Profiling Women in Clean Energy: Marijia Petkovic
Welcome to the EP.01 of Profiling Women in Clean Energy! In this episode, we sit down with Marijia Petkovic, Founder and Managing Director of Energy Synapse, to discuss her inspiring journey towards accelerating Australia's clean energy transitions.
Who is Marijia Petkovic
Ms. Marija is the Founder and Managing Director of Energy Synapse, a company whose mission is to help drive the transition to clean energy by giving organizations the data and insights they need to make informed decisions.
Q: How did you get into the Renewable Energy industry?
A: Throughout my entire career, I have been working in the energy industry. During my university years, I completed a thesis on the potential use of battery storage in wind farms in South Australia, long before the technology was even available. However, what truly sparked my interest in this field was recognizing early on the significant challenge that human civilization would face during my lifetime. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the solution to this challenge.
Q: Please tell us about Energy Synapse - I understand from your experience that you started out as an engineer, what made you want to go on to become an entrepreneur?
A: Prior to founding Energy Synapse, I gained valuable experience working in the corporate world. However, as time passed, I realized that I wanted to have a greater impact in the clean energy transition, and that I could achieve this more effectively by striking out on my own. The corporate world can often move at a slow pace, bogged down by politics and bureaucracy. I am driven by seeing tangible, on-the-ground impact from my work, and wanted to prioritize making a difference in the clean energy sector.
Q: What motivates you to get up every morning and get down to work?
A: While I may not be the type of person who gets up at 4am, I also don't consider myself someone who lacks drive. Instead, I believe that I fall somewhere in the middle, with a healthy balance of determination and practicality.
What inspires me most about working in the clean energy industry is the sense of purpose that comes with it. I wake up every day with a clear understanding that my work is contributing to the largest transformation in the history of the energy system. Being a part of this movement is incredibly fulfilling, and I am always eager to see how I can make a positive impact on a daily basis.
Q: What are the biggest obstacles and difficulties you have encountered in your career?
A: Throughout my career, I have faced various challenges that have required me to evolve and grow. Early on, I struggled with advocating for myself, particularly when it came to promotions and pay raises. This is a common challenge for many women, as we are often socialized to be less aggressive and more accommodating. As an entrepreneur, I have also faced the challenge of navigating a startup culture that can feel dominated by what I call the "bro culture". It can be isolating to forge your own path, but I am determined to succeed and make my mark in the industry. Despite the obstacles, I remain focused and committed to growing and evolving both personally and professionally.
Q: What does the clean energy industry need to do to improve its track record of encouraging and nurturing diverse talent?
A: In a recent AIE young energy professionals’ event for women in energy, the speaker was impressed with the talent and potential of the young women in the industry. However, to truly harness this talent and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, organizations need to take action by having visible women in leadership positions. This is important for attracting emerging talent, as individuals are more likely to see themselves in an organization that promotes and supports diversity. It's essential to look for companies with a track record of promoting women, as this creates an environment that opens doors for top talent.
Q: Which women role model do you admire most?
A: During a recent discussion on women in the energy sector, two exceptional women were highlighted for their achievements and impact on the industry. Katherine McConnell, the founder and CEO of energy retailer Brighte, was recognized as a successful female entrepreneur and inspiration to others in the sector. Brighte has achieved significant growth and success in the Australian energy market. Stephanie Berkshire, who runs the consultancy firm Nixon Advisory, was praised for her expertise in energy regulation and her efforts to promote positive reforms while blocking harmful ones. It was noted that Stephanie has had a massive impact on the sector and is seen as a leader in this area. Both women serve as excellent examples of successful and influential women in the energy sector.
The Profiling Women in Clean Energy program showcases exceptional women who are driving the transition towards cleaner energy sources.