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.
Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally
I am a Health and Safety Advisor working for Ausgrid and PLUS ES. I have been working as a passionate advocate of safety and the Environment for the last nine years, with three and a half of those years in the field of Emerging Energy Technologies. I am currently completing a Master’s Degree in Research to improve the safety of smart electricity meters through remote monitoring and am an active participant in a gender equality working group through my employer. I have also been a passionate advocate for both clean energy and the advancement of women within industry, by taking part in working groups to shape the future direction of Ausgrid.
In my day-to-day role with PLUS ES, I am usually the first point of contact when it comes to questions or support needs with respect to safety. I mentor and support our operational teams to facilitate safety processes that allow workers to go home safely every day.
In my spare time, I love to surround myself in nature. My partner and I are avid cyclists, having completed the Great Ocean Road recently on our pushbikes. I love the physical challenge of cycling, but also enjoy the connection to our surroundings which is experienced through this. By cycling, you get to experience all the smells and sounds associated with a place, which is often missed in a car.
I also enjoy cooking and have spent much of the lockdown inflicting my various baked goods onto my long-suffering colleagues. They have had to endure lemon meringue tarts, chocolate brioche, orange blossom spiced yoghurt cake, Chinese soup dumplings and many other “projects”.
What was your pathway into energy management?
Although I am a qualified Chemical Engineer, I started my career working for a Tier 1 Construction company as an Environmental Advisor. It was during this time that I was fortunate to work for an employer who constantly challenged themselves to reduce the environmental and sustainability impact of their activities right through the construction planning and delivery process. This included accounting for greenhouse gases emitted during construction to the energy efficiency of final projects and the environmental footprint of materials which were used. While working for the same company, I also made the transition into Workplace Health and Safety. The project which I was involved in was awarded the Chairman’s Annual Award for Safety, which allowed me further opportunities to network with other top performing teams.
My experiences in the business allowed me to understand the impact which good practice can have for our carbon footprint. I also discovered that I wanted to work in the clean energy field because it aligns with my ethical framework which was developed through those experiences.
I wanted to move into the energy industry to have the opportunity to influence from the front end to work for a company who is environmentally aware in their designs and to continue to serve the community while these aims are being met. Thankfully an opportunity was made available three and a half years ago in the Emerging Energy Solutions Division of Ausgrid. I applied for the role, was successful and haven’t looked back since!
What leadership impact do you hope to make with the scholarship?
I understand that as a female minority in a male dominated industry, I am more visible in my role. My success or challenges can be more acutely noticed, and my performance can be generalised for the wider female population so I feel like I have a responsibility to act as a role model for others.
My success as an inclusive leader can prove to other employees that women can make effective leaders and encourage other women to aspire to these roles as well. I hope that by continuing to grow as a leader, I can make visible the challenges and needs of others in a similar position to myself, so they can follow the same path.
My role is one where I have touchpoints across the entire business, and I hope the scholarship will help me to be more effective and engaging at my role. I am hoping the skills which I learn, which include leading with influence and negotiation skills can help me to increase employee engagement and passion for their safety. I have never worked in a people leader role, and I also hope this scholarship can equip me with the skills to build and nurture a positive work environment for my team when I step into the role in the future.
I also intend to pass on the learnings and other outcomes from the scholarship by working with my mentors to embed the learnings within our organisation. I intend to promote the scholarship in our industry for future applicants, through the Gender Diversity Working Group, Network working groups and my wider organisational team. I intend to promote the outcomes of my scholarship to make the opportunity and outcomes visible to others.
In a male-dominated industry, what advice or encouragement would you give women who want to work in the clean energy sector?
My advice is to apply! We can create a new reality and future for Australia, one which is greener, more community minded and diverse by working within the clean energy industry.
By joining, you have an opportunity to join an emerging industry on the ground floor and gain influence as the industry continues to grow and mature.
It is also the opportunity to form a career which will encourage self-development. We still have a lot to learn, and there are many ways to make a difference. I have been offered opportunities which I never thought would have been possible prior to joining the clean energy Industry, including the Chloe Munro Scholarship, the chance to participate in strategy working groups which concern the future of one of Australia’s largest DNSP’s (Distributed Network Service Provider) and complete a Master’s Degree in Research which will protect the safety of our customers and workers.
Chloe Munro serves as an example to us all to question the status quo of how we currently operate. Chloe taught us to influence at all levels of government, industry and media to gain better outcomes for the future of our environment and community.
But we need people to take up the baton, and to gain the right skills to deliver in this industry. If you are passionate about our future, I recommend you not only join the Clean Energy Industry but also push yourself towards positions which will 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?
Women bring a diversity of experience and innovative ideas, which can create new perspectives and can lead to better decision making. I believe that we have an enormous potential to make a difference within the renewable energy industry. The industry is both emerging and growing, and we have the chance now to set the industry up for future success in alignment with our diversity goals and aspirations. These successes will be a future model for other industries as well. We need to start planning for this future now.
How do we ensure that we have the right skills to deliver in the future?
When we speak of attracting and retaining female leadership in the clean energy industry, we need to provide opportunities for those women to attain the skills needed to succeed. The Chloe Munro Scholarship for Transformational Leadership is a great opportunity to help women develop these skills.
I also believe that we need to support women through their whole career life cycle if we want to increase the number of women in our industry.
The first point of contact most women have with our industry is when applying for a job. Many job ads within the industry target males by using male dominated imagery and language. Organisations should focus on images and language in job ads to make them more inclusive for women. Additionally, ensuring targets for female shortlisted participants gives women a fair opportunity to interview for roles when they become available.
Females currently make up 36% of graduates entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields in Australia, however less than 5% of executives and CEO’s are women. A major point of attrition is seen when embarking on parenthood.
Our industry needs to challenge the narrative that motherhood can’t coexist with success in an elite career, and to support employees as they make these life choices. A corporate culture which is supportive of parenthood needs to embedded in conjunction with flexible working options for employees.
Another initiative which can create a more supportive environment is to offer “restart” training to parents and others who have taken a career break, to refresh their skills and confidence in key areas. This can allow parents to return to similarly skilled roles and reduce levels of underemployment post-parenthood.
If you would like more information on our scholarship opportunities, please click here or email [email protected]
This Scholarship is made possible by the generosity of our partners.