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 the Associate Professor of Energy Law at The University of Sydney Law School, where I research the complex legal issues associated with the renewable energy and emerging energy technologies, the energy transition and electricity market governance. In my personal life, I am fortunate to be the Mum of two young children (both of whom have been exposed to energy sector meetings from a very young age). My other passion is travelling and experiencing other cultures. I am particularly keen on visiting the Voodoo Festival in Benin and travelling through Central Asia someday.
What was your pathway into the renewable energy industry?
I have been deeply committed to working to further the clean energy transition since my first graduate role. I was fortunate that the large international law firm that I worked for in London offered me a secondment in 2008 to the global in-house legal team for BP Alternative Energy. This exposed me to the full gamut of legal, commercial, policy and technical issues that could arise in solar, wind, and biofuel projects, as well as their rapidly expanding emissions assets business, and the challenges in commercialising other emerging energy technologies. From that point on, I was absolutely hooked and have remained in the sector ever since.
What leadership impact do you hope to make with the scholarship?
I hope to use the opportunities and training to transform the regulatory and policy landscape that enable and constrain renewable energy technologies in Australia. In particular, I will use the scholarship to further develop my leadership skills to be able to add value to government and industry boards making key decisions that influence the future direction of the clean energy sector. I also look forward to the opportunity to mentor other women currently in the sector, as well as University students hoping to enter it, as a means of amplifying the impact of the scholarship.
In a male-dominated industry, what advice or encouragement would you give women who want to work in the clean energy sector?
The clean energy sector is a fabulous sector for women to work in. The work is interesting and intellectually challenging, but perhaps more importantly, the clean energy sector is also one that is fundamentally committed to change. This change is not only in respect of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy but also challenging some of the other norms, including the idea that the energy sector should be a male domain.
Seek out mentors in the industry and go for it. You won’t regret it!
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?
If you don’t support female leaders in the clean energy industry, you are missing out on potentially 50% of the leadership talent! The clean energy industry needs a diversity of ideas, perspectives and lived experiences to help challenge the conventional modes of energy generation and consumption and support the clean energy transition. We all benefit when we increase the diversity in our leaders and role models.
I think it is important that University students making career decisions see senior female leaders and have female role models both within the clean energy industry itself, and also in the academics that prepare them for careers in the sector, by teaching and researching in the area. This is particularly true of the STEM disciplines, where women have historically been underrepresented in permanent academic roles.
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