Restart Festival inspires Norfolk student to set up her own business


A Norfolk woman has bounced back from Covid-19 related redundancy and set up her own business with the help of the Swedish energy group Vattenfall, who have also become her first client.

Nineteen-year-old Lucy Coubrough’s career path suffered a setback when her apprenticeship with British Airways ended at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Undeterred, Lucy, from Norwich, knew that it was time to apply herself to a new challenge and decided to start her own business six years earlier than originally planned.

She is now the founder and director of Alfico Project Management, a consultancy she established with the help of Vattenfall. Lucy is also continuing her degree in Construction Management at Anglia Ruskin University while running her business in parallel.

The link between Vattenfall and Lucy began while she was studying at the University Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) in Norwich. A team from the company visited the college to deliver a workshop to students.

The students’ task was to project manage the development of a  theoretical wind farm, through which they could learn about the real-life process. The tasks ranged from designing the offshore wind farm and necessary onshore transmission infrastructure, taking into account environmental factors and local community views, to generating a viable business case for their proposal. This stimulated Lucy’s interest in the energy sector.

From UTCN, she went on to British Airways to begin her apprenticeship in September 2019 and all went well until the impact of the pandemic meant her time with the company came to an end. Lucy reached out to Vattenfall who, knowing of her interest in project management, engaged her to co-ordinate part of the company’s role in the Restart Festival.

The festival was organised by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to provide free training, workshops, spaces to exchange ideas and advice to Norfolk and Suffolk’s businesses after the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Lucy Coubrough said: “I had a long-term plan of setting up my own business by the age of 25, and I am set up and ready to go six years early.

“Sue Falch-Lovesey and the Vattenfall team have been so supportive. When I spoke to Sue about wanting to be a project manager, she explained the importance of apprenticeships and helped me find a placement.

“To come out of my apprenticeship and fall straight into something was undeniably helpful. Vattenfall has been the turning point in helping me shape my career.”

Susan Falch-Lovesey, Vattenfall’s local liaison officer and skills champion, said: “Lucy launched herself into project managing Vattenfall’s input into the Restart Festival and did a wonderful job. She brought together the students’ inspiring offer, crafted the Vattenfall elements and professionally hosted the event. Setting up her own business seems to be such a natural step for Lucy and I hope we have an opportunity to work together again.

“This experience has helped highlight the many employment opportunities offered by offshore wind projects like Norfolk Vanguard and Boreas. As well as the technical and engineering roles associated with the turbines and construction, there are a number of other jobs that need to be done, including project management, quantity surveying, finance, and analytics.”

Sophie Skipp, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at UTCN, added: "Lucy is a great role model for UTCN students and demonstrates how a career path can sometimes take a different route to your initial plans. I am sure that she will be very successful, and that her enthusiasm and professionalism will bring her many clients."

Lucy is now looking to the future. She said: "I am already in advanced discussions about two more projects in the energy sector. I am also actively searching for other new contracts to take on."