Women with energy

As a relatively new and progressive sector, the renewable energy space has seen more and more women rising through the ranks and taking on senior roles in the previously male-dominated energy industry.

Kouga Wind Farm is evidence of this evolution, with five of its seven board members being female, which is unheard of in most medium to large companies in South Africa.

Forging a new path with new technologies can be challenging, but the ‘green’ aspect of renewable energy is rewarding, owing to its responsible, future-focused approach to resource management.

“In my experience, the women who work in this industry are no-nonsense types who genuinely care about the development of the industry, the country and other women – which could, in turn, be attracting more women to the industry,” says Kouga Wind Farm CEO Wendy Parsons.

Combining energy with varied corporate experience, Parsons and other senior women in wind have helped to steer the business and navigate its growing pains over the past five years.

Here is what some of them had to say about their personal highlights and challenges of working in the renewable energy sector:

“Every day brings a new challenge, and every person in the industry is passionate about Renewables. I’ve learnt that good communication skills and a genuine desire for constant improvement are more important attributes than technical capability, and that leading an organisation is the toughest yet most rewarding role ever!”

Wendy Parsons
Kouga Wind Farm

Chinua Achebe wrote: “The impatient idealist says: ‘Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.’ But such a place does not exist. We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace.” I reckon this applies to wind power (as much as it applies to me). No matter the technology, you just have to go at her pace!

Lebohang Mpumlwana
Head: Legal, Risk and Compliance
Hulisani Limited

“As an experienced person in financial services accounting and reporting, having to apply myself and be able to transfer my skill to another sector has been an exciting, and I look forward to learning and growing in the renewable energy industry, not just from the expertise point of view but learning about the industry in general, and its role in our society and economy.”

Nombali Sihlobo
Financial Manager
Hulisani Limited

“I was involved in the energy sector during the mid-2000s and found it very frustrating to work in an industry where things moved very slowly, if at all. After a few years of exploring other sectors, I returned just in time for the first round of the IPPs in 2012 and have never regretted this decision. It is especially motivating to know that the impact of these renewable energy projects is spread across the country in new communities, since these plants are situated in areas which did not traditionally participate in energy generation.”

Marisa Bester
Portfolio Manager: Infrastructure Investments
STANLIB Asset Management
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