Professional women from across the energy field came together at the Females in Energy Efficiency (FEE) networking breakfast at Emperors Palace on 12 November, as part of the 10th South African Energy Efficiency Convention. This breakfast was hosted in conjunction with the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) and Saint-Gobain.
Opening the morning’s proceedings, FEE Committee chairperson, Noxolo Mbana, explained that the FEE, which was established in November 2014 during the 2014SAEEC, is a division of the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE), focusing on supporting and celebrating the role of women in the energy efficiency industry.
Julie Wells, marketing and communication manager at NCPC-SA added that the NCPC-SA is supporting FEE in an effort to facilitate the inclusion of women in all areas of energy efficiency in industry, including their integration into technical and management teams.
Encouraging the ladies to take themselves more seriously, Elizabeth Marabwa, chief director and programme and projects manager at the Department of Energy, told the audience: “Don’t be ‘by the way’, be significant. Don’t be indifferent – say something, do something. Be different.” Her inspiring talk even got the audience to join her in song – proclaiming that the name and worth of women need to be embraced.
Valerie Geen, head of energy at the National Business Initiative, spoke about her journey from starting out as a social worker and the roles she fulfilled ever since. “All experiences can be valuable, nothing is wasted,” she emphasised. “The fundamental driving me is that I will be the change I want to see in this world. I am up for any challenge,” she enthused.
Geen also spoke about how women should use their inherent skills to make it in the business world. “Be curious about what is happening around you and connect the dots in your workplace. Importantly, communicate your successes,” she advised. “Figure out who you are, what your strengths are and what value you can add. Walk with your eyes open because every day there might be opportunities,” she added.
Karel Steyn, SAEE president, concluded the formalities by applauding the FEE for their initiatives. He noted that men and women of all backgrounds and races should team up and work together as a group for change. “One can’t win on one’s own,” he stated.
The FEE networking breakfast was held as a side event to the SAEE Convention and provided the ideal platform for attendees to build new contacts, meet possible mentors, hear about new initiatives and opportunities, as well as share advice on dealing with challenges in the industry. The 11th SAEEC will take place on 7 & 8 November 2016 and an even bigger side event for women will be planned.