On June 17, 2015, New York Energy Week hosted the Women in Power Breakfast that featured prominent female leaders who spoke about the increasingly influential role that women are playing in the next generation energy industry. In previous decades, it was less common for women to occupy executive roles in the energy industry. Today this trend is changing and women are at the forefront, tackling critical problems in the energy space. The panel at this event spoke about the changing participation of women in the industry as well as the skills necessary for specific sectors, professional development insights, time and energy management, and strategies for facing the upcoming challenges and opportunities in the U.S. energy fields. The speakers featured on this panel included:

  • Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City, Opening Speaker
  • K’Lynne Johnson, CEO, Elevance Renewable Sciences
  • Emilie Nelson, Vice President, Market Operations, NYISO
  • Sunita Satyapal, Director of Fuel Cell Technologies, US Department of Energy
  • Margaret (Peggy) Smyth, CFO, National Grid
  • Angelique Mercurio, Founder & CEO, EnerKnol, Moderator

Despite the variety of backgrounds of the speakers, all panelists discussed the need for increasing rate of technological innovation to work towards resilient and sustainable solutions for infrastructure, consumption, utility sources, and other future changes in the energy sector. In particular, the speakers discussed how the process of technological innovation in this industry should interact with existing policies and regulations, and with the existing market. Most of the speakers seemed to agree that the best solution for promoting rapid innovation and sustainable growth is to focus on the performance principle and keep legislation “technology agnostic” in order to let the markets facilitate innovation. Increasing numbers of partnerships between utilities companies, policymakers, as well as public and private entities is also shaping and reinventing the future of the energy sector towards resiliency.

The speakers shared their experiences climbing the success ladder in historically male-dominated energy industries including utilities, science, technology, oil, and gas sectors. The advice that they gave to other women seeking to break through in these industries was to focus on learning opportunities, to foster cooperation, and to equip yourself with the technical skills you need to be successful amidst peers you admire.

The dialogue about the future of the energy industry and its opportunities for innovation was very informative, and the varied backgrounds of the speakers made each of their insights unique from one another. It was interesting to see how each of the women approached the moderator’s questions from a different perspective based on the distinct field they specialize in. The discussion could have benefitted from having the speakers go more in depth about what was required to succeed in their specific areas of expertise, however this would have been understandably difficult to fit in for the scope of this event.

Overall this event was a beneficial experience, and we look forward to what NYEW will have to offer next year.

For more information about this event, please see the New York Energy Week website http://nyenergyweek.com/2015-schedule/

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