It has been almost 25 years, that as a young women just having graduated from college, I started working in the energy sector. I was an enthusiastic marketing graduate who was given a unique opportunity at the time to lead a communication department in a large engineering company, promoting new energy efficient technologies. It was a subject area that I quickly became passionate about and ever since then there was no turning back!
I am now the Managing Director of Revelle Group, a consulting company specialising in sustainable energy. I am enthusiastic to witness how over the years sustainable energy has gained significant importance for both developed and developing countries and how the mind set of society has changed so as to accept and embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency as an alternative energy solution. However, despite all the progress made in the acceptance of sustainable energy, one issue remains stagnant and that is the role of women in the energy sector.
Back in the early 1990’s, the energy sector was a male dominated sector in developing and emerging economies but also in the more progressive EU. This gender imbalance was something I learnt to work with but not one that I necessarily liked. I was always hoping for change but it seemed slow to come. I was inspired by the various organisations that were taking up the subject of women and energy and I somehow wanted to be part of this advocacy for change. After all, having worked for so long in the energy sector, I knew first hand of the important role that women could play.
The opportunity knocked on my door earlier this year when I was approached by a true role model of a woman in the energy sector and who I have had the privilege to know and work with over the last 15 years – Christine Lins. She proposed her idea to set-up a non-profit organisation with international reach that would empower women working in the energy sector. What made this idea more appealing to me is that this organisation would address both women in developing but also industrialised countries and it would include and advocate for the participation of men. Yes, men, the gender that has capitalised the energy sector, would now serve as a catalyst to bridge the gender gap!
Several months later and with the participation of two additional prominent ladies in the energy sector, Irene Giner-Reichl and Barbara Fischer-Aupperle, the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) was born and then officially launched at the Vienna Energy Forum.
It has been a busy year! We have launched our new website, participated in various international energy events and set-up the GWNET Advisory Council. We have the honour to have as members in the Advisory Council some of the most prominent figures, both women and men in the sustainable energy sector. We are also launching our new mentoring programme that will begin in March 2018. Most importantly however is that our membership list is getting longer with women and men from all over the world interested in empowering women to seek careers and leadership positions in the energy sector!
Emily Koulouvaris, Managing Director @Revelle Group