Article Written by Miriam Aczel, Leaders in Energy
On September 22, 2016, the Council on Women in Energy & Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) partnered with Leaders in Energy and the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) to host a reception at the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC). The event brought together leaders and professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds in the energy and sustainability industry. Funds raised from this event are to be used for scholarships to help women interested in pursuing studies in the energy and environmental fields. I had the pleasure of speaking with three inspiring women, who shared with me their career paths and motivations, the challenges in the environmental and energy sector, and the role of these organizations in professional development. Here is what AEE’s Rajvant Nijjhar had to say.
Director, Independent Verifiers of Energy Efficiency Savings (IVEES)
London, United Kingdom
Q. How did you get involved with AEE, and what were some of the challenges you faced?
RN. Four years ago, I was vice president [of the United Kingdom Association of Energy Engineers – UKAEE], but the group never gained momentum, and we struggled in setting up meetings. A few years ago, I took over the role of president of the UKAEE branch, and while we’re still ironing out some of the details, we’ve doubled in size and now have 13 committee members and 650 members. When I first started, I was the only female director, but now, 3/5 of our directors are female.
Q. What does membership entail?
RN. We have a very diverse body of members, with all ages and levels of experience. Basically, if you have enthusiasm, then come and join me! It’s very different from the dynamics of previous years, where it was mostly male members, ages 40 +.
Q. What is the main mission of UKAEE, and what are your goals?
RN. Right now, our main focus is getting functionality. My goal is to transition so that if I happen to win the lottery, someone else could take over, and we would still have functionality. We’ve adopted the same mission as AEE and have aligned our interests with AEE, and we hope to gain and retain membership, and to be an active chapter.
The chapter is really only a few years old, and our aim is to have a functioning committee and plan the events we need to have. After obtaining a functioning committee, our next goal is to write a strategy document.
Q. What are some of the events you’ve held, and how did you decide on these events?
RN. Last year, we hosted a few events driven by what is going on in the EU because we felt there are gaps with events held by other ‘peers’, or similar groups. These ‘gap events’, such as the one on heat metering or transport energy audits, for example, were coming out of EU legislation.
The strategy for deciding what events to host involves first conducting member surveys to identify interests and gaps in events hosted by other similar groups, and then decide based on our survey results what events to host. For example, one of our next goals resulting from member surveys is to develop a guide on the ISO 50001, the energy management standards, as we feel those are the most important guidelines to develop.
The most important aspect for attracting members is the events we host. While membership is free, the events are important to sustain the chapter. One of our upcoming events is a tour of a CHP plant.