Iolo Llyr Hughes

MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering, 2016
Consultant, Copperleaf

I am a consultant within Copperleaf's UK-based Customer eXperience (CX) team. Copperleaf is a provider of decision analytics software solutions to companies managing critical infrastructure. My day-to-day activities principally involve working with our client organisations to implement the Copperleaf software within their businesses once purchased, delivering a solution that then seamlessly forms a part of enhanced business-as-usual activities. Whilst my work location is home, I enjoy being able to regularly travel to client sites and engage with their teams in person.

What’s the best thing about what you’re doing now?

The best thing about my role is the opportunities it gives me to learn about the asset management working practices of a wide range of organisations. I have been working at Copperleaf since February 2021 and in that time I've worked on projects for clients within the rail, electricity, gas and highways industries. Copperleaf is also a fantastic company to work for, with a progressive culture that has focus on the experience and development of its employees.

What made you interested in your current role?

The project-based nature of the role, the opportunity it offered to work within asset management across a wide range of sectors and, in turn, the ability to enhance the working practices of organisations at the heart of the UK's efforts to achieve net-zero carbon targets.

iolo llyr hughes

How has your career developed since graduating?

After graduating from the University of Birmingham with an engineering degree, I took a natural next step of joining an engineering-based graduate scheme at National Grid, specifically within the Electricity Transmission Owner business. The National Grid graduate scheme is particularly prestigious; I'm certain my experiences at UoB made it possible for me to secure a position there. I was fortunate to be able to experience placements within key business areas, such as the Control Centre, Capital Delivery and Operations. Beyond the graduate scheme, I experienced life as a consultant at a utility infrastructure consultancy UCML, predominantly serving the construction industry. Various roles there required me to manage engagements with utility distributors to define land servicing solutions that best met client requirements. At the height of the pandemic I moved to the software sector, again as a consultant. I’ve been in that role since and thoroughly enjoy life at Copperleaf. This role continues to present opportunities to learn about a wide range of organisations managing critical national infrastructure, as well as asset management and software industry practices. 

What skills you learned from degree or time at University would you say you use most in your job?

The analytical skills developed during my engineering degree have certainly been put to good use. However, the most critical skill sets I use daily are communication, stakeholder engagement and management, project management and time management. Life as a consultant is fast-paced, therefore effective and efficient communication ensures that I'm able to deliver a high work volume to high standards, consistently. My degree and extracurricular activity, such as completing the Personal Skills Award and being a member of my department's society committee EESE Soc, certainly helped me along my journey of developing these skills, but I acknowledge that I still have a way to go yet!

What motivates you?

The challenge of always bettering myself. I am very conscious of my own professional development and the goals I set myself is what motivates me on a daily basis

We Are (Third Width)

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

I applied to Birmingham as I enjoyed the department at Open Day. I loved the campus and the course itself seemed to be of interest to me. I'll also confess that I applied to Birmingham as the university was located within my ‘Goldilocks Zone’ – relative to my home location in rural North Wales, it was close enough that I could call for help from home when needed, but far enough away that my parents couldn't do impromptu visits and disturb my independence!

What are your fondest memories of the University?

My fondest memory of the University is of the campus. Being from rural North Wales originally, the prospect of moving to the UK's second city was both exciting and daunting. Whilst I had access to the intensity of the big city, the green, secluded campus offered a form of familiar escape when needed.

Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?

Yes, I participated in various initiatives within my own department of Electrical, Electronic and Systems Engineering. I led the department's football team(s) in my latter two years, and was a key member EEE Soc in that time. I also was a tutor on the PASS scheme, which saw me provide extracurricular support to first and second year students with their tutorial exercises. Beyond the department, I also completed the Personal Skills Award which is an additional qualification offered by the University that gave me an opportunity to further develop softer skills, ones that I put to good use on a daily basis in my current role as a Consultant.

How did your time at university help you start your career?

My time at UoB shaped my life and career path in many ways. When I started at university, I was convinced that my interest was in electronics and computers. However, as I learned more about the electrical and energy industries, I became increasingly confident that my life post-graduation would be in them. That turned out to be true, and eventually led me to where I am today. UoB, and more specifically the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) and the Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering also presented opportunities for me to develop skills beyond the scope of academia. As per a previous answer, I made the most of several extra-curricular activities available to me to learn about myself and develop skills that have benefited my personal and professional life.

Is there anything you wish you knew either before you started your studies that would have better helped prepare you?

I particularly enjoyed UoB's approach of allowing first year students to pick a couple modules outside the main discipline (MOMD) to feature within their first year studies. I made the most of this opportunity and picked modules of interest to me that I otherwise wouldn't have encountered: Astronomy and Astrophysics. I thoroughly enjoyed these modules and I'm glad I chose the MOMD that I did. They were a welcome change from an otherwise heavy schedule of engineering-specific modules/lectures. I looked forward to the MOMD lectures and I believe they energised me for the modules that were a part of my main discipline. I saw fellow students choose modules that were more closely aligned with the main discipline and then later regretted it. I'd therefore encourage any prospective student to strongly consider trying something new and different. I learned that UoB provides a safe place for you to experiment with your choices, to help you learn about yourself.

What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?

Don't be afraid to try new things. Be open to new experiences, within academia, extra-curricular opportunities, and within your personal life. This will best place you to confidently start your journey post-graduation in a manner that will ensure you maximise your potential, balanced with your interests and happiness in mind. The latter being critical for the longevity of ‘success’ beyond academia.

Wise words from Iolo

“I made the most of the opportunity to complete the Personal Skills Award. Throughout my Engineering degree, this qualification gave me a structure to also develop and reflect on my softer skills. I believe this helped set me apart from other graduates of such degrees, where focus is primarily on developing technical knowledge and analytical skills.”