POWERful Women launch POWERful Connections to the energy sector

Julia Clarke (right) discusses the need for more POWERful Women in Scotland with Ruth Cairnie, Chair, POWERful Women.
Julia Clarke (right) Board Consultant to Scottish Energy News, discusses the need for more POWERful Women in Scotland with Ruth Cairnie, Chair, POWERful Women.

POWERful WOMEN was launched in June 2014 by Baroness Verma and Laura Sandys. It is a call to action to reach goals set for 2030: that 30% of executive board members and 40% of middle managers should be female by then.

The first anniversary event to celebrate the launch of POWERful Women was held last week in the House of Lords.

Scores of powerful women  (and some men) – gathered to hear the keynote speeches from Ruth Cairnie, Independent Director, and the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women.

Ruth Cairnie – an energy veteran with a 37 year career with Shell – also announced the launch of POWERful Connections – a flagship initiative supporting our aim of ‘supporting and connecting women in their progression’.

It will pair some of the most influential people working in energy today (we are calling them our ‘POWERful Connections’) with female professionals who are aspiring to move into senior leadership positions within the next five years.

Cairnie explained: “In essence, POWERful Connections is about matching the experience of one person with the potential of another.  It aims to give leaders of the future support in taking their next steps by giving them one-to-one time with those who have already trodden the same path and are now at energy’s top table.

“Our impressive cast-list of ‘POWERful Connections’ includes people like Brent Cheshire (Chief Executive, Dong Energy) Alistair Phillips-Davies (Chief Executive, SSE) and Dame Sue Ion of the Royal Academy of Engineering.”

Reviewing the first 12 months of POWERful Women, Cairnie added: “We are familiar with the enormous challenges faced globally by the industry in the years and decades ahead – the need to deliver 50% more energy by 2050 to support the growing world population and increasing prosperity in developing economies; the unprecedented levels of investment this will require; and the need for a revolution in the make-up of the energy industry to meet environmental pressures, with the contribution from renewables increasing several times over.

“And while addressing all these challenges, meanwhile the industry has to manage its way through ever increasing uncertainty and volatility driven by the global commodity markets and geopolitical tensions.

“The energy industry in the UK faces the same challenges – the need for investment, the need for a new energy mix and the need to navigate through uncertainty and volatility.

“To do this, the industry needs access to ALL the best talent; it needs many diverse views brought to bear on the challenges faced; and it needs to work more collaboratively to ensure the best ideas across the industry are listened to and acted on.

“A better representation of women in the industry can make an important – an essential – contribution.”

Julia Clarke – who has joined Scottish Energy News as Energy Policy Consultant after a 15 year career representing the consumer interest with Which? in Scotland –  was among the POWERful Women guests. She said:

‘Despite the presence of strong women in politics in Scotland – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon perhaps being the most prominent – this representation is not particularly well reflected in energy companies, either north or south of the border.

 “And in my experience, reflecting the gender make-up of the population can only help build trust with the consumer. This event shows that some energy companies are behind the idea – now we need more of them to deliver!

“The Terrace fairly buzzed with ideas, ranging from how to get more girls to study science and maths, to the best way to get women through the glass ceiling and into the boardroom.” 

Cairnie added: These initiatives both address our aim of challenging and supporting energy companies in taking positive steps ,to ensure more women are represented at senior, Director and Board level.”

Guests also included Tess Sundelin (Managing Director, Green Hedge Group) Jack Gritt from Jacobs, Kate Baxter (Lightsource Renewable Energy) Maria McCaffery (Chief Executive, Renewables UK) Rosie MacRae (SSE), Tracey Siddle (Good Energy) and Tracey Phillipson (Energy Institute).

For more information:

POWERful Women: www.powerfulwomen.org.uk

Women’s Engineering Society: www.wes.org.uk

Photograph by Martin Gammon www.hereandnowphotography.com


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