4 Mar 2021 .

International Women's Day 2021 at Natural Power

Meagan Santos, senior project engineer

Meagan is based in our Seattle office. Her area of focus is renewable project operations, including operational agreements and expenditures, as well financial model review. 

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

More than ever the doors are open for women who want to pursue a career in STEM, and the need for women’s participation in those fields has only increased over time. Fresh and diverse perspectives are needed to solve modern problems, which is where women, and more specifically the next generation of them, are needed to shift the traditional procedures and processes. Pretty much every woman in the field that I have come across strives to better support future generations. Many are beyond willing to help through teaching or mentoring. This is something young women should take advantage of: talk to those in the industry, hear their stories and determine individual interests. There are so many ways to go about entering the STEM field, so never be afraid to ask for help. For example, if you’re into renewable energy, there are organizations like Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) to help inspire. Use any number of networks and resources, such as local connections or websites like LinkedIn.  

What’s the most interesting project that you’ve worked on so far?

Over the years, one of the most interesting projects I worked on was the Crew Access Arm Hydraulic Power System at the ULA Space Launch Complex-41/Cape Canaveral. This hydraulic system was one of the Atlas V launch system pad modifications to support human spaceflight, operating an articulated arm from the service tower to the capsule for crew access and emergency egress. During a launch, the service tower (and the mounted equipment) is subjected to a challenging design environment from the caustic propellant to the extreme acoustic frequencies. In addition to working on this unique project, I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the site for start-up. It was definitely awe-inspiring to see the revived space flight program in action. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I see International Women’s Day as a celebration of how far women have come from positions of little power and influence, not to celebrate how women are different (or better), but rather the equality and achievements of women, highlighting their important contributions to a number of industries.

Charlotte Pollock, wind turbine technician – Authorised Technician (AT)

Charlotte joined Natural Power in 2019, and last year she stepped up from Competent Technician (CT) to become the first female full AT at Natural Power.

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career as a technician or want to work in the renewables industry?

Just do it! It is going to be tough, and there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but if you are 100% committed to achieving your goals, there is absolutely nothing that can stop you from pursuing a career as a technician, or any job in the renewables industry.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I would say that the highlight of my career so far was when I was travelling to work in different places. In June 2019, I was sent up to work in Thurso, which is the furthest I’ve travelled within the bounds of the United Kingdom. During the visit. we drove up to John o’ Groats, the mostly northerly point of mainland Britain. This is something I otherwise probably wouldn't have experienced had I not been posted up there to work. 

What’s your International Women’s Day message for other women?

Don’t let the opinions of others, nor societal norms, determine who you are, or what you aim to achieve. 

Hannah Staab, head of advisory – Europe

Hannah coordinates the delivery of technical due diligence and strategic advisory services for wind, solar PV and energy storage projects. She leads a team of project managers and technical experts working on clean energy projects across the world.

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career in the renewable energy industry and tackle the challenge of climate change?

Our sector offers a huge range of career paths: it’s not all about engineering! There are a growing number of excellent post-graduate degrees that can help you develop relevant skills and knowledge in relation to renewable energy projects and will make you stand out to potential employers. If you’re currently working in a different sector, I would recommend reading up on the current challenges and market developments our industry is facing to gain a better understanding of where your experience could best fit in. Finally, remember that careers in renewables aren’t just about working for large utilities or energy majors. There’s a huge number of small to mid-size developers, consultancies and start-ups that are looking to grow and hire new staff.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

My career highlights are moments where I’ve had the chance to influence and contribute to broader industry developments, for example, in relation to co-location of wind and solar PV projects. It’s incredibly satisfying to see ideas take hold and encourage clients to explore innovative solutions on the basis of my advice and expertise.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me, International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate women’s achievements in our industry, but also to take a hard look at the disadvantages women still face in the workplace and challenge our industry to do better. I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve been frustrated at the renewables sector being an old boys’ club. Women aren’t responsible for finding all the solutions for systemic inequality, but we can support our peers, mentor junior staff, and find ways to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for everyone.  

Charly Jackson, wind turbine technician – Authorised Technician (AT)

Charly passed her Limited AT interview panel in 2020 to become the first female Limited AT at Natural Power.

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career as a technician or want to work in the renewables industry?

My advice would be to forget all the stigma and stereotypes and just go for it. You won’t know until you’ve tried. You need to do what you want, what’s best for yourself and not let anyone else put you off. It’s a male-dominated workplace, but if you go in with a good sense of humor and good attitude to learning new things you will fit in fine. Once you’re in, you will find that everyone is very welcoming, friendly and it’s a really rewarding job. Being proactive and motivated is key to success in this industry.

What’s the most interesting project that you’ve worked on so far?

The most interesting project would be getting to do the heavy lift jobs, such as hiring cranes in to remove heavy components such as gearbox’s and rotors off the turbines, and seeing how a turbine gearbox is replaced. Also, lifting the gearbox out of the turbine to land on the ground for us to work on, too. We then remove the low-speed shaft and place it into the new gearbox, and then, once everything’s completed on the ground, it’s a process of putting everything back in the turbine. It’s a very interesting process to be a part of.

What’s your International Women’s Day message for other women?

My message would be to go for your career goals and aspirations without hesitating. The more you put in, the more reward you will get out of it and grow as a person. Don’t let anyone knock you down. If they do, just get back up and keep pushing yourself to experience new things no matter how hard it gets.

Dr. Leanne Ramage, director of advisory and analytics

Leanne became a director in 2020 after being head of projects at Natural Power, where she led the technical development of a new suite of services focusing on improving the operational performance and management of renewable assets.

What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a leadership/director role in a similar field to yours?

The renewable energy sector was built historically from an engineering and scientific background. It’s therefore not surprising that traditionally male employees filled senior roles. Having a physics background myself, from the beginning of my career I have always had far fewer female peers than male; however, I have never felt that this has impacted any of my personal career development. I am very passionate about the renewable energy industry, and I genuinely believe that all of the career opportunities I have had have been based on my suitability for the role and ambition to grow. I really hope that one day we will live in a world where there are no male or female leaders, instead there will just be leaders. My advice to anyone looking to pursue a leadership role similar to mine, is firstly find something you enjoy doing. As Aristotle stated: “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”. Secondly, if you see a role that you think is a good fit for you and, most importantly, interests you, then go for it.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career to date is completing my first year as director of the Advisory and Analytics business unit at Natural Power. The successes we achieved last year are down to the passion, enthusiasm and expertise within the team. The strength of teamwork and collaboration that was displayed last year was outstanding, and I am immensely proud of how far we have come as a department.

What’s your International Women’s Day message for other women?

My message to everyone on International Women’s Day is to be true to yourself and do the things that make you happy.

Further reading

19 March 2020 . Analysis

Natural Power appoints Director of advisory and analytics

4 February 2020

How developers and investors can capitalise on the benefits of renewable energy portfolio aggregation

13 January 2020 . Due diligence

Natural Power advises on Finnish wind deal

20 December 2019 . Due diligence

Natural Power advises Cubico Sustainable Investments on sale of UK wind and solar portfolio

18 December 2019

Renewable energy’s rising stars win seats on RenewableUK’s new Shadow Board

21 May 2020 . Natural Power

Natural Power’s Young Professional Shines