London, 16 February 2023
IWD 2023: Meet the women of Reactive
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD is also a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political, scientific and technology arenas. With a number of women working across various departments at Reactive, we wanted to take this opportunity to speak with some of our colleagues about their experience as well as their advice for other women looking to kickstart their careers in cleantech.
Meet the women of Reactive who are working to help make our Net Zero future possible today.
Tell us about your role at Reactive
I am the Global Head of Commercial at Reactive. My job is to help Reactive to scale. In the past I have focused on executing particular projects or deals, like negotiating the demand side response contract with Carrefour, delivering project SIM or getting the National Grid contract over the line. Now, my job is to help us do that many times, as efficiently and profitably as possible. Being part of the energy transition motivates me to be successful.
Have you had any challenges in your career and how have you overcome them?
As it’s International Women’s Day, the topic of gender equality is at the front of my mind. My experience of the renewable energy industry and Reactive is that there are some women on the way up in organisations. Once you get to senior, executive and board level, they start to become much less common. For example, in the last 15 years, I have had just 2 women more senior than me in the organisations I have worked in, Catherine (former Reactive CFO) being one of them. It makes me wonder why so few women make it to the top of organisations. The challenge for me is to stay motivated and engaged with the industry when I experience all male leadership teams replicating themselves time and again.
On recruitment, I have missed out on opportunities due to closed recruitment processes. This is where someone is tapped on the shoulder for a role rather than there being equal access to the opportunity. Participating in a process is a chance to raise your profile and learn which are important for development and career progression, regardless of the outcome. Closed recruitment processes disadvantage women and minority groups disproportionately.
Over the years, I have experienced some of the classics like being underestimated, being a source of curiosity, being a voice for all women etc. Navigating these challenges is tiresome but it builds resilience.
How has RTL supported you with flexible working and what effect has it had on your life?
RTL has always been a flexible employer which I value very highly. It has allowed me to do all sorts of things in my life. In my early days working full-time at Reactive, I lived part time in Germany and part time in London. I extended my honeymoon by a month because I could work from Italy for a few weeks at the end. My family is in Ireland and flexible working has allowed me to spend more time with them for birthdays, Christmas and summer holidays. These experiences are amongst the most important ones in life.
The flexibility is most valuable to me right now, since coming back from adoption leave in January. First of all, Reactive has a wonderful adoption leave policy which enabled me to take 12 months out last year. I have come back to work at 3 days a week which gives me and my family the opportunity to make a significant transition gradually. Being able to work from home allows me to walk to school with the boys in the morning and be at my desk at 9. Without this flexibility I don’t believe I would be in a position to return to work right now. So, this is really significant for me and my family financially, emotionally and professionally.
How do you think we can encourage more women to join the tech industry
Flexible working is a great draw for anyone in the tech industry. Social norms are changing dramatically at the moment as people re-evaluate how they define success and how they prioritise work, family and lifestyle. By mirroring these shifting trends in its employment style and working culture the tech industry can ensure it is an attractive place to work for everyone. Leaders in the industry need to reflect on the gender gap, what their role is in perpetuating it and what they can do to be part of the change that in the end will benefit their businesses significantly.
Tell us about your role at Reactive
I joined RTL in December 2022 as a Finance Manager with my main role objective being to expand the reporting capabilities of the Finance team to help guide the business through our next growth phase. Since my start, I’ve helped to deliver a smooth implementation of NetSuite with a focus on accurate monthly actuals reporting. I will also be developing a planning and budgeting tool in NetSuite to enable smooth forecasting and budgeting process in the future. Currently I am heavily involved in a Business Plan finalization.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
A finance manager gets a good overview of a business from the inside out and can make a real difference to the company’s success. Being part of influencing business decisions and seeing a business flourish is extremely rewarding.
Have you experienced any challenges working as a woman in the tech industry?
I have 10+ years working in finance in male dominated industries (environmental services and the tech industry) and I have seen massive progress over the last few years with various initiatives being taken by organisations on a global scale to support and promote women within predominantly male environments. However, the structural issues still exist including resources and policies, gender biases and stereotypes and overall workplace culture at some companies which can stop women from realising their full potential and progressing further in their careers. When women work in non-traditional roles, it’s still seen as something of a novelty and there might be a lack of support available to them, but I believe we are heading in the right direction.
Do you have any advice for other women looking to join the tech industry?
Do it, and love it, if you’re drawn to it. Be passionate in what you do and have confidence in yourself and your skills. Keep an open mind and never stop learning. Try not to think about being a woman too much, but rather, try to be the best person you can be period. Find places to work where it’s a true meritocracy, places that value diversity. Where what you look like doesn’t matter, but rather what you bring to the mission every day.
I would give the same advice to everyone regardless of their sex.