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28 April 2020
Women in Wind Q&A: Isabel Rodriguez de Rivera
The Women in Wind Global Leadership Program sat down with Isabel Rodriguez de Rivera, one of this year’s Mentors, to chat about her pathway to renewable energy and issues facing women in the wind sector.
Isabel is an Investment Director at Glennmont Partners. She has more than 10 years of experience in renewable energy transactions in Europe and emerging markets. In this time she led the origination, investment and financing of solar and wind energy projects globally. Before joining Glennmont, Isabel worked at Envision Energy, based in London, and was responsible for the origination and structuring of third-party financing for all Latin American investments.
How did you first become interested in renewable energy and joining the clean energy transition?
I have always been interested in alternative ways of energy generation, predominantly because of its potential to contribute to the overall energy demand whilst preserving a sustainable future for the planet.
Tell us about your expertise and passion in the sector. How has this business area changed over the course of your career so far? For you, what is the next “space to watch” in renewable energy?
I started working in renewables quite early in my career and have been lucky enough to be part of the amazing and incredible transformation of the sector. The evolution of renewable energy over the past decade has surpassed all expectations, global installed capacity and production from all renewable technologies have increased substantially, currently renewable energy is not only viewed as a tool to mitigate climate change, but is also recognised as an investment that provides direct and indirect economic advantages by reducing dependence on imported fuels. Declining costs have also played a significant role in the expansion of renewable energy deployment in recent years. Several renewable energy technologies are today cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies.
For me, the next spaces to watch are the increasing share of renewable energy, energy storage deployment and hybrid solutions, increase in grid parity projects with further improvements in the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and increased energy access in developing countries.
What sort of challenges did you encounter in entering the sector?
The renewable sector has been historically led by heavy engineering and it is not surprising that energy companies were traditionally male-dominated. Given my engineering background I have become used to be a minority in number from very early on (there were only three other female colleagues in my first year of university) however I have never felt this imposed a particular challenge in my career development and I consider the job opportunities and promoting have been granted based on merits and suitability for the role.
Having worked in different type of organizations and in different companies I have encountered a variety of cultural challenges. For example, a corporate/construction company in Spain is different than a German company operating in Ireland, and French utilities have a different approach than a Chinese OEM. My particular way to overcome these challenges has always been flexibility, and maintaining an open mind with all stakeholders, and of course combined with focus on all aspects on my day-to-day work.
If you had to pick one key issue facing women in the wind power sector, what would it be and why?
Most of the issues that women find in the wind power sector are common to other similarly demanding sectors which are male-dominated. Women face an added pressure as there is typically the belief (and that can be external but in most cases is internal) to be perfect in all aspects – as a professional, but also as a wife, mother, daughter, etc.
I have found that one issue women face when moving upwards in their careers is a lack of inner confidence that the type of job, and the seniority that comes with it, can be undertaken, managed and fully integrated with all other personal responsibilities.
Finally, what do you hope to achieve as a Mentor in the Women in Wind Global Leadership Program? How will you contribute to the next generation of female leaders in the sector?
I am really grateful to Women in Wind for the opportunity of being a mentor in this program. I am and have always been passionate about renewable energy and the contributions it brings to the planet. I am at one point in my career where I believe I have accumulated significant experience across the whole value chain of the renewable energy sector, and would like to contribute with my knowledge to bringing new enthusiasts to our sector.
I have not had the opportunity in my career to be mentored by a more senior professional, and I believe the advice and knowledge that experience brings can serve as a good guide to the next generation of female renewable professionals.
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