adapting our business processes to meet the challenges of the rapidly evolving energy supply system.

What's your background?

I am Tasmanian born and bred, with the first four years of my life spent on a small sheep farm on the northern tip of Bruny Island. In 1988, my father bought a property in the north-east of the state, situated 10 minutes outside the small sleepy seaside town of Bridport.

 In 1993, after a family tragedy, we gave up the clean open spaces of the farm for the big smoke in Hobart. I spent my formative teenage years growing up on Hobart’s eastern shore playing sport, camping with my family and spending long hours at the beach.

After completing year 12 at Rosny College, I spent two years at Jetty Surf working as an Assistant Manager. In 2005, I started a Business Science degree at UTAS in 2005 but ended up completing a Business Arts Degree in 2009 with majors in Public Policy, Environment Studies and Business Management.

In 2011, after working as a Cheesemaker at world renowned King Island Dairy, I moved to Melbourne and undertook a Masters in Environment and Sustainability. As part of this qualification, I completed a 4 month internship with Victorian Department of Transport working on the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial as a Project Officer. My project objective was to examine measures that would promote effective electric vehicle uptake by fleets.

I moved back to Tasmania in 2013 and after two years working as Home Energy Assessor for Sustainable Living Tasmania, I returned to UTAS to complete an honours research project. My project examined the effectiveness of community engagement in the Australian wind-industry using a case -study. For this I was awarded first class-honours.

I am a keen surfer and I enjoy exploring the remote beaches around Tasmania with my mates. I love bushwalking and a keen surf/landscape photographer. I am extremely excited to have joined the TasNetworks team and I am looking forward to working in a challenging - yet fulfilling - work environment. 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

My position is quite different from the other graduate roles at TasNetworks. Many of the graduate engineering roles require a highly specialised technical understanding of the electricity supply network and related technologies. My role in contrast, requires a broad generalist understanding of our business services and the wider social, political, legal, environmental and economic landscape that TasNetworks operates in.

Given that my role touches on every aspect of the business, I need to be able to communicate effectively with a diverse range of stakeholders and tailor my communication approach to suit my target audience. Additionally, a broad understanding of our business activities allows me to build bridges between siloed knowledge sets in the business, improving my understanding of how we work as business.

Bringing all stakeholders to the table is critical for developing, implementing and executing effective business strategy. I believe that someone with a different background could do my job given the right training and leadership however, given my broad background and skills it would be a difficult role to hit the ground running if you had a highly specialised degree.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The model of electricity distribution supply and consumption is undergoing a profound transition. As consumers adopt disruptive technologies such as solar PV, battery storage and electric vehicles, TasNetworks will need to adapt the way it manages the network to accommodate changing consumer preferences.

I am working on the coal face of this dynamic business environment. The decision made in the next 5-10 years will profoundly impact on TasNetworks business performance for the 20-50 years. The fact that I can have an input into the strategic direction of the business as we head in to this exciting future makes my job both stimulating and challenging.

What are the limitations of your job?

As a graduate you are often at the mercy of others when it comes to the tasks you complete and when they must be completed. TasNetworks is an excellent organisation in that they encourage their people to deliver value yet it must be accepted there will often be tasks to be done that can be tedious and sometimes boring. It is my view that as a new starter this will frequently be the case, but if you work hard and have a go, you will gradually gain greater responsibility and autonomy.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Don’t take undergraduate study too seriously. Party, meet people and just generally have a good time. These will be some of the fondest memories of your life.
  • As much as possible, gain practical work experience while you study. University woefully underprepared me both as a job seeker and a young professional. Seek out internships and extra circular activities where possible. It is these experiences that will put you ahead of the curve when it comes time to applying for a coveted graduate role.    
  • Build good relationships with your tutors and lecturers. These people have insights which you can use in both your academic study and as your start your career as a job-seeker/young professional.