Fleur Yaxley, Managing Director of BayWa r.e. Projects Australia is a true industry leader who champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. With over 20 years’ engineering experience in major contracting transactions, Fleur's expertise ranges from development and financing through to construction management and operations.
Tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally?
For 25+ years I’ve had the privilege of working at the forefront of the renewable energy transition, an incredible ride with ups and downs. A personal drive to protect our planet from climate change and a fundamental belief in the renewables industry and its good people sustains me.
I grew up in Tasmania and travelled the world learning about renewables. I now lead BayWa r.e. Projects Australia. I’m a married mother of two children aged 7 and 10.
But I’m not Super Woman, nor do I advocate for women to “have it all” by overloading themselves with caring and domestic roles alongside a career. My husband and I work together to manage domestic and caring responsibilities with work.
I have, I’ll say fond, memories of expressing milk at work and having my babies delivered to the office by my husband for breastfeeding lunch breaks.
Where do you work and what do you do?
I am Managing Director of BayWa r.e. Projects Australia and responsible for the company’s expansion and operation in Australia. My role allows me to help thrive a fast-growing diverse and dedicated team of women and men who are striving for values greater than profits.
More widely, I have also delivered over 4GW of innovative renewable and storage solutions throughout APAC into the Middle East, the Americas and Europe, giving me valuable insights into diverse cultures and legislative environments.
BayWa r.e. is a German company with a German name that is a bit tricky to say. It’s pronounced: Buy-var R.E. The ‘r.e.’ stands for renewable energy and it also appears in our ethos, ‘re-think energy’. And that’s what we are doing. We develop, construct and operate wind, energy storage, solar and hydrogen assets.
BayWa r.e. Australia’s gender equality markers score well above the industry norm. We take action to foster diversity and equality. Last year we launched a generous new inclusive parental leave benefit, flexible working arrangements and programs to seek and grow female talent among other initiatives.
We are one of the very few female-led companies in Australia.
What have been the biggest challenges for you as a woman working in a male dominated industry?
Men. And women. Centuries of submissive coding. It’s women who wait to be asked; to dance, to dinner, to marry … We need to reprogram, and we are.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced, and Australian women face in general, is being unsafe, both physically and psychologically at work. When culture is supported by policy, usually done best in large companies, it creates safety. Culture comes from the top.
In the renewables industry much of the culture remains misogynistic, especially in smaller teams, with aggressive domineering male personalities indulged and cheered after rising through the ranks of a male-dominated industry. It’s high time for us to #BreakTheBias.
What advice do you have for women looking to enter the clean energy sector?
Be your authentic self – it shines the brightest.
That is my one big piece of advice to women. Your power comes from being authentically you.
I am an emotional person, not an unstable person. I value empathy as it promotes understanding. It’s a strength. It makes for a better leader. It helps me make good decisions and it fuels me. I’m in touch with my femininity. It’s powerful.
Contribute diverse views and solve problems differently. Our planet needs all the new energy and ideas we can muster.
By having more women at the top in our industry we effect the change we need - create safe, inclusive and unbiased places in which diversity can thrive.
We need to find a volume above where our voices are now. The inspirational Grace Tame is exploring those boundaries right now like so many “loud”, “feisty”, “rude” women before her. She is taking us forward.
At BayWa r.e. Projects Australia we are working hard to understand why we get so few female job applicants. When I interview for jobs, men almost never fail to exaggerate their capacity and experience. Too many women I interview undersell themselves and their achievements, they tell me what they haven’t done or they don’t even apply.
I encourage women to always ask “How many women are there in the executive team, and what are their roles.” and “How many women are on the board.”
If there aren’t powerful women in the executive and on the board then that company does not support diversity or women.
It’s that simple, there is no excuse.