Aurore Pont is the Operations Manager at Clenergy. As a co-chair of our Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Working Group, Aurore played a key role in the success of our recent diversity report, Empowering Everyone. Here, we took the opportunity to ask Aurore a bit more about her journey into renewables and her take on the results of Australia’s first clean energy sector diversity report.
Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally?
I am from France and have called Melbourne home since moving there in 2008. My typical French name has been the subject of many ice breaking conversations (call me Aurora everyone) and I still recall my innocence when looking for Woop Woop on Google Maps or my disbelief when hearing that Melbourne had 4 seasons in a day. I am happy to report that you can’t fool me anymore about drop bears, but I am yet to remain calm when doing hook turns.
I am a bookworm, a lifelong traveller, and a chocolate lover. I love learning about how the world works but hated maths so pursued qualifications in business. I have always had an interest in caring for the environment but somehow started in renewables by accident in 2011 (more on that below). I have ridden the solarcoaster ever since and loving it!
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for Clenergy, which in Australia is mainly known as a manufacturer of mounting systems for commercial and residential projects. I am currently in Operations which I love because of its endless variety. Clenergy is ambitious, innovative, dynamic and our culture underpins these traits. We create and maintain a respectful environment where everyone is heard and supported. It feels a lot like an extended family with the drive and motivation to build a meaningful career and have a positive impact on everything we touch.
How did you get into the renewable energy industry/what attracted you to the industry?
In 2011 I applied and started a new position with AMRS (Service Stream) who was then installing residential solar for Origin. Still trying to establish myself in Australia, I wanted to build some professional experience and credentials more than pursuing a career in renewables intentionally. After this role ended, I applied and started at Clenergy after a friend of mine who was working there told me about a job opening. As I was evolving with Clenergy the pieces felt into place – this industry was the future, and it was nonnegotiable for the planet. More than a job it became a career and the challenges we face every day makes it all the more motivating to overcome. Working in renewables forced me to define my values and my purpose more than any other field would have.
In your view, why is this report important for the industry?
Every business course worth its fees will tell you that what you can’t measure you can’t improve. The report is a snapshot, a photo of a point in time. Now that we know where we are, how do we get where we want to go?
We have a plethora of complex challenges to solve in renewables and the more diverse experiences and opinions we get, the faster we will solve these challenges. We are also victims of our success; skill shortage is already an issue for an industry that has not been mainstream for that long. It is now time to tap into the massive potential of all facets of our population to recruit quality people looking to make a difference.
Did any of the results surprise you? If so, in what way?
The survey reveals 32% in the renewable energy industry was born overseas. At Clenergy Australia it is 80% of our workforce. We have a team of 30 people and collectively speak 16 different languages other than English. Our recruitment philosophy is to hire people with the right attitude first and everyone’s different attributes make our team richer.
What do you think is the biggest success for the industry from these results? (What are we already doing well/Success story)
The willingness from the CEC and its members to investigate the state of diversity in our industry is a great first step to consider our strengths and weaknesses. From there, we can implement targeted changes that will benefit all layers of renewables (individuals, communities, organisations). Despite the self-selection bias explained by the report, the uptake of the survey shows the enthusiasm and motivation to improve in this area.
What is the biggest area for improvement for the industry?
Opening our industry to people with disabilities as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. With such a wide range of roles available in many locations in Australia, there are opportunities for everyone to build a career in a value-based industry that welcomes diversity of thoughts.
What is your main takeaway from the report and how will you introduce it to your workplace?
I feel privileged to be part of such a dynamic industry that sees diversity as an opportunity and a benefit on so many levels. I plan to introduce our report to our management team in Australia and overseas so we can use it as a reflection and benchmark against our own numbers. We have increased our female representation from 4% to over 30% in Australia in less than 4 years and we are committed in maintaining an inclusive and diverse culture to better serve our industry.