GWNET brings you the 7th instalment of the “Meet the Women in the Energy Transition” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of GWNET’s 3/2020 Mentoring Programme. This mentoring programme is made up of 26 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from over 20 countries. Meet GWNET mentee, Missree Satish Vachhani, a product marketing and business development professional working at Schneider Electric in India.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I grew up in India where access to electricity is a privilege. After studying electrical engineering and working in an electric utility, I wanted to develop a holistic understanding of the energy sector from an international perspective. That lead me to pursue an MBA in Energy Management from Technische Universität Berlin.
Studying and working at one of the global centers of energy innovation greatly refined and expanded my knowledge of global energy markets and policies. Currently, I work as a product marketing and business development professional at Schneider Electric. I assist clients in framing energy sustainability strategies through digitization. I love to see the benefits that clients derive through the adoption of systems and practices that optimize their energy consumption and lower emissions.
I am a voracious reader, a novice writer and a yoga enthusiast.
2) What were your goals when you started working in sustainable energy? Have these evolved?
My purpose has always been to create a positive impact in the world. The means of achieving this has evolved over the years. While my work involved a more technical perspective in the initial phase of my career, I now understand the nuances of energy sustainability. I am presently working on establishing systems that leverage digital transformation to promote energy sustainability as a business metric.
Parallelly, I aim to master how sustainable development goals can be embedded in corporate strategies. I also wish to explore and promote the co-benefits of energy sustainability on social equity, financial systems and wellbeing. As I keep advancing in my career, I am sure that my goals will continue to evolve.
3) How have you adapted to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and what advice would you give someone going through similar challenges?
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the economy. Consumers are more open to adopting digital technologies and organizations have changed their business models overnight to align with the changing market dynamics. I have adapted to these challenges by leveraging my love of learning. I am learning to be more curious about exploring the implications of similar situations in the future and preparing to be more resilient.
I believe that rather than waiting for the storm to pass, we need to learn to change the way we sail our ship. This pandemic presents an opportunity for individuals and organizations to learn to be more flexible by cultivating growth mindsets and building resilience.
4) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy growth in your country?
The Government of India is making noteworthy progress in addressing the energy access challenge and increasing the capacity of renewable energy sources. There are immense opportunities across the energy value chain. The Indian environment is open to adopting clean energy and energy efficiency policies and subsequent regulations for market transformation. There are opportunities pertaining to increasing the energy market competitiveness, expanding grid infrastructure and setting up policy reforms. From the demand side, companies are building innovative products and systems that aid consumers to optimally use energy.
Overall, I believe that India’s leapfrog sustainability initiatives are creating ample opportunities to innovate.
5) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?
It is absolutely necessary to build inclusive workplaces where individuals can attain their highest potential irrespective of their gender.
Unfortunately, the lower representation of women in the energy sector has created a lack of role models. This, in turn, prevents subsequent generations of women from pursuing this field. I studied electrical engineering in a class with 8% female representation. So, I believe that showcasing the achievements of women role models to young girls can encourage them to build a career in the energy sector.
On the one hand, I reach out to the very few women leaders through various mentoring programs and fellowships to learn from their experiences. On the other hand, I strive to share my knowledge with my juniors from my alma mater and my workplace.
6) Why did you join the GWNET Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
The energy sector is changing at an unprecedented rate. Due to its volatile and uncertain nature, the leaders need to create a culture of learning and resilience. I believe that the knowledge transfer webinars and interactions with my mentor shall aid me in imbibing the qualities of such a leadership style.
Additionally, GWNET is an excellent platform to exchange ideas and collaborate with highly acclaimed professionals across the globe. In summary, this mentoring programme will provide me with the right ecosystem for advancing my journey towards becoming a specialist in business strategies that drive the energy transition.
7) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?
I think that this is the most exciting time to work in the energy sector. Over the past few years, this field has continued to become more and more multidisciplinary. It offers an opportunity to make a huge difference irrespective of your background.
You can be an engineer, an economist, a statistician, a data analyst, a policymaker or an investment banker – you can make a very powerful impact in accelerating the energy transition. My advice to women joining the sustainable energy sector is to leverage their diverse academic and cultural experiences in bringing more creativity and innovation to build a better world.
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.