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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.

Gina Zheng

Gina Zheng
Project Manager

Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally

I am dedicated to contributing to a sustainable and climate-just world, and have spent the vast majority of my career working and volunteering with a range of for-purpose sustainability organisations in Australia and in the Pacific.

Currently I am working as a Project Manager at Neoen, where I am responsible for building and managing relationships to deliver grid-scale clean energy projects across Australia. Specifically, I helped to develop Australia’s largest solar farm, the Western Downs Green Power Hub, and led the development of the ACT’s first grid-scale battery, the Capital Battery. I am also currently a Non-Executive Director at SolarShare, Australia’s largest community-owned solar farm, which seeks to empower communities in a just energy transition.

A policy nerd and writer at heart, I am also a renewable energy law post-graduate candidate at the University of Sydney (coincidentally, working under the supervision of fellow Chloe Munro Recipient, Penelope Crossley!). Previously, I worked with the World Wildlife Fund, the Fiji Environmental Law Association, the ACT Environmental Defenders Office and at the ANU College of Law, Climate Change Institute.

As a lover of the outdoors, and a proud Canberran, I try and spend as much of my spare time in Canberra’s gorgeous nature reserves and national parks, hiking, trail running or just slothing in the sun.

What was your pathway into the renewable energy industry?

As the largest contributor to carbon emissions, I believe that making sustainable our consumption of electricity is the most powerful way to reduce our carbon footprint and have a positive impact on our climate. In recognising scale of value, I have dedicated my career to contributing to a low-carbon transition through industry and academic engagement in the clean energy sector.

I have always been values-driven, hungry to learn and people-focused, and so I am grateful to work in the clean energy sector. As a multi-disciplinary sector, working in this space inherently requires collaboration and cooperation. Characterised by innovation and leading-edge thinking, there is always an opportunity to learn new things while also being able to contribute meaningfully to the world I want to live in.

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

In this industry, I’ve frequently been the only (or one of very few) woman in the room. I hope by continuing to participate and support initiatives that encourage women to get involved the clean energy sector, I am playing my small part in inspiring other women to engage in an incredibly meaningful and impactful sector. And, in that same respect, I am excited about the opportunity to learn from the other wonderful women!

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

In those moments of diversity-lacking frustration, remind yourself why you want to work in the clean energy sector to find courage in believing you have a role (whatever role that may be) to play in this sector. We all have our own reasons for wanting to contribute to the clean energy transition and even if you often feel like the sore thumb in the room (I often do!), find courage in those reasons, to back yourself and the important contributions you are making to the clean energy transition.

And know that by virtue of just engaging in this industry as a woman, you too are also helping to pave the way for other women. Every moment you speak up, make advantage of an opportunity or take stead, you are playing an important role in contributing to greater representation and diversity in an incredibly meaningful sector.

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 deserve a seat at the table. One of the greatest aspects of the renewables industry is that it is inherently a multi-disciplinary industry. When you say you work in “renewables”, you could literally be coming from any discipline – power systems engineering, financial, legal, civil engineering, anthropology, legal, you name it. Diversity doesn’t stop at the discipline. Diversity in lived experiences, perspectives and approaches to problem-solving is facilitated by a breadth of genders and cultures and will be critical to the sector’s success.

Representation of women in the renewables industry is lagging behind other industry, and this is a result of many systemic factors. Education (at the secondary and tertiary level) can play a key role in addressing some of system issues, in debunking socially entrenched perceptions of sectors typically associated with heavy industries, infrastructure, engineering and construction.

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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