Shaily Munjal, Senior Manager Business Consulting at Cognizant, and Women in Tech Excellence Awards finalist, sets out what women can deliver for the energy tech sector.
I was born into a family of bankers in the foothills of Kasauli, India. This mountainous area suffers continual energy/utilities challenges - frequent power losses, water supply issues, etc. Growing up, I wondered how these might be addressed and this curiosity drove my passion; today I am an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in the energy sector, helping companies design, build and optimise energy solutions. Using cloud-based technologies, I have designed solutions for peak demand-response consumption and helped to build ‘data lakes' to promote clean energy covering areas such as electric vehicle charging to reducing monthly bills for energy consumers. I've also worked on complex IT integrations to support company mergers within the Energy & Utilities sector.
Women represent so much untapped potential within the Energy Tech sector. They bring a diversity of views and expertise that can help to close the industry skills shortage. Not only is their employment and advancement aligned with two of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (5: Gender Equality and 10: Reduced Inequalities), they also tend to provide greater social responsibility and other ESG values, which they champion. Encouraging more female representation within STEM industries will help these sectors to evolve in an inclusive manner.
This topic is important to me; as a leader I've seen first-hand the value that women bring. Primary goals for the sector - customer satisfaction, better consumer resonance; reputational issues such as driving greener outcomes; and enabling organisations to evolve/innovate to stay ahead of the curve and maximise new revenue streams - can all be served by an the different perspectives brought through an increased presence of women in the industry.
With more women in our industry, the better they will be able to prove their accountability and ability, in turn building trust and opening the sector to a broader innovation pool.
As a leader, in what remains a male-dominated environment, I have experienced unconscious bias, including well-intended behaviours stifling my learning. It's often the case that women have to ‘work twice as hard' to demonstrate their strengths, so self-promotion is paramount. I have addressed this by building trust, showing curiosity and always volunteering to be part of change, enabling me to prove my expertise in my domain, so my team knew they could rely on me to think strategically and make logical decisions when needed.
We have limited female role models to inspire more women to bring to challenge the status quo. It's a cliché, but my mum is my inspiration. I've never seen her not work. She started out as a manager in a pharmaceutical firm in the 1980s and I have seen her strive and never settle for less than making things work. I aspire to be a role model to women in my industry in this way.
We are seeing more women rising to the top levels within companies, though still only 10% of large corporates have a female CEO. To drive this further, we need to embed the inclusion agenda into our day-to-day work, creating safe environments in which women can speak up, be heard and challenge the ‘accepted' ways of working.
If I have one piece of advice for women entering my industry, it's to be ceaselessly curious. As soon as the learning stops, so does your growth. Keep learning new skills, be bold and ask tough questions, be visible in meetings and voice your opinion whenever necessary.