The energy sector must embrace diversity if it's to achieve the transition away from oil and gas, according to the CEO of Hitachi Energy UK & Ireland.
Speaking at Energy Futures Lab’s first Women in Energy event, Laura Fleming said that the successful transformation of the industry requires it to value different points of view and to grow in a way that better reflects society.
“We cannot do this with the current number of people who are working in the industry. We really see a huge opportunity to recruit more people into the industry, but also to make sure that the people we recruit come from all different aspects of society. At the end of the day, it is diversity of thought and minds that creates innovation.”
Laura was appointed CEO of Hitachi Energy UK & Ireland last year having spent over ten years at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy where she held various senior roles including Global Business Development Director for Hydrogen and Hybrid Systems and Head of Wind Farm Solutions for North Europe and the Middle East.
Believe in yourself and don’t assume that the way that you think is the way that everyone else thinks. Laura Fleming CEO, Hitachi Energy UK & Ireland
Reflecting on her career to date, she said the sector’s lack of diversity can sometimes make it difficult for women to find peers and feel supported when expressing their views, and revealed how she felt like a 'fish out of water' when attending a conference in the early days of her new role:
“Honestly, when I was sat there the first day, I thought I had made a huge mistake taking this role and moving into this part of the industry,” she said. “I kind of had a talk with myself and said the reason why my boss hired me was because I can bring a different point of view and so I shouldn’t shy away from sharing that point of view.”
“I think as people, and particularly as women, we like to assimilate with the people around us. And that’s something I need to remind myself, to not do that.”
Asked about her advice for women entering careers in energy, she spoke about the importance of finding a mentor or coach, asking for help when you need it, and discovering your ‘superpower’. “Believe in yourself and don’t assume that the way that you think is the way that everyone else thinks,” she said.
During the event, which was chaired by MSc Sustainable Energy Futures student Naa Okailey Ayitey, Laura also highlighted the value of routine in daily life and the importance of taking time away from work to unwind and pursue other interests: “You have to be mindful that time for you as a human being is not infinite, so treat it with caution”.
Laura was the first guest in a new series which aims to turn the spotlight on the work of women in all areas of the energy sector and explore some of the challenges they face. To find out about future events in the series, join the Energy Futures Lab mailing list here.
Watch the Women in Energy event with Laura Fleming in full below.
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