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IWD 2022: Celebrating Women of the Global Sustainability Business

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the powerful force for good that women can be in the world. Today, at Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business, we want to recognize the achievements of women who are leading the change toward gender equity in the workplace and explore the ways in which women are driving the global sustainable transformation. We sat down with a group of women representing and leading our business to get their take on what it’s like to be a woman in the energy and sustainability space and learn more about what inspires them every day.

What brought you to a career in energy and sustainability and what advice do you have for women entering the industry?

Our interviewees shared about the variety of routes to take to find a professional home in this industry. For some women, like Tammy Fulop, VP of Sales, Erin Dierking, Director of Global Data Operations, and Laura Eve, VP of Emerging Digital Offers, a career in sustainability found them by chance:

Tammy: “I was recruited straight out of college and I have been blessed to play a part in shaping and growing the business over the last 23 years. Most of my career has been focused on the public sector, helping make our clients’ cities and schools more efficient & sustainable — both economically, environmentally, and operationally. I love working with a group that has a bigger purpose. What is more meaningful than helping our clients solve real, important problems while furthering their organization’s mission and vision?” 

“My advice for women entering the industry is to learn your client’s business almost as well as they know it. This way, you are better prepared to connect to their goals and influence them to action. Lastly, I encourage everyone to think about what you want your brand to be and align your actions, education, and experience accordingly both personally and professionally.”  

Erin: “Fresh out of college, I was referred to Schneider by a former professor. I was green and knew nothing about energy. Eighteen years later, it’s the culture and the great work we do for our clients that keep me here.”

“My advice for women joining the industry is to just take the first step. This business is constantly evolving and there are always new ways for us to serve, grow, and develop. Your day-one job doesn’t define your career. Just get in where you can and explore from there. Don’t hesitate to blaze your own trails…many of our current jobs didn’t exist 5-10 years ago!”

Laura: “I left a leadership role at one of the largest global pizza chains to join Schneider Electric 10 years ago. Back then, I had a limited understanding of what sustainability meant beyond basic recycling and some Meatless Mondays. As I’ve more deeply immersed myself in sustainability, my passion for the topic has grown in line with my learning. It must sound cliché, but it’s true – my work makes a positive difference for the planet that we share, and this is what motivates me every day.”  

“My advice to women entering the industry is to seek out opportunities to take a seat at the table and, when you do, have the courage to make your voice heard. Also, be intentional with the networks that you build, as well as the allies and mentors who can help you grow in your career.”

Erin, Laura, and Tammy are a testament to the fact that extensive industry experience is not a prerequisite to forging a successful career in sustainability. Both Tammy and Erin came into the field early in their careers and allowed themselves to grow and develop as they built skills and networks in this industry. And for Laura, a mid-career pivot brought her to a newfound passion. These women, who are now leading large teams and innovative initiatives at Schneider, encourage women interested in sustainability to find their purpose, get their foot in the door, and dive in fearlessly.

Other women we spoke with, including Candace Becker, Client Development Manager, and Valerie Choy, Senior Manager Sustainability Business, made an intentional change to come into the sustainability industry:

Candace: “Years ago, I wanted to change my career and mapped out potential options. Sustainability was interesting and challenging. At Schneider, I found a career that positively impacted the planet and was ever-evolving, which meant it would be fulfilling.”

“I recommend women take the time to look at multiple paths to determine what resonates the most. There are numerous career paths and a plethora of roles; you can work in the non-profit sector, work for a corporate sustainability team, provide consulting services to various clients, or even work for a renewable energy developer.”

Valerie: “I majored in Chemical Engineering and witnessed many of my peers going into Oil & Gas careers, but that path never held any appeal for me. A desire to do something impactful at work combined with the proverbial turning of the winds with clean energy led me into a career in clean energy and sustainability, and I haven’t looked back!”

“I would advise women entering the industry to look for mentors. These mentors can take the form of industry leaders, supervisors, or even co-workers. It’s important, especially for women, to have this support network as they navigate the dynamic and ever-changing landscape in the industry.”

Whether by chance or by decision, the women in the Sustainability Business all recognized that this industry and culture are special. Christin Redmond, Global Commodity Analyst, and Juliette Medana, South Europe Energy Supply & Sustainability Services Director, perfectly capture the vital importance for women to follow their dreams and join us in changing the world: 

Christin: “I love the energy industry because it’s dynamic and meaningful; it is at the core of developing a better, cleaner future for the world. My advice for women is to be curious. We’re trying to solve extremely complex problems in tackling the climate crisis and to solve complex problems we need nuanced creative solutions. Always question things and dig deeper. Always strive for excellence. The world needs more people who care deeply and refuse to give anything less than their best.”

Juliette: Through my experience, I have realized that climate change is an emergency that I wanted to contribute to solving and I took the opportunity to grow and expand in Schneider’s sustainability business 

"I would advise women entering the domain to be an entrepreneur. Sustainability is a complex challenge and requires massive action and innovation in all segments. We cannot rely on others to find solutions. We must build the solutions ourselves, start somewhere, and continue to learn and progress.” 

Why is gender parity critical in solving the climate crisis?

Women have historically been underrepresented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields of work. However, the influence women can have in these industries is enormous. Women in leadership positions in sustainability are a powerful force for change and bring the diversity of perspectives and empathy needed to succeed.

As Erin put it, “The climate crisis impacts the entire human race. If we don’t incorporate the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of our mothers, wives, and daughters — we’re undoubtedly going to miss the mark. True innovation requires the consideration of varying perspectives at all levels

Lisa Zembrodt, Director of Operations – Australia Energy Markets, adds that “Without addressing the outcomes of women and children, our actions to mitigate or adapt to climate change will fall short.”

Sustainable development must leave no one behind. Whether in the corporate world, in developing countries, or when considering the welfare of future generations, addressing the needs of women, and making sure women’s voices are heard is essential to solving the climate crisis.

Lisa: “Women and children are disproportionately impacted by climate change; 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, according to the UN. Women are primary caregivers in many countries around the world and thus their outcomes are tied to the outcomes of children. Women and children’s outcomes must top the list for evaluating any proposed actions to mitigate or adapt. As we know from the sustainable development goals (SDGs), to enable gender parity, we need to ensure women have access to education, energy, food, and clean water. These are all intrinsically linked with development; we cannot advance our societies if women are not on equal footing.”

Which women in sustainability inspire you?

You don’t need to look far to find inspiring women in sustainability. While all the women who we spoke to for this piece are inspirational figures themselves, understanding who they are inspired by gives women entering the industry even more to strive for and fuels the passion for sustainability.

Some of the women at Schneider find inspiration from women outside of our direct line of work, in the energy and corporate sustainability space:

Valerie: “Dr. Jane Goodall inspires me because she has gone through and witnessed a lot of pain, doubt, and the dark side of humanity throughout her career and personal life. Yet, she remains hopeful for the future and continues advocating for sustainability and conservation well into her eighties. We can all learn from her resilience, work ethic, and optimism in the face of the most daunting challenges.”

Lisa: “There are many global and local inspirations, but I’m particularly inspired by Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She holds one of the most important and influential posts in helping the world understand the impact of climate change and implementing the Paris Agreement. She’s also a gender equality and human rights advocate, two things proven to be critical in sustainable development.”

Some women find inspiration from women in adjacent and partnering organizations:

Christin: “Misti Groves, current VP of Market & Policy Innovation at CEBA (and former Schneider Electric Employee), inspires me. I once attended a lunch-and-learn where she told her story of how she came from humble beginnings but ended up attending some of the top universities and rising to top positions at multiple sustainability-focused companies. She’s passionate, driven, and caring.”

“I think what inspires me most is how she’s had the courage to make difficult decisions in her life to stay true to herself and do what’s best for her and her family, decisions ranging from moving to Mexico, to changing companies, to taking a couple of years off to focus on family.”

And other women find inspiration right here, within our Sustainability Business family:

Laura: “In a company like Schneider Electric, it’s not hard to find a trail-blazing, inspirational woman who is spreading the good word about sustainability. There are many who are doing this work – the hard work - to make sure that our clients are on the right path to net-zero or other ambitions aligned with climate science.” 

“One individual that stands out to me as an inspiration is Amy Haddon, VP of Global Content Marketing and Communication Services. Not only does Amy have a deep understanding of all facets of sustainability, but she is also a true activist – “walking the talk” in her personal life. I’ve learned so much from Amy over the time we’ve worked together and found that her passion, insight, and thought partnership have made me better at my job and helped us to advance on our mission as an impact company.”    

Erin: “I’m terribly fortunate to work with countless brilliant women in the sustainability space from colleagues to clients. I’m routinely inspired by Jessica Kipper, Director of Software Product Management. Jessica is truly the mother of our Ecostruxure™ Resource Advisor. She’s been involved from day one and continues to shape the product message on a global scale nearly 20 years later. Jessica challenges the status quo in a constructive and approachable way. Her unwavering positive attitude is contagious in business and in life.  A true trailblazer and mentor to many!”

Join the women of Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business

Feeling inspired? There are endless opportunities in the sustainability industry for women to get involved. And right here at Schneider, we have hundreds of job openings just waiting for the next class of brilliant, passionate women to join us.

Click here to explore the open roles and see if a career in sustainability at Schneider Electric is the next move for you!

We also have a strong set of goals as a global corporation to ensure our work environment is equitable and supportive of every woman’s unique career path:

  • By 2025, we want women to represent 50% of all new hires, 40% of frontline managers, and 30% of senior leadership.
  • By 2025, we are committed to reaching and maintaining a pay gap below 1% for women and men.
  • In 2021, Schneider Electric passed a gender-diversity milestone as women now make up 44% of our Executive Committee. More generally, our inclusive policies support gender equity by enabling women and men to manage their unique life and work: Global Family Leave, Flexibility at Work, and our new returnship program, just to name a few.

Join us on Facebook Watch for World Woman Hour at 1 pm EST on Tuesday, March 8, or on-demand after the fact. During this event, women leaders from the world of energy will share their stories to inspire young women and girls to persevere with their personal and professional aspirations.