Meet the smart product engineers transforming green heating

derya and carmen in london office

Hardware engineers have a key role in the fight against climate change: creating the building blocks of a clean, green future to challenge our reliance on fossil fuels.

Here at Octopus Energy, a team of smart product engineers are hard at work developing tools that could come to transform the way society uses and understands energy. Senior engineers Derya and Carmen, as well as Product Manager Jess are part of this crack team. They’re pioneers in their field: one of them literally laid the groundwork for game-changing technologies like mobile phone payments and the Hive thermostat…

In an industry where men make up almost 85% of the workforce, meet the women building the smart homes of the future.

photo of Derya in a 90's computer lab

Senior engineer Derya has spent a lifetime at the forefront of tech. She’s a powerhouse of a woman, carrying herself with a warmth and kindness that instantly puts you at ease. She started her career in Turkey, designing mobile phones in the pre-internet days, before moving to Nokia to develop connectivity technologies like Bluetooth and Wifi – she made the world’s first Wifi call (via ‘SIP’) on a mobile phone. She also helped develop the technology that allows us to make payments with our mobile phones today (NFC); tech so advanced it influenced developments in Silicon Valley. Next, Derya moved to Hive, where she was the key engineer behind their cutting edge, multiple award-winning smart thermostat. You can read more about her avant-garde career journey here.

I have always been drawn to companies that are leading the industry and changing the world for the better

Next, looking to join the most innovative players in the green energy space, Derya joined us at Octopus. She’s now been there for over 2 years, using technology and engineering to transform the UK’s outdated energy systems to help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

I love creating efficient, easy to use products that are sustainable and drive down costs for customers

Derya in the R&D lab working on a new green product

Derya’s brainchild is the Octopus Home Mini; a true game-changer in the industry. When plugged in at a home with a smart meter, it beams readings to a customers' Octopus smartphone app every 10 seconds. This offers customers an incredible amount of detailed, up to date information about their energy use, which they can see and analyse in real time, directly on their Octopus App. 'Knowledge is power, and I want to empower people with all the knowledge they need when it comes to their consumption, data and bills'

Several of the Octopus home mini, on a desk in the Octopus offices

Her next big feat: making electric heat simple and user-friendly, creating a product that will allow people to easily control their hot water and heating via smartphone from wherever they are. One of the people to first bring boiler heating controls to the UK at Hive, Derya is uniquely placed to drive this advancement.

My products are intended for the smart homes of the future. Homes where people control their own heating using an app, whether they’re home or not. Where the solar panels are connected to the EV’s charging station and home battery. Where a simple app gives customers 100% control over their usage so they can save money and stay sustainable

Her next challenge? Optimising battery storage to speed up the transition to renewable energy. ‘Electrification is the way of the future. With batteries, solar power, electric vehicles, and heat pumps we can drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. My goal is to make this possible for every home in the UK - and to make it a seamless transition’.

Derya's a true pioneer – and her achievements are doubly incredible in an industry where almost 85% of the workforce are men. That hasn't always been easy; ‘As a woman, and as someone from Turkey working in the UK engineering world, I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider, or like you don’t belong. But I quickly realised that it doesn't matter who I am or where I come from, if I’m good at what I do, I'll be accepted anywhere.’

Throughout her career, Derya had never worked with another female engineer – until Octopus that is, when she started working with Research and Development engineer, Carmen. Today they work closely together creating the Octopus Home Mini and heat pump controls project.

Carmen and Derya at a desk in the Octopus offices in London

How one spontaneous decision led Carmen to her dream career

Becoming an electronics engineer hadn’t been Carmen’s original plan – until she made the spontaneous decision days before her admissions exams at the Politehnica University of Bucharest in Romania.

Young girls need to be told they can do whatever they set their minds to. Had I known this path was an option for me, I could have been far better prepared

A polyglot, Carmen speaks her native Romanian, English, as well as some French, Spanish and Mandarin. At Octopus, she focuses predominantly on firmware development, rigorously testing and certifying every product to a high standard so customers get the best experience. She also looks after the devices fleet, resolving any bugs and making sure our smart products out in the world are functioning as they should.

I love how incredibly fast-paced and challenging our work is. It gives me the chance to prove what I can do, and broaden my horizons

Their crack team is constantly working on innovating new products, improving features, technical software development, connecting with suppliers and building hardware. ‘Whilst we work closely with other departments, we have a tiny core R&D team that is super connected. Of course working with new technologies all the time is challenging but this super supportive environment has been amazing. My advice to others is; there are no dumb questions and never put any limits on what you’re capable of’.

Whilst the engineering field is in desperate need of more female and BAME representation, the Octopus engineering department is an anomaly.

Working with Derya as our senior engineer, Jess as Project Manager and Rebecca as our Director of Product and Marketing has been a tremendous experience. I know some women have difficult experiences in our field, but I never did. And now I feel privileged to be surrounded by such amazing female role models.

Carmen is also working non-stop on the heat pump controls project, which kicked off in the middle of the pandemic. Despite delays and challenges with disrupted supply channels, she and the engineering team managed to compile the components, create a prototype and transform it into a product that will radically change the way heating works. ‘Our mission is to use tech to make clean energy affordable. But to solve a problem, you first need to understand it. That is why we want to offer our customers a simple way to monitor, understand and control their energy consumption’.

This kind of technology is the key to a better future. In the wake of the current energy crisis, it is imperative we are finding innovative solutions that reduce our carbon footprint and save customers money. Carmen and Derya have a clear vision of creating smart energy products that are accessible to all. To that end, they spend much of their time optimising their creations and ensuring the interfaces are easy to use. Ultimately they say, the job of a smart product engineer is to provide the best and easiest possible experience for the end user.

As project manager, Jess provides an insight into how customer-obsessed this smart product engineering team is.

As Project Manager, Jess’ role is to make things happen. She brings the teams together to finalise the products and deliver a simple-to-use, intuitive and customer-friendly product to the customers, all whilst making it all look so easy.

Customers are always at the forefront of my mind when it comes to our smart products. The products need to be user-friendly, intuitive and deeply useful to customers. I often ask myself; ‘would my mum be able to use this product?

Picture of project manages Jess at the Octopus offices

Jess works across the different tech, engineering and marketing departments to ensure the smart products that are built are done so efficiently and with a shared vision. ‘It’s fascinating having an overview of the incredibly complex work the engineering team does to create our products. I love getting an inside look at Derya and Carmen’s impressive expertise, they do a fantastic job and my role is to support them with making the process as smooth as possible.’

On any given day, Jess can be in meetings with manufacturers across the world, working with the in-house design team or of course, catching up with the engineers. ‘I love working so closely with Derya and Carmen. They’re both incredibly strong women and they make me feel very empowered as a woman in a male dominated field. My advice to anyone wanting to work in this field, is to never turn down an opportunity because you never know where it might lead you’.

The smart energy industry has evolved heavily in the past few years, and customers are more engaged and informed about energy than ever before. They’re far more likely to want to switch energy suppliers and keep on top of their usage to save money so products like the ones Jess is managing, are crucial in the landscape.

My ultimate mission for the department is to pave the way for the Green energy revolution. A world of zero bills homes, where customers have adopted smart products and tariffs to optimise their usage to be entirely sustainable and self-sufficient

Derya, Carmen and Jess are using technology to pave the way towards a greener, cheaper system, where customers are in total control of their energy. Engaged, empowered customers are the key to upending the old ways of the energy industry, maximising renewable energy when it’s abundant, avoiding fossil fuels when it’s busiest, and balancing the energy grid. With Octopus’ tech platform Kraken, innovative smart products, flexible tariffs and the hard work of these inspiring women, this reality is closer than ever.

Ready to find out more?

Meet our green heating experts

Spotlight on... Derya, smart product engineer Read more about the senior product engineer and mastermind behind the Octopus Home Mini
Spotlight on... Jason, expert Heat Pump manufacturer Get an insight into green heating, from the expert that built our heat pump from the ground up
Spotlight on... Peter, heat pump boffin All about heat pumps. Get the 101 on all things green heating

Published on 16th June 2023 by:

image of Samsam Farah

Samsam Farah


Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!