GWNET brings you the 3rd 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 2/2019 Mentoring Programme. This mentoring programme contains 22 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from over 15 countries. Meet GWNET mentee, Tatiana Orellana. Tatiana is an electrical engineer whose work focuses on supporting the capacity building of key actors in the Central American energy sector with the goal to address the grid integration of variable renewable energies.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I am Salvadorian and an electrical engineer. For more than 7 years I have worked as a technical advisor for the German cooperation GIZ in El Salvador, for projects in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy, to enhance capacity building in the energy sector in Central America.
What I love most about the work that I do is supporting the energy transition through development cooperation actions such as advisory services and training. Before joining GIZ, I did not know how to be “a change agent”. But with my current position, I can play this role, and therefore I can help key institutions achieve national and regional goals.
2) What were your goals when you started working in sustainable energy? Have these evolved?
When I started working in sustainable energy my goal was to merely focus on gaining experience in renewable energy technologies. But then I understood the need to tackle climate change and the meaning of development cooperation. Thus, my goals evolved.
So, I can say that my goals are aligned towards making a difference and encouraging my partners to look for solutions and take action for a cleaner energy matrix, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
Moreover, I see myself working in the transport sector, where there are greater opportunities to combat climate change.
3) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy growth in your country?
In my opinion, there are still some opportunities for sustainable energy growth in Central America.
On the one hand, in the electricity sector, there are opportunities to foster and update national policies (e.g. for digitalisation solutions), invest in capacity building (human and organisational), and create learning networks to address the grid integration of variable renewable energy and increase intelligent energy consumption.
On the other hand, there is a greater opportunity in the transport sector, through the creation of framework conditions for Electric Vehicles (EVs) rollout and the promotion of E-fuels and energy saving. In EVs rollout, Costa Rica is a pioneer, so I recommend that the rest of the countries should learn from the Costa Rican experience.
4) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) these challenges?
I have not faced any major challenges in the electricity sector in Central America. Indeed, I have had the opportunity to work in an atmosphere where women and men are respected equally.
In addition, from my point of view, it is important that women have good self-esteem and confidence in our ability to do our job well all of the time. And it is even more important to be open to receive constructive criticism, and if there is something you need to change, just do it!
5) Why did you join the GWNET Mentorship Programme? What do you hope to achieve?
I decided to join the programme because I desired to meet and learn from women who are pioneers and leaders in the sustainable energy sector and have much more experience than I do. I consider it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get guidance and good advice.
I not only expect to be able to achieve better performance in my current position, but I also want to prepare for my future work life (as a lobbyist and manager) in order to continue to drive the energy transition in developing countries.
6) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?
If women are passionate about fighting climate change, I encourage them to never give up preparing for and seeking opportunities as technical advisors or financial analysts in the energy sector. Besides this, it is important to be confident that we can make a difference in each of our areas of work.
If you are interested in knowing more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes, this comprehensive article outlines our work in this area.