Nicole Algio is the Secretariat Manager for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) for the southern African region.
REEEP is an international organisation with its southern African office hosted at SANEDI.
1. What does your job entail?
My role as Secretariat Manager is to manage our renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) activities and projects in the region, maintain open and strong communication and networks in the region between stakeholder groups, and advance the REEEP mission which is: to invest in clean energy markets to help developing countries expand modern energy services and improve lives, increase prosperity and economic dynamism.
REEEP’s tools are modern clean energy technologies – renewable energy and energy efficiency – market forces, and knowledge management.
2. What aspect of your job do you enjoy most?
The access to various stakeholder groups and working with them to forward the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. I am passionate about seeing progress in this sector and pleased that I have the ability to be a part of social change and address issues around climate change. I like that I can bring together people from within different professional backgrounds… allowing, for example, the scientists, engineers, financiers and civil society to talk to each other and find solutions in addressing issues such as climate change, energy access, water and more.
3. Please name some of your biggest achievements during your career?
I believe achievements come in little advances here and there that build the bigger picture. Seeing people become more knowledgeable about energy and seeing the increased awareness and uptake of relevant behaviour and technology might seem a small achievement but has far reaching positive effects down the line, and I am happy that I can have an active part in that. Achievement for me is finding and connecting the right people to build and create that bigger picture, setting up the correct structures and advancing our goals.
My career in South Africa started with Carbon Trading and Climate Change and I was part of the original group of individuals that helped get the industry promoted and active in South Africa. Since then, I have moved from carbon into energy and I form part of a system that transfers knowledge to up and coming, young energy professionals.
4. a. What is the best professional advice you ever received?
The first one that comes to mind is READ - empower yourself. A colleague and friend once told me: “In business and this sector we work in, read everything you can get your hands on. Buy a new book every month, read it and understand it - empower yourself with knowledge”. I still do and it’s such a simple and relatively cheap way to keep up to date with current practice, knowledge and news. I pass this advice on to any young professionals joining our team. You might not be able to afford higher education but anyone can have access to books and the internet in some form.
b. And personal?
To always be open to new information, to question and to think. It’s not important to be right but it is important to be receptive to different perspectives and constantly update my knowledge base.
5. What personality trait do you think is crucial for success in business?
I think of two:
One, communication! Any member of staff needs to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. When good communication does not exist or breaks down, cracks in the work environment will most definitely affect meeting objectives, achievements and ultimately the overall strategy and health of the business.
Two, assertiveness! There is no room for emotion in the workplace and I find (sadly) that most women in the workplace tend to be either submissive or passive aggressive. Assertiveness is so important and necessary to foster a positive workplace environment because it can generate positive outcomes by fostering neutral communication. All women should take a communication course on assertiveness.
6. In your opinion, is a woman’s role in business different to that of a man? If so, how?
Women offer different skill sets to that of men. Women tend to be better team players, are more holistic in their thinking and are generally better multitaskers, while men are a lot more independently focused on tasks and forward in negotiations.
An effective and successful business team, in my opinion, will depend on an equal split of sexes in the workplace and identifying the skill sets of each and applying them to boost organisational collaboration, productivity and general workplace happiness.
7. How do you wind down after a busy day?
My routine is pretty much the same every week day. After work you will find me at the gym – it’s my escape and how I calm body and mind.