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Women in Renewables: Bridget Ryan

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Bridget Ryan, Policy and Government Lead at global energy-tech company GreenSync, was awarded the 2020 Women in Renewables Your Leadership Voice: Women in Focus grant. We asked Bridget to share a bit more about herself and her experience in the renewable energy industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally?
  • Personally – I was born and raised in Canberra, educated in the public-school system and for the first 8 years of my life lived in what would now be called a ‘sustainable housing community’. I now live in the people’s republic (Brunswick), with my lovely wife Kym and our cat Koko-dashi. You might see me running around princes park, or in the home-work-home dash cycling (always with lights), riding my 125cc scooter, in a sheba or occasionally in a flexi-car. I haven’t owned a car for 10 years. Even with EVs, I’d probably prefer a car share scheme with EVs than owning my own (hint! Flexicar/Hertz)
  • Professionally – I’ve been in the energy sector in some form since I entered the workforce back in 2002. I think I’m a pretty passionate but also calm person to work with. I enjoy being part of a team and knowing I’m contributing to something really important. I’m motivated by my work and the work of GreenSync as I think we have a key role to play in the energy transition.
What attracted you to the renewable energy industry and what motivated you to apply for the Women in Renewables scholarship?
  • For a very long time I’ve been concerned about climate change. Being able to work in the renewable energy sector and address that concern by practical action every day is an ongoing source of motivation. I’ve had good fortune to work on/for renewable energy acceleration since 2008 with VECCI, Pacific Hydro, ARENA, the CEC and now GreenSync.
  • I have been a long-time supporter of the Clean Energy Council’s Women in Renewables initiative and diversity programs more generally. I think the Your Leadership Voice program is pretty unique – the focus on negotiation skills as well as communication and presentation skills is different to other courses that I’ve looked at and it’s delivered in an intensive format which I like.
How will the Women in Renewables scholarship help enhance your career and allow you to achieve your personal and professional goals?
  • Through the Women in Renewables scholarship, I am aiming (hoping) to become (more) comfortable, confident and remaining authentic while balancing client relations, public relations and politics. I want to learn how I can speak truth to power, craft stories into my presentations and comments, frame questions and facilitate engaging conversations and discussions.
  • I have a fairly unique perspective on the role and capacity of utility and small-scale segments of the clean energy industry in enabling a successful energy transition here in Australia, and internationally.
  • I hope that this program supports me to build and grow in and with GreenSync as we take on local and international projects and progress our product roadmap.
What do you think would encourage more women to enter the clean energy sector?
  • Seriously poor behaviour should not be tolerated, swept under carpets or condoned by casual ignorance.
  • Job security – which can be challenging in our boom-bust policy / incentive cycles.
  • Taking a punt on someone with great interest, then enabling them to access career support, mentors and professional development – there are many ways to do this – across all types of roles.
  • Space being made for women to grow and to lead – at all levels of an organisation.
  • Flexible working arrangements – whether you have kids or not, we all have busy lives.
  • Recognition of effort in rewards, role and promotion pathways.
  • More women CEOs and at least 50% representation in our Boards, across the sector.
What have been the biggest challenges for you as a woman working in a male-dominated industry?
  • Early on I’d say a big challenge – in the energy sector more broadly – was working for women who acted like men, who’d had to be bullies to get respect and to be ‘blokey’ to fit in. I’m lucky in that I’ve had more great women and men as my managers than not great.
  • In general, the biggest challenges are assumptions and power dynamics. They are hard to see, but they influence behaviour and decision-making a lot. Where power-dynamics come into play makes it hard to feel empowered to call something or someone out. That’s starting to change, but there is still a long way to go.
  • While things have improved over my career, there is still limited diversity represented in the industry and that can be challenging. Even today I find going into an industry networking event of hundreds of people is intimidating. While there are women there (now), there is still a forest of suits and conversations at the 6” mark…this is compounded by the fact that I’m 5”3 and get around in flat shoes.