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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Johnson

IWD 2022: Celebrating women in energy

The energy sector has traditionally been a male-dominated environment but thanks to efforts that are being made, including to nurture the take up of STEM subjects at a school level and to raise awareness for career opportunities, things are slowly starting to change.

In recent years, we have also seen more and more pioneering individuals coming through, who are challenging outdated stereotypes, disrupting the status quo and breaking through the barriers, inspiring others to follow and explore the possibilities.

As a woman who has worked in the industry for four years now and in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8th), I thought I’d share some of my personal insights here, along with the career journey I have been on.

Women in energy stats

According to the results of a recent survey carried out by IRENA (Renewable Energy: a Gender Perspective, 2019), women represent just 32% of the full-time employees in the renewable energy sector and only 28% in the technology sector.

A lot of this comes down to the fact that girls are less likely to study STEM subjects at school, which is a trend that then continues throughout university and into their careers, allowing the talent pool to shrink.

But progress is being made - albeit slowly - driven by a number of factors, including more awareness for the opportunities the industry presents, wider work being done to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in STEM and also the emergence of young challenger brands, such as like KrakenFlex and Octopus Energy, who are actively working to engage with more people.

Figure 1. Women in technology study conducted by PWC on behalf of Opinium.

Although the PWC report suggests that only 5% of leadership positions in technology companies are filled by females, across the Octopus Energy Group we are fortunate to have a number of inspiring women in senior leadership positions, including multiple CEOs and Directors.

These colleagues have been at the forefront of influencing energy policy, market reforms and accelerating the energy transition and it is a privilege to be part of a company that empowers women to excel.

My passion for STEM

As for myself, I’ve always been passionate about fighting the climate crisis and before joining KrakenFlex I completed a Masters at Durham University and an Undergraduate degree in Physical Geography at the University of Bristol.

A key part of my masters research involved investigating the main drivers of the retreat of the Greenland ice sheet. This included building a model that could simulate the retreat rate of the ice sheet when forced by rising sea level, increasing ocean temperature and increasing atmospheric temperature under different greenhouse gas scenarios.

Since the energy sector is responsible for a huge proportion of carbon emissions, it was a sector that naturally interested me. I wanted to work for a company that was making a positive difference and that’s how I ended up at KrakenFlex (then known as Upside Energy).

I was really excited by the company’s intelligent software, which can control devices to help make smarter use of energy assets, such as batteries, electrical vehicles and heat pumps, matching their consumption or generation with greener and cheaper electricity, overall enabling a cleaner energy system.

Rising through the ranks

I joined the team back in 2018 as a commercial analyst, when the company was one third of the size it is today. I was responsible for bidding a portfolio of assets into grid markets and also modelling the revenue stack for batteries, including the financial benefits and also carbon saving.

Over time my role has developed and I am now Chief of Staff. My core focus is on understanding the current state of the energy market and key regulatory / industry developments, to inform the product and strategic vision of the company. This involves working closely with the leadership team on our commercial offering, to help accelerate the growth of the company.

It’s been amazing to be part of such a dynamic team and to see our offering develop over the years, alongside all the innovation and positive change going on in the wider industry. I really enjoy working alongside our customers, helping them to understand the highly complex world of energy markets and to see projects come to fruition. Another career highlight for me has been being named Young Energy Professional of the Year last year - a huge and unexpected honour.

Challenges and opportunities

The energy industry as a whole is a very exciting space to be right now because it is leading the way to a more sustainable planet. The energy transition requires huge efforts to be made by people across the globe and this means there are endless opportunities to get involved and make a difference, from software engineers to data scientists, commercial roles to finance related positions.

Working at KrakenFlex and alongside Octopus at the heart of the energy transition, is a very fast-paced environment to be in. This continuously offers opportunities to work on new projects and get exposure to other areas of the business, which keeps it really interesting.

I feel that this positive working environment has given me the perfect foundations to build a career in a fascinating industry, and at a critical time for the planet.

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