GWNET brings you the 2nd instalment of the “Meet the Women in the SICA Energy Transition” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of the Women in the SICA Energy Transition Mentoring Programme. This programme is made up of 38 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from 7 countries. Meet SICA mentee, Lilian Roxana Alfaro, Planning Engineer at Empresa Transmisora de El Salvador S.A. de C.V. in El Salvador.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I have the opportunity to innovate in tasks related to data analysis and business intelligence and propose updated procedures for the day-to-day activities in the transmission planning area. This gives me the opportunity to showcase my experience and work with my colleagues and managers in a positive way.
2) What were your goals when you started working in the energy sector? How have these evolved?
I started working in a distribution utility, in the planning area. At first, I meant to learn from everyone in the department and in the business, no specific goal was targeted. I was a young graduate engineer, eager to apply my knowledge and academic theory to the field.
Eventually, I specialized in project formulation, evaluation and management, which gave me another perspective to keep learning about project management. Also, my supervisor encouraged me to learn about business intelligence, because of the opportunities this field opens for data analysis in the future.
3) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy in your country?
There is an increasing number of opportunities in project development of photovoltaic energy, from the design to the commissioning phase, and more women are joining this field because of that. Many opportunities come from equipment sales, especially from international companies that are interested in establishing relations with utilities within the region.
One day, I was invited to a meeting with my coworkers and some managers to discuss a problem in the area. I was one of the youngest engineers on that table, with less professional experience and I was also the only woman there. I remember my ideas and proposals were being left behind and not properly discussed, even though I was proposing the same things as my workmates. That helped me understand the need to improve my presence and confidence in those kind of environments to be taken seriously by my team in future projects.
I’d like to be studying my PhD in Power Systems and investigating how we can improve technology in the energy field to make it more efficient, affordable and sustainable. I’d like to start a consulting company that is dedicated to research and development of these kind of technologies, often manufactured in first world countries.
6) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?
I was first interested in electronics before deciding to study electrical engineering. That’s why I studied electronics in high school, which gave me a broader vision of the energy field and I decided to enrol in engineering school because I was curious to know more about how energy is produced.
That’s why any advice I would give to other women is to start by studying the options and choose one that fits your interests. Maybe along the road you will get to know more about other fields and end up like me in the energy sector, curious to know more about energy. You could start by enrolling in a workshop, a short course or a lecture on topics you like, and you’ll see that there are many opportunities to grow in this sector.
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.