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Harnessing the Energy Industry’s Shifting Workforce for Greater Diversity

AEE’s Council of Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership division recently participated in Mediaplanet USA’s Women in Energy campaign where we united with like-minded thought leaders and associations to shed light on the exciting and impactful opportunities available to women in the field. With 50% of the workforce retiring in the next 5-7 years, it’s crucial to highlighting the best practices for women to enter and excel in this rewarding industry.

The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on June 8th, 2018 and is published online and the article is also listed below.

Harnessing the Energy Industry’s Shifting Workforce for Greater Diversity

More than fifty percent of the energy workforce was eligible to retire in 2015, resulting in an ongoing phenomenon known as “the great crew change.” Innovation in the sector generates greater demand for talent as new energy markets and technology drive employment. Companies are addressing this talent gap by investing in initiatives to recruit and develop employees that have the technical, managerial and leadership skills for this evolving sector. One initiative is a mentoring program to support young professionals (male and female) to enter, grow and advance in the industry. Mentors are industry-based, experienced professionals that are screened and partnered with a mentee. Mentees may be student interns, recent graduates, early stage employees and mid-level employees who are interested in advancing in the industry.

Boosting women through mentorship

The Department of Energy’s 2017 US Energy and Employment Report found the traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors employ approximately 6.4 million Americans. Yet women in these sectors range from just 22 to 34 percent, compared to 47 percent of the overall economy’s workforce. Companies and energy industry associations are implementing mentoring programs to increase diversity and specifically bring more women into the industry.

The Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership, through its affiliation with the Association of Energy Engineers, offers a mentoring program to support women in their career development in energy efficiency, renewable energy, utility and energy technology fields. Both mentors and mentees apply by filling out the application listed on the Council’s website. Tahseena Kahn, the mentoring program chair, pairs the mentee with the right mentor. The mentor-mentee pair then decides the best means of communication for them, be that in person meetings, teleconference, Skype or beyond. Some mentors and mentees live outside of the United States and support someone in another part of the world.

One mentee noted, “My mentor is a perfect match for me. She works in the same industry, so we relate very well. My mentor truly cares for my success and gives great and useful guidance.” Through the guidance of their mentors, mentees have found the right job, improved their skills for career advancement, gone back to school for advanced degrees and attended management training programs.

The power of sponsorship

Beyond mentoring programs, there are informal sponsors that can help with career development and advancement. These are superiors and peers within an employer or outside (trade allies, association members, etc.) that provide guidance and honest feedback. This support may be limited to a specific life event, such as making a decision for a job change, or it may span years. A sponsor is a business associate with whom one has a natural affinity and comfort level that has knowledge of your capabilities and performance. A sponsor not only provides encouragement, but she (or he) is a trusted advisor that can help you understand the corporate culture and the skills required to be successful in the company.

As the majority of industry management are men, these sponsors are often men who recognize the inequity of the gender gap in the sector and truly care about the importance of the advancement of women to the evolution of the industry. Finding a sponsor starts by taking the initiative to ask for guidance and support. Building that relationship requires listening to feedback and allowing the sponsor to challenge you. Maintaining sponsors requires follow through, appreciation and respect.

The energy industry is in the midst of a significant workforce change, yet navigating a career in energy can still be challenging. Having both mentors and sponsors will help increase career opportunities, develop and hone skillsets, and build valuable relationships for a season or a lifetime.

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eSai Awarded SBA’s 2018 Maryland Woman Owned Business of the Year Award

The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded eSai, LLC the 2018 Maryland Woman Owned Business of the Year Award.

The selection for this award was based on several criteria, including: evidence of success as measured by sales and profits; innovativeness of product or service; response to adversity; demonstrated potential necessary for long-term business success and economic growth.

Nandini Mouli, Ph.D., President, Founder & CEO of eSai Consulting, participated in a small award celebration at the SBA office with Maryland Senator, Ben Cardin and Congressman John Sarbanes. Nandini sits on the CWEEL Board as the Scholarship & Awards Committee Chair.

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Nandini will be recognized on Thursday, June 7th at the 34th Annual Maryland Small Business Week Awards Luncheon at Martin’s West in Woodlawn, MD.For tickets or more information, visit the event website at www.mdsbwawards.org

CWEEL Event – 4th Energy Extravaganza with AEE Chapters

On February 23rd, the Council of Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) had another great event at the University of Maryland,  College Park as part of the 4th Energy Extravaganza which AEE-Baltimore, AEE-National Capital Chapter and Leaders In Energy had co-organized.

The following were our panelists:
Rosa Cassidy – Deputy Director, Lockheed Martin
Kathy MaGruder – Executive Director, Maryland Clean Energy Center
Laurie Vodreuil – CEO, Mosaic Power

Janine Finnell did the opening remarks for CWEEL and Nandini Mouli moderated the panel.  The three panelists responded to 6 questions related to career, women in energy working together to advance “common good” in the industry and how to be of support to each other.  We selected the panelists because they are not only trailblazers in the cleantech world but also very creative individuals and public in their causes for women’s progress.  For showing their personal side, Rosa Cassidy was asked to read out-loud a poem from her book, “Mi vid en poemas y cuentos”  and Kathy and Laurie shared their experiences with painting landscapes and rocks.   Their life and career stories touched many people in the audience and stuck a nice chord.  Many mentioned that they were (are) motivated about their job, career and future in general in the clean energy world.

Eastern Africa CWEEL Chapter Site Training on Grid Tie PV Installation

CWEELEA_JanTripThe CWEEL-Eastern Africa falls under the Association of Energy Professional in Eastern Africa (AEPEA) which is a professional body for all professionals working in the energy sector. It is registered in Kenya and accredited as chapter of the AEE since 2014. It is the second local chapter of the AEE in Africa after the South African chapter.

One of AEPEA’s objectives in Kenya is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, conservation and management in accordance to the existing standards, policy, legal and regulatory framework and uphold the highest standards of professionalism in the Energy sector. For one to be a part of the CWEEL-EA network, one has to join the AEPEA membership as all AEPEA Members are automatically CWEEL-EA Members.

Grid tie systems are becoming increasingly popular among businesses in Kenya. As electricity tariffs continue to increase, many public and private facilities are turning to solar PV systems to reduce their operational costs and realize some savings. Kenya sits on the equator and is fortunate to receive an insolation of 4-6 kWh/m2, with an average of 5-7 peak sunshine hours in most areas. CWEEL-EA organized a site training on grid tie solar PV installation basics at Penta Flowers located in Thika off Gatanga road on 20th January 2018. The farm has been in operation for the last 25 years and has 40 hectares under flowers. From a past energy audit, 80% of their power requirements come from cold storage and water pumping. A captive power solar PV system without storage was installed at the site in mid-2017, consisting of 134kWp roof mount and 66kWp ground mount installations (total of 200kWp), to offset approximately 40% of their energy consumption from the Kenya grid.

The trip attracted 41 participants, both women and men, drawn from different professions which included engineers, energy auditors, entrepreneurs, public sector staff, academia, environmentalists, private sector practitioners, EPCs and energy lawyers, all with a passion for renewable energy and environment. The operations manager at the farm was at hand to take the participants through the history of the farm, their power requirements, why they chose solar power and how they financed their system. The project engineer explained how they collected data for the system sizing, factors to consider when designing a grid tie system, operations and maintenance. Participants were also advised on challenges faced when designing and maintaining such systems, environmental and safety regulations. The visit was quite informative and well received, it generated a lot of conversation on the opportunity for energy efficiency and installation of captive power systems for the agricultural sector in Kenya. This is because almost all agricultural facilities prefer to use their land for food, vegetable or flower production but have adequate rooftops for similar installations.
For more information contact the CWEEL-EA Liaison Caroline Makenzi on +254720399764 or on email nyawiracm@gmail.com / info@aepea.co.ke

Top 10 Advice on Career Development – Part 1

Written by: Laurie Wiegand-Jackson, President, Utility Advantage and Co-Chair, CWEEL Board

  1. Be Willing to Say Yes – Volunteer. Especially for those of you who are earlier in your careers, don’t be afraid of raising your hand to take an assignment that interests you or to go for a new position. You will benefit:
  • by increasing your own knowledge and experience;
  • from the satisfaction and confidence that comes from achieving a new goal;
  • and if you for some reason fail at the objective or aren’t chosen, you will also learn from that experience

ALL EXPERIENCE IS VALUABLE TO YOUR FUTURE

  1. Handling Disappointment – Please Persevere! We all have setbacks.  Something doesn’t go the way you want – could be a position that you don’t get, a co-worker or boss that is difficult to work with, a project that doesn’t get approved.   
    • Be assured that it is a temporary situation – this too shall pass.
    • Don’t listen to the naysayers – anyone with negative energy/ put downs is not helping you to grow.
    • Do listen to your mentor or trusted advisor who will provide positive, encouraging and realistic feedback (more on mentors later)…

Early in my career I worked diligently and excitedly for months on a special project.  Having never completed this type of project before, I was on a huge self-learning curve.  From market analysis to planning, and from pipeline system design through economic analysis.  Once my report was completed, I was asked to be present for the utility’s Board of Director’s meeting at which it was discussed and ultimately the Board decided not to proceed with the expansion.  I was disappointed to say the least.  Some peers in the company looked at all that work as a “waste of time”.  But it taught me valuable lessons and I developed skills in market assessments and analysis that helped me in future positions and as an entrepreneur.   As a result of the exposure with the Senior VP and Board, it opened up the door to other opportunities at the company including taking on a leadership role at the utility’s retail affiliate start up and more importantly I found an unexpected passion in “start-ups”.

  1. Be Willing to Make a Choice & Take a Risk – If you don’t take a chance on something then you limit your career development options. Wanting to “stay safe” is the number one barrier to success.  You cannot succeed if you don’t even try.

I was at the stage in my career where I wanted to move from an engineering sales position into management.  There was an opening for manager of energy conservation.  I had no specific energy efficiency or conservation experience and had only minimal supervisory experience with a small group in the engineering department several years earlier.  Many in the company said it was a “dead end” job and the utility only supported energy conservation because of regulatory mandates.  I applied for the position as a means to an end – to gain management experience managing a multi-million-dollar program with associated staff and vendors.  I was selected and after one year it led to a trajectory into other management positions both within and beyond that company.  It also expanded my knowledge base into the area of Energy Efficiency which opened other opportunities for me.  It also introduced me to trade organizations, like the Association of Energy Engineers, which provided awesome networking and volunteer opportunities.

Tips 4-10 will be posted throughout the remainder of 2018 – check back for more!

CWEEL Board Member Joins the City of Santa Monica’s Building Efficiency Working Group

Kahn, TahseenaTahseena Kahn, head of the Mentoring Program for CWEEL, became a member of  the City of Santa Monica’s Building Efficiency Technical Working Group to draft a policy to reduce energy use in existing buildings. Santa Monica became the first city in the world to enact a Zero Net Energy requirement for new homes in 2017 and hopes to cut carbon emissions from buildings in half by 2030.  This group will:

  • Analyze the drivers of energy use in existing buildings and the opportunities to improve energy efficiency.
  • Evaluate existing building policy and make recommendations for future policy.
  • Identify supplementary resources that the city can develop to aid building owners and tenants in achieving deep carbon reductions.
  • Draft a policy to reduce energy use in existing Santa Monica buildings

Tahseena has also joined an Industry Advisory Council for the Chancellor of California Community Colleges to develop a statewide training program in Energy Analytics and Auditing.

CWEEL France Chapter Now Established

Congratulations to the newest CWEEL Chapter in France! They held their first meeting in January 2018.

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CWEEL Jordan 10th Meeting Update!

CWEELJordan10thMeetingOn Saturday Oct 14, 2017, CWEEL Jordan held its 10th meeting for 5 hours of training on the Technical and Economic Aspects of Renewable Energy Medium Scale Projects.

The meeting started with a brief introduction from Eng. Suhair AlMhairat, CEM®, REP™, CSDP® about the CWEEL Jordan activities and she introduced the presenter.

The training was facilitated by the Team Leader of Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program”REEEII-TA” Mr. Emil Alasis as part of the programme CSR activities. 38 junior and mid-level professionals were trained on the following topics:

  1. Feasibility Study for Medium Scale PV Projects:
    • Net Metering
    • Wheeling
    • PV system Components
    • CAPEX
    • OPEX
    • NPV, IRR
    • SPB
  2. PV projects components, installation and operation.

The training was rich in content with a high level of interaction with the participants. Attendance certificates were distributed at the end of the event.

It’s worth mentioning that Mr. Alasis and besides his current work as a Team Leader of the  REEEII-TA EU program led by GFA, he is an international RE expert with more than 35 years of experience in this field.

CWEEL Jordan Meeting on Water Efficiency

CWEELJordan9thCWEEL Jordan held its 9th event of 2017 on Tuesday August 15th with two hour training in water efficiency and energy management. The meeting started with a brief introduction from Eng. Suhair AlMhairat, CEM®, REP™, CSDP® about the CWEEL Jordan activities. The training was conducted by Eng Nisreen AlHussein, CWEP®, CEM®, CMVP, EEP.

She gave an awareness presentation about the Certified Water Efficiency Professional (CWEP®) training course. In addition, the main topics of the course were displayed to the participants and discussed. The training was rich in content with a high level of interaction with the participants. Attendance certificates were distributed at the end of the event.

CWEEL Keynote Speaker: Kim Greene, Executive VP & COO for Southern Company

Kim_Greene_AR_headshotJoin us at the 40th World Energy Engineering Congress for AEE’s Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) free networking breakfast on Thursday, September 28th from 7:30-9:00am Featured speaker is Kim Greene, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for Southern Company.

All in attendance will be eligible to win an Echo Dot!