Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally
I studied science and chemical engineering at university. Since graduating, my passion for renewables and carbon reduction has led me to deliberately and consistently seek roles in the renewable energy industry.
I maintain this focus and commitment to renewables and carbon reduction not only in my career choices, but also in my daily life: from what I eat, to who I choose to purchase electricity from and the transportation that I elect to use.
More generally, I have always loved to learn new things. I like to be challenged, and I enjoy working with other passionate people to make positive change.
What was your pathway into the renewable energy industry?
For a Chemical Engineering graduate, working in the renewable energy industry is perhaps not a conventional career path. It is my passion for and awareness of the need for climate change to be properly addressed, and the prospect of a cleaner, greener, renewables-focused future, that has driven me down this path.
Initially, I held a project management role at a gentailer, where I was involved in the day-to-day operations of generation assets (including biogas generators).
I then became a Project Development Manager in AusNet’s transmission infrastructure team. Part of this role involved leading technical teams (including engineers) to determine what transmission infrastructure is needed to connect renewable generators, such as large-scale wind farms, to the electricity transmission network.
In the past six months, I have moved into a commercial role as an Infrastructure Investment Analyst, working on the same sorts of projects that I did in my previous role, but instead of leading technical teams, I am involved in the negotiation of the contracts underpinning the transmission solutions we offer to our clients, assessing risks, and ensuring mitigation measures are in put in place to manage risks.
What inspired you to pursue leadership within the renewables industry?
Undoubtedly, the climate crisis is the single biggest issue we are currently facing, and a lack of meaningful action will only mean more severe implications. I am inspired by the prospect of becoming a leader who helps to drive solutions in a complex industry that will help to address the climate crisis.
There was probably a time when I was frustrated that the uptake of renewables was not happening as fast as I perceived it could be. However, and as a direct result of the roles I have held in my career thus far, I now understand that there are challenges that need to be worked through, and that these challenges are multifaceted.
I have been exposed to the challenges faced by renewable generators in operation, including with the rollout of new technologies; I understand the intrinsic link between transmission infrastructure and generation, in that you cannot have one without the other; and I have gained an appreciation for the risks that developers face, the factors that impact a renewable project’s bankability and the reasons why some projects don’t proceed. To work through challenges, strong and thoughtful leadership is imperative, and this is a role I am inspired to play.
Equally, I am inspired by the prospect of becoming a leader who paves the way for other women and underrepresented groups to join the renewable energy industry, and who advocates for women and diversity in STEM.
I continue to see a shortfall of women and diversity in the industry and in STEM. I experience this personally, often being the only woman or member of a diverse group in the majority of meetings I attend. The perspective, skills and experience that can be contributed by these groups is an opportunity I believe is often being missed.
In a male-dominated industry, what advice or encouragement would you give women who want to work in the clean energy sector?
As a young woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry, working, let alone leading, can sometimes feel daunting. It is very easy to doubt your potential and to entertain the idea that perhaps this role or this industry isn’t for you. I have experienced these sorts of feelings firsthand, particularly very early on in my career.
My advice would be to absolutely go for it. If you are motivated to join the industry by passion or interest, it would be a disservice to yourself to allow your gender to be a hindrance.
As more and more women join the industry, more and more women are paving the way for other women to join too, by demonstrating what is possible. In this way, all women who join the industry will be making a difference. I am hopeful that this domino effect gains momentum going forward.
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?
As I previously touched on, combating climate change is complicated. The challenges that are being faced, and will be faced, require the skills, knowledge, insight and leadership of many different groups, including (but not limited) to women. Supporting female leaders supports the diversity that the industry requires to make the transition to a greener world possible.
In my experience, there remains a lack of women in many STEM university courses, many of which may lend to a career in renewables. At university, I would often see huge lecture theatres filled with hundreds of engineering or mathematics students, of which only a handful were female.
Accordingly, I believe that one of the ways to increase the number of women in renewables is by further encouraging, educating and providing opportunities early in life and schooling for girls and women to study STEM subjects and courses.
Then, women need to see other women in the industry, who are leading, breaking down barriers and having an impact. When your manager or the CEO of the company you work for is a woman, it makes it easier to imagine yourself in the same position.
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