#WomenInWind series | August 2020

#WomenInWind series | August 2020

The industry stands as a beacon in forging equality and promotes the role of women in the sector. We invited some of our industry leaders to share their views and thoughts with us, during this Women’s Month.

A special thanks to Katherine Persson, Mamoso May, Hlengiwe Radebe and Wendy Parsons for their input.
Katherine Persson, Managing Director of Windlab, East Africa speaks on the role of Women in the Energy Sector:
As a woman, why is it important to you to make a contribution to your community/sector?
“I believe that everyone should aspire to make a contribution towards a future, in their own way.  But as a woman, I think it’s especially important for the next generation of young women and men to see the positive contribution that women make in business and society.”
Why do you think the renewable energy sector is a good career option for women?
“There are so many exciting opportunities in the rapidly growing renewable energy industry, and they vary much more than you might think.  Many people associate renewable energy with engineering, but our industry needs finance experts, environmentalists and social scientists, communications and marketing professionals, tax and legal advisers.  The list is very long!  Go out and find your space and be part of the revolution.”
Considering COVID-19, how do you feel women play a role within the ‘new normal’?
“In the ‘new normal’ our society and workplaces need resilience, compassion and connection.  I believe that these traits are often displayed in women leaders.”
What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?
“Make connections and don’t be afraid to ask for support or advice from your network.  Find a mentor and be a mentor!  Pass on your support and advice to others.”

Mamoso May, General Manager/CEO of Dorper Wind Farm shares some important advice for women looking to enter the Renewable Energy Sector:
 
What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?
“It is important for those seeking a career in renewable energy – that they understand that the industry is bigger than just the large IPPs.
Our value chains are long – and encapsulate many industries from social development to technical suppliers; and everything in between.
There are also a lot of new, exciting players, in the off-grid solutions space and smaller industrial solutions.
I believe that sometimes narrow their options too soon; without fully grasping the full web of opportunities that could exist between them and their ultimate goals.
My ultimate advice is then – don’t be self-limiting in the pursuit of your goals.”
As a woman, why is it important to you to make a contribution to your community/sector?
The provision of and access to electricity is critical for economic progress throughout the world.  Given the global environmental and climate crisis – the transition to renewable energy is even more urgent.
For me, as a woman, I believe in the value that we create for our staff and community – through our engagement and initiatives.  I believe that, as a  woman, it is imperative to “pay it forward” – and pave the way for others. The current economic paradigm reinforces the need for change, for a more sustainable approach to business.  I believe that women are ideally suited to be at the forefront of these conversations.
Why do you think the renewable energy sector is a good career option for women?
Renewable energy is a growing industry in South Africa and Africa – as such there will be an increased demand for labour as the industry grows. This presents a great opportunity for women to take up spaces in numerous roles within the industry – from development to technical and even operations management.
Considering COVID-19, how do you feel women play a role within the ‘new normal’?
“The inequality that women have to deal with on a daily basis has been highlighted through this period – the caretaker roles that women play have been compounded as home-schooling and working from home became realities; while there has been increased pressure to perform at work (for those that managed to retain their jobs) under different and difficult conditions.”
However, despite the difficulties, I believe women are resilient – and it’s this resilience that will be needed in the rebuilding period.  Our economy needs to be restructured – considering all of these lessons learnt in this COVID19 period – and women, with our strength and ability to become influential, are up to the task.”
 
Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director at Globeleq highlights the important role women play within society, considering the COVID-19 pandemic:
Considering COVID-19, how do you feel women play a role within the ‘new normal’?
“The reality of COVID is that more women have lost their income and remain affected largely because they are usually the primary caregivers. The new normal presents some serious challenges and opportunities.
The ability to work from home has been a double edged sword as it offers women opportunity to be with their children more,  yet places the burden of care on the very people whose livelihood is threatened by the pandemic the most.”
As a woman, why is it important to you to make a contribution to your community/sector?
“It is important to invest in the sustainability and livelihoods of our communities because they are the ultimate consumers of the energy we generate in our plants. We also try to bring as many women as we can manage to get to ensure that families, mostly ran by women, are assisted with an opportunity for sustainable livelihood.”
Why do you think the renewable energy sector is a good career option for women?
“The RE sector is new, and growing industry that presents numerous opportunities for women in various fields. I believe it offers women equal opportunities in fields that had been dominated by men for a long time.”
What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?
“They must take the opportunities that present themselves and reach out to other women in the industry for support and guidance where needed.”
 
Lastly, Wendy Parsons, CEO at Kouga Wind Farm, sums up why she feels the Renewable Energy sector is a good career option for women:
Why do you think the renewable energy sector is a good career option for women?
“ There’s no better time to be a woman in the workplace than right now and renewable energy is a relatively new industry to SA so the playing field is relatively level. The industry also straddles so many different disciplines, it’s a great balance between the nurturing side of environmental and social upliftment, and the commercial side of achieving technical and financial targets.”
As a woman, why is it important to you to make a contribution to your community/sector?
“I grew up in the Kouga area – I want to see the area prosper and I have a responsibility to reciprocate.”
What advice would you give to young women wanting to enter your industry?
“Hard work always pays off and there is seldom much traffic when you travel the ‘extra mile’”.
 

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