Women in Energy Tea Talk with Tatiana Mitrova – 22 March 2019
Women in Energy Tea Talk with Sophie Meritet – 21 November 2018
Women in Energy Tea Talk with Tatiana Mitrova – 27 April 2018
Towards the end of the semester, we were happy to host another Women in Energy Tea Talk, with cookies, carrots, tea and coffee. Dr. Tatiana Mitrova joined us, our Professor of the ‘Energy in Russia and FSU’ class at Sciences Po!
She started by telling us how she began her research career in the gas sector while raising two sons. Today, she is constantly travelling between Moscow, British Colombia in New York, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Paris and Riyadh. She is proud to direct the Energy Center of Skolkovo in Moscow, currently the only independent platform in Russia for energy research.
As a woman, it was not an obstacle for her to work in Russia, as in Soviet Union women were obliged to work. The main difficulty laid in being a female manager of a big team. Nevertheless, Tatiana said she could overcome this obstacle as she was always very excited and sure about the conclusions of her research. Others could then feel that she is very confident in her areas of expertise and started giving her credit for her work.
It was inspiring to hear from such a successful female professional that she is aware of the trade-offs between her career and private life, but that her family supports her precisely because she fully thrives in her professional role.
Dr. Tatiana Mitrova shared many pieces of advice with us, all of them based on her experience:
- Don’t refuse to speak at conferences, even if you are the last speaker of the day.
- It is very efficient to build a model, not necessarily in terms of the results, but in order to understand the correlations. You really learn the subject through a model and you start to get a feeling for the system.
- Build relations. Don’t be shy to communicate, there is no limit in terms of age or positions. The barriers are in your mind.
- Use your own initiative to propose subjects or projects. If you are inspired by a topic, people are ready to support you and your idea will automatically start to grow around you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Let your knowledge grow through interviews with experts and ask questions to get insights into complex topics from many different angles.
Thank you for sharing your story and for your advice around a nice cup of tea!
Women in Energy Tea Talk with Sara Pasquier and Eleanor Morrison – 5 April 2018
Another Tea Talk Success! On April 5th the Women in Energy Initiative hosted its second Tea Talk of the semester with two entrepreneurial women in the energy industry: Eleanor Morrison and Sara Pasquier. Both women teach energy courses at Sciences Po so this was a wonderful opportunity for students to interact with the professors beyond the classroom.
Both guest speakers were very open to share personal experiences of their diverse career paths and gave lots of valuable examples about how far self confidence goes in achieving professional goals, especially regarding the infamous gender pay gap.
As the end of the semester approaches and internships start dates are around the corner, our attendees had some questions about landing the first internship and how to overcome network barriers. Eleanor and Sara highlighted the importance of finding a personal connection to companies and positions of interest and some do’s and don’ts of reaching out to new contacts. Do ask for a professional interview over the phone (as it is the most time convenient for professionals) and don’t send long and wordy emails (I imagine a few of us are guilty of this!).
On the topic of networking, one student asked an important question about the role of gender in networking. Our guests speakers found that the most likely challenge to overcome is the potential awkwardness of asking to meet with your boss (of the opposite gender) for a drink. Women are less likely to ask their male boss for an after-work drink than their male colleagues and men face this challenge when it regards a female superior. Our guests’ advice? Your colleagues are networking, so if you aren’t putting yourself out there you’re losing out. And there are ways to do this without risking awkward or uncomfortable situations: meeting during work hours such as coffee or lunch; group drinks and dinners; sports.
Finally, two pieces of parting advice from our guests:
- Treat the internship search like a project: put into it what you want to get out of it
- Networking is key and if you make contacts, keep in touch so they remember you!
This tea talk was not only a great chance to get some insight into our guests’ career path but also to interact in an informal setting (with yummy treats!) with professionals and fellow students through questions and discussion. Thank you to all who came!
Women in Energy Tea Talk with Dagmar Graczyk and Nadine Bret-Rouzaut – 22 February 2018
It was a pleasure to meet and exchange with professors Graczyk & Bret-Rouzaut a few weeks ago on the challenges in working for the energy industry which was almost closed to women and is still mostly dominated by men.
Prof. Graczyk and Bret-Rouzaut at the Women in Energy Tea Talk, Feb 2018
Our discussion was especially fruitful since the two professors had complimentary backgrounds and experience. Professor Graczyk has an economics background and entered the energy sector not by choice but by chance during her time at the Asian Development Bank. She now holds a senior position at the International Energy Agency. Professor Bret-Rouzaut is originally an engineer and the first women to study at the IFP (Institut Français du Pétrole) school. Unfortunately, it was impossible for her to find work as a woman in this field, so she was forced to study business to be able to find a job. Before going back to the IFP as part of the school’s administration, she spent some time in the public sector working for the Ministry.
Both women agree that the industry is changing, although their integration into it was rather difficult.
Another topic that was discussed is the balance between professional and personal lives, which is especially difficult when travelling and having children.
The discussion was vivid and enriching and all the students present benefited greatly from this opportunity. The Women in Energy Initiative is looking forward to welcoming these fantastic women again at future events!
Teatime with the Energy Faculty – February 2017
On 22nd February, WIEI threw a teatime party with (homemade!) cakes, cookies, tea and coffee to share an afternoon with three of our fab female professors here at Sciences Po.
We are lucky enough to have a wealth of highly experienced energy professionals as teachers, from a large variety of background, and it was incredibly valuable to hear their stories and the tips and advice they would have given their 20-something selves. It was particularly interesting too to hear how their experiences interacted with each other, and finding the common ground and different opportunities they had found in their various industries. With so much to discuss, we talked for far longer than the 1 hour set aside for the event!
Nadine Bret-Rouzaut is currently Director at the Center of Economics & Management, considering Energy Business & Environment, and was originally a geophysics student – and one of the first female geophysicists in France!
Valerie Faudon is Executive Director, Société Française d’Energie Nucléaire and previously held top marketing positions at HP, Alcatel-Lucent and Areva.
Eleanor Morrison worked as Vice President of Energy Trading at Goldman Sachs and was the Senior Vice President of Commodities Trading at Lehman Brothers, she founded her own company, Commodity Reach.
It was a very insightful panel, and we talked on a wide range of topics….
Some women don’t seem to care about things they see as ‘small’, but which act as big signals in the eyes of coworkers. ‘Don’t take minutes for the meeting!’ advised the panel, ‘If it was your turn last time as the lady in the room…well, let them know it needs to be someone else this time.’
Even if you aren’t after cars or corner offices, you need to get these anyway, to make the right signals and show you are a professional who knows their worth.
2) Battling assumptions
One panellist shared an interesting point, sharing that sometimes even after years working in a university context, students assumed she was an assistant, rather than a professor. ‘You need to speak out!’ she said, to remind people that they have to change their assumptions – as otherwise these remain ingrained.
3) Get a champion
The speakers were strong in their belief in the power of personal coaching, and encouraged us to seek it outside of work. Find a mentor who is not in your company, but outside. Even paying for 1 hour per month of coaching can be really helpful – all the senior management and CEOs have them, and they can stick with you throughout a career of 30-40 years!
4) And when you’re stuck…?
When you see you’re stuck – move on! Look for another company and another role. If things are overly hard at work for you because of gender issues, the panel recommended that getting out was the best decision. ‘You have to be your strongest self’ in these situations, said Eleanor, and ‘you have to have confidence and persevere.’
5) Taking the top job
One panellist told us about women’s fears of applying for jobs they won’t get. ‘The worst thing I’ve done is not apply to jobs, or aim lower than I could. Sometimes applicants think that their application is not good enough and would not be taken seriously. But why would people laugh at you if you applied? That’s bizarre.’
Advice looking forward:
Valerie: ‘The more you can project yourself in a way that is authentic, the better. You will find your style and don’t panic about it.’
Eleanor: ‘More interviews = more experience, and add your interviewers on Linkedin.’
Nadine: ‘Get to know yourself really well, so you are always conscious of your fears, and your power.’
Thank you so much ladies! We loved hearing your words of wisdom.