Women in Wind 2020 Q&A: Mahalakshmi Gunasekaran

 

The Women in Wind Global Leadership Program sat down with Mahalakshmi Gunasekaran, one of this year’s Participants, to chat about her pathway to renewable energy and issues facing women in the wind sector. 

Maha is a Data warehousing specialist with the product lifecycle management (PLM) department, Vestas R&D and is based in Chennai, India.  She works on integrating data from multiple systems to derive data insights used for analysis, decision-making and performance monitoring in change management and material master data management.

She specializes in SQL server programming and development of tabular cubes to build BI reports, collaborating with stakeholders across the value chain. She also supports the business process improvement and operational execution with these insights and automation. 

 

How did you first become interested in renewable energy and joining the clean energy transition?

I was looking for a job where my ideas and contribution would be valued, but I was not aware that original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies provide opportunities for women in the data science stream. I obtained two opportunities: one  with Vestas and the other with a service provider. My preference was to be part of the renewable energy industry, where my professional growth would go hand-in-hand with contributing to building a greener future.

Tell us about your expertise and passion in the sector. For you, what is the next “space to watch” in renewable energy?

At Vestas, part of my role is to develop the framework and foundation for data analysis along with business intelligence reports. These play a key role in improving our process performance in PLM, and have been immensely helpful in closing the knowledge gaps. 

The field of artificial intelligence in our sector is growing enormously and has started to pay off with great results. I also see wind and solar hybrid technology paired with electrical energy storage systems as a very promising field where we can use  real-time data for our analysis.

I believe that gender bias often makes women's talent go unnoticed. Women's ideas, no matter how valid they are, can be undervalued if they are not given credit for their work.

What sort of challenges did you encounter in entering the sector? 

The challenge after entering this sector was the lack of a mentor figure, but in a way this also helped me to build my confidence in this challenging environment. Most people have a stereotypical notion that women will quit after having children.  Although this has not been a challenge for me to date, as I wanted to maintain my role after my pregnancy, it confused me at first and made me question whether I was making the right choice by continuing with my job. Being able to pursue my passion to work with data in the renewable industry, bringing positive impacts to the business, handling challenges and, last but not least, having my family’s support helped me to overcome this challenge.

If you had to pick one key issue facing women in the wind power sector, what would it be and why? 

I believe that gender bias often makes women’s talent go unnoticed. Women’s ideas, no matter how valid they are, can be undervalued if they are not given credit for their work. 

Finally, what do you hope to achieve as a participant of Women in Wind Global Leadership Program? How will you contribute to the next generation of female leaders in the sector?

I read this while I was a school kid and it deeply etched in my mind: “Life is not long enough if you want to experience everything yourself; sometimes, you learn from the experience of others.” 

I’m looking forward to learning from the experience of other Participants coming from different cultures and nationalities, to know more about the inclusiveness of our industry across the globe and to apply the takeaways for my personal development. This will not only improve my skills, but I also look forward to applying the knowledge to support my colleagues.

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