Women in energy: Interview with Andrea Lenauer (ICER)
In this interview for Lights on Women, the co-chair of ICER’s Women in Energy initiative, Andrea Lenauer talks with us about gender equality and women empowerment in the energy sector.
Hi Andrea, tell us about yourself: your background, and professional achievements you are particularly proud of.
When I had my start in the energy sector, the European electricity landscape was also in a pioneering phase. That was in 1999/2000 when the first electricity market directive was being negotiated. My task as an international analyst in the electricity business of the biggest Austrian electricity group, Verbund, was to evaluate the emerging markets of the Eastern European countries (then not yet EU members) regarding their viability.
In this capacity, and under the supervision of Relation Manager Marianne Osterkorn-Moscoso, I visited the most important authorities and institutions in Budapest, Warsaw, and Bratislava. Austria’s regulatory authority was founded only 2 years later, in May 2001.
This is when I began my career in the Austrian regulatory authority E-Control in the department for competition and regulation. My mission was to found a lobbying firm in the geographic heart of the EU, at the Rond Point Schuman in Brussels.
What is your experience as a woman in the energy sector: have you ever felt discriminated against, or have you encountered specific barriers/obstacles in your career because of your gender?
In my first job, I did not experience gender discrimination. In my department, we were 4 women and 2 men. It was more about being on the right team. And most of the teams were male teams, almost boys’ clubs. Yet, when it came to taking part in international regulator meetings, I, as a young woman, was met with quite some detachment.
Anyways, I was not to be deterred by the reactions of others and managed to quickly establish a good reputation which earned me a job with the New Member States Task Force and later with the ERGEG Task Force South East European Tariffs. I’ve only had one negative experience in my career, and I quit that job after a year.
In my current position at E-Control, we value gender equality in our daily business and exchanges. Things are starting to change in the energy landscape, and we can do more.
You have been engaged in the cause for gender equality in the energy sector for a long time now, and you have acted as a mentor for women in the sector. Tell us a bit about your role. What stimulates you about it, and what have you learned from it?
Una Shortall, my colleague in Brussels and later CEER Secretary General founded the ICER Women in Energy initiative. I participated several times as a mentor and always brought in my own coaching methods because mentoring alone just didn’t feel enough to co-create actional steps.
Later, CEER proposed that I follow in Una’s footsteps succeeding her as ICER Co-Chair of Women in Energy and the ICER Steering Committee made me Vice-Chair at the end of 2021.
Based on my experience, there are two questions all mentees would like to find answers to: 1) How do I obtain leadership skills and 2) How do I develop a large career network? The Women in Energy Peer Coaching Programme aims to address both questions and help women professionals to take the next level. The programme allows participants to meet on a level playing field. In their feedback and network circles, peers report that these encounters are extremely helpful and that the women share both private and professional challenges and thereby attain the next level.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the new generations of women in the energy sector? What advice would you give to those who are entering this sector now?
Working with young people, I realise that often it is the very basics that they lack: How do I work out a long-term plan? What is my goal? What about my finances? How do I draw a line when, e.g. I need a break?, etc. From my experience in the Energy Community, I have retained the following learnings:
- To be a leader is not an end in itself
- You always need an exit strategy/plan B
- As a woman leader, stand for other female colleagues who may not be able to raise their voices due to difficult circumstances
Learn more about ICER WIE
ICER’s Women in Energy initiative aims to help the advancement of women in energy, both through practical tools and also by seeking to change culture and attitudes.
The ICER WIE network is a global collaborative network for the benefit of women. It is open to staff of energy regulatory authorities. Members have access to training, networking events, and ICER’s mentoring programme.
The goal of this global initiative of energy regulators is to help the advancement of women in energy. CEER is proud to be a partner.
More information on the ICER WIE website
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