A Day in the Life with Lisa Cooke of MCS

We’re pleased to welcome Lisa Cooke, operations and communications director at MCS, to our feature that looks behind the lens at a day in the life of key people in the industry.

We’re pleased to welcome along Lisa Cooke from MCS for our popular feature, a Day in the Life.

Name: Lisa Cooke
Organisation: MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme)
Job title: Operations and communications director
Location in the UK: Sci-Tech Daresbury, Cheshire
Your company/business in one line: MCS is the standards organisation for small-scale domestic renewable energy and technology across the UK.

My alarm goes off at …

The first thing I do each day is …
Start replying to emails and messages on my phone from bed.

I prepare for the day ahead by …
Checking my personal and work calendar for what I’ve got on, where I need to be, and who I’ll be meeting with.

I can’t leave the house without …
My three-year-old son, Arlo.

My typical day …
After a whirlwind morning of getting up and ready, I’ll usually leave the house for around 7.20am, and head to nursery to drop off Arlo. From there, I’ll drive into the office and arrive just before 8am to start my day. Each workday for me is very different, as my role spans many business functions, including our Helpdesk, People and Culture team, Scheme Management team and Communications team.

Lisa at MCS Installer Show earlier last year.

Here’s an insight into my day today:
8.30am: I had an early catch-up with Sarah, our Head of People, to discuss some actions we needed to work through to support one of our teams and check in on some recruitment plans.

9am: I then had my weekly catch up with Dave, our Helpdesk Team Lead, to check in on what’s happened the previous week, if there are any trends, and what interactions we’ve had with stakeholders. I’ll try and support with any troubleshooting. We’ve recently launched a new web chat function on our website, so it’s good to hear how that’s working and how people use it.

10.30am: Next, I attended our fortnightly scheme catch-up with Alex, our scheme manager, Dave, and Beth, our senior compliance analyst. We worked through the actions from our previous meeting and updated each other on everything scheme-related. We discussed some changes we need to make to the MCS Installations Database, reviewed several enquiries the Helpdesk have had regarding the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the grant uplift, and planned some internal communications.

12.30pm: I’m proud to be a member of the Communications sub-group for the UK’s Solar Taskforce. I’m supporting the development of some target audience mapping, so I had a call with several other group members to progress with this work.

1pm: Next, I had a quick catch-up with Jordan, our events coordinator, to check in on plans for the MCS Christmas party and ensure we are on track with our event organisation.

1.30pm: I grabbed some lunch at my desk and caught up on emails that landed in my inbox while in meetings.

I found out that we received an enquiry from a journalist who wants some more information on a recent story we’ve shared about how well Wales is performing when it comes to installing small-scale renewables. I signposted them to the MCS Data Dashboard and provided a quote. The MCS Data Dashboard is the most comprehensive repository of data on small-scale renewables in the UK and we are proud to freely share our data with the public.

2pm: I then met with the policy teams at the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to catch up on the changes that MCS are making to the scheme. We provided an update on where we were up to and answered any questions they had.

3pm: I’m back with Dave, but this time we caught up on the Outbound Team. They’ve been tasked to contact every customer who’s had an installation completed under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to complete a customer satisfaction survey. The results are fed back to Ofgem, who administers the grant scheme. We checked in on what data we’ve had, what outcomes we’ve seen, and how the team have performed. We then worked through any outstanding actions and prepared for our next meeting with Ofgem.

4pm: I joined Matt and Tara, from our communications team in a meeting with Martyn and Steve, our new sector skills managers. We are working together to develop a communications plan in support of our new low carbon heating technician apprenticeship. The apprenticeship was recently awarded a £22,000 funding band and we are now trying to support colleges and employers to recruit apprentices for a September 2024 start.

5.15pm: I left the office and collected Arlo from nursery on my way home. When we arrived home, he wanted snacks and to play, then he had a bath and he went to bed around 6.30pm. My favourite part of the day is reading his bedtime story – he is a big Julia Donaldson fan, and tonight we read The Smeds and The Smoos!
While I did bedtime, my husband Scott made dinner for us and we sat down to eat and catch up on our days around 7pm.

My most memorable work moment …
In September, our newest product certification body invited us to visit its operations and some of its stakeholders in Shanghai, China. I joined Ian and Alex, our Scheme Manager, to spend a very busy week there, but it was an incredible opportunity to learn about their plans for small-scale renewables across the globe. We got to see how solar PV modules and battery storage systems are tested to meet our Standards. Tests included some for safety but also to see how different conditions can affect the degradation of module power and performance.

My favourite part of the trip was visiting a factory to see solar PV module production lines and seeing what research and development takes place to innovate renewable technology. I was particularly proud to see the references and importance placed on MCS product Standards. It was my first time visiting China, and I just loved the opportunity to meet the friendliest people and learn a little bit of Mandarin.

The worst part of my job …
Small-scale renewables are a proven key ingredient to support the UK’s drive to Net Zero. So, I’d say the worst part of my job is dealing with the industry’s challenges in battling misconceptions about the technologies.

The best part of my job …
Without a doubt, the team that I work alongside. We’ve got a great mix of people working for MCS, undertaking many varying roles. We’ve got a wonderful culture, and everyone works incredibly hard and is very passionate about our drive to give people confidence in home-grown energy. In the almost five years I’ve been at MCS, we’ve gone from a team of 5 to a team of 65. Our team is 75% female, and I’m incredibly proud of that. The team is one family, and we all have so much respect for each other.

I relax after work by …
Spending quality time with my family, having a glass of wine and/or a Blaze class at the gym.

On my bedside table is …
My phone charger, a lamp, a glass of water, and make-up remover wipes.

The last thing I do each day is …
A final check through my social media channels, emails and messages. I’ll make sure I’ve replied to any outstanding messages from my friends and check that my alarm is set. I’ll cross-check my day with my husband, and we’ll plan practical logistics for the following day.

I’m normally in bed by …
10 pm latest!