The Oil Industrys Best-kept Secret - A book full of inspiration and advice

Helen Dickinson

Assistant Chief Executive Local and Central Government

During my university studies, about one-third of my fellow students were women. When I’d decided to stay on and do my PhD at university, a head of department said to me: ‘Good, there aren’t enough role models in physical chemistry’. It was true – at the time, he couldn’t name more than one. It didn’t put me off at all as I’d never felt I was treated any differently as a woman anyway. I do think role models make a difference. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they do signal that it’s possible to progress. Once you have a few high-profile trailblazers, it’s probably true that more people will follow the same path.

Helen Dickinson took an indirect – but highly rewarding – route to her post leading the Energy and Transport Tax team at HM Treasury. With a PhD in physical chemistry, she embarked on a civil service career that took her into scientific-related roles with government departments – her first job as science policy adviser involved protecting the planet from asteroid strikes! She then went on to enjoy 3 years as science attaché at the British Embassy in Paris.

Her growing fascination with the interlinked subjects of science and economics spurred Helen on to re-train as an economist, and she secured a Treasury post focused on energy and climate strategy as she developed her career at the heart of government. From central government she moved into local government giving her a chance to return to her native Newcastle, where she is now Assistant Chief Executive of the city council.

PhD, Physical Chemistry, University of Oxford

2006 International Energy Policy Adviser, Department for Business, Energy and Regulatory Reform



Science attaché, British Embassy Paris

inside a chemistry lab

Paris, France




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