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In conversation with the successful Chloe Munro Scholarship 2021 recipients, who will all be undertaking a leadership course delivered by Education Provider, Women & Leadership Australia.

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Astrid Herber
Operations Manager
Symmetry Solar

Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally

I started my journey working in the clean energy sector in Adelaide, then relocated to Sydney (after the feed-in tariff scheme closed in 2011). Following that I moved back to Adelaide for a brief stint (until the second feed-in tariff scheme closed in 2013), before moving into Commercial & Industrial Solar PV in Melbourne, where I currently reside.

As of 2021, I am the Operations Manager for Symmetry Solar, who specialise in the installation of C&I Solar PV & battery solutions, and now electric vehicle charging stations.

The Solar PV industry, commonly referred to as ‘the solar coaster’, has been a tumultuous ride over the last decade. These experiences have tested me, yet I feel a strong sense of commitment to the sector & our purpose.

Knowing I’m contributing to a more sustainable future inspires me to persist. My journey to date includes three interstate moves to pursue different roles, opportunities & unfortunately leaving behind multiple insolvent employers, largely caused by post-rebate market slumps.

What was your pathway into the renewable energy industry?

I was recruited by a solar retailer start-up owned by some contacts in Adelaide, in 2010, when the industry was in its infancy. Seemingly predestined timing meant that my previous role of 5 years was made redundant due to the business being acquired by Aussie Broadband.

In my first month at Love Energy I broke the company sales record, a result of my enthusiasm for high quality, financially viable, sustainable solutions that aligned with my personal values.

In the years that followed I continued to excel in sales roles, while obtaining technical skills through electrotechnology studies resulting in my Clean Energy Council Solar PV Grid Connect Design Accreditation.

This commitment to learning & advancing my skills has allowed me to take on roles such as National Solar System Designer, Lead Solar PV Solar Consultant, Director of Project Advisory & continues to assist in my current role as Operations Manager.

the industry.

What leadership impact do you hope to make with the scholarship?

I feel there is still a gap in understanding what it is like to be a woman in this sector. Underlying, deeply ingrained gender biases and at times a simple lack of common interests & understanding resulting in feelings of exclusion and a subtle but pervasive feeling of always being ‘on the outside’.

As someone with a strong sense of ethics, I believe in inclusiveness, acting with integrity & valuing the contributions of all team members, while nurturing our planet. I want to help create workplaces that consistently deliver these outcomes.

I hope the scholarship course will allow me to develop my leadership skills, providing me with the opportunity to advance into roles where I can achieve the most impact.

In a male-dominated industry, what advice or encouragement would you give women who want to work in the clean energy sector?

To women who want to join the industry, I would say, don’t expect it to be without its challenges – but please, come in numbers & together we can create a much-needed shift!

I would love to see more women in trades, electrical engineering, sales & consulting roles. The transition is certainly starting to happen, though young women may still be led towards more traditionally female dominated sectors such as HR, marketing, or admin roles.

It’s always easier to follow the path of least resistance. However, as more of us take on the challenge, the easier it becomes for those who follow. I invite all strong, ambitious young women with a desire to make a difference.

Why is it important to support female leaders in the clean energy industry and what improvements could be made to increase the number of women in renewables?

I think that women need support, recognition, role models, ideally some friendships, to feel connected to their work.

One thing Verdia excelled at was gender balance, which was sadly the first time I had experienced it. Sharing our Victorian office with high-calibre women like Rebecca Tilbrook & Ellie Shirdel, having sensational interstate counterparts such as Alina Dini, Rachael Scott & Ura Sarfejoo was inspiring & motivating beyond belief.

I believe that if young women can enter the workforce into this sort of environment, they will have the opportunity to feel motivated, build & accelerate their careers, thrive & creating a virtuous cycle of success for themselves & the industry.

Further information

If you would like more information on our scholarship opportunities, please click here or email [email protected]

Scholarship Partners

This Scholarship is made possible by the generosity of our partners.

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