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Women Breaking the Barriers In Energy

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Liana Ault's picture
Energy Innovation Lead- Energy Global Practice Nokia

I have a colorful background in many different industries including  education, finance, service provider, power utility and now  telecommunications vendor.  The  common thread in all my work has...

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During Women’s History Month, Anterix honored the many women who have broken the barrier in the energy industry, paving the way for modern-day energy technologies through their accomplishments. From the first patent for a gas heating furnace to significant discoveries in physics, chemistry, and engineering, women have been – and continue to be – powering the energy industry’s history and future.

In March, Anterix’s webinar series, Industry Insights, featured several trailblazing women whose work is advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

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This panel featured Liana Ault, an Energy Innovation Lead at Nokia. Liana has expanded on her journey in the industry in the blog post below.

For additional insights you can still watch the discussion from March 25th, where Liana Ault joined host Pete Tseronis of Dots and Bridges and 3 female leaders to discuss grid modernization challenges facing the U.S. utility industry and explore industry trends and mission-critical innovations needed in response to an ever-evolving grid.

Watch the Industry Insights Episode “Women Leaders Advancing the Future of Energy” by clicking here.

By Liana Ault Energy Innovation Lead, Nokia

I began working in the energy industry because I wanted to give back. My mother and sisters all worked in the medical profession in one form or another, so it was easy to see the difference they made. When I left my role as an engineer at a service provider in the US and started work at a utility, it was because I saw how I too could make a difference. After all, energy is about keeping people, warm, safe and alive!

My feelings haven’t changed. I’ve found a perfect match for utilities with my role in digital industries and for the past three years as Energy Innovation Lead at Nokia. Life is very energy centric. It powers our transportation. It keeps our homes warm. It makes society possible. Combine that with communications! Wow! Look at this last year during the pandemic, and the difference communications and energy have made in keeping us connected.

Today, I’m responsible for helping power utilities develop communications services to solve challenges and extend their revenue potential – such as how to meet the connectivity needs of underserved communities, or enable new behind the meter services.  We have a chance, right, now, to make a real difference. We are enabling renewables and defining a path to a carbon net zero future using amazing communications platforms.

I believe in lifelong learning and challenging the status quo. Much of my inspiration came from my parents. My dad taught me how to play chess when I was five and talked with me about history and military strategy. My mom went back to school to become a nurse when we were young – I saw how she wanted to provide a better life for us and to make a career for herself. My stepdad also instilled in me the need for an education and asking ‘why not’? He consistently encouraged us to try new things and told me I could do anything that any boy could do.

So, I carried that positivity and drive into my career. While at the service provider, I was the only female network engineer in five states, and even at the utility I was one of only two women in a team of 80. At the interview I was asked if I thought I could do it and I said, “if there’s anything I don’t know – I can learn”. And that’s true for anyone who is starting their career – you will learn as you go!

Now in mid-career, I see more women in tech roles now and I do believe we’ll reach gender parity in STEM. But I don’t think the conversation will stop. Men and women bring different things to the table. We problem solve differently. In fact, it’s not just about gender – it’s about culture, race, values, upbringing – it’s about having a diverse workforce that will allow us to keep debating, adding value and creating solutions  together.

The energy industry is a great place to learn. It’s going through such a transition right now. I would urge any young woman thinking about a career in energy to just go for it! You don’t have to be an engineer - utilities, mining, oil & gas – all these industries have real estate agents, lawyers, comms teams. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your colleagues – you’ll learn so much.

I would also encourage young women to ‘know your worth.’ You only get one shot to set the bar financially when you start with a company. Do your research and don’t sell yourself short.  Often women don’t feel comfortable negotiating, but it is a great skill to develop.  If you’re just starting out, don’t be surprised if your career zig zags. Don’t be afraid to change your path and don’t hang on to any baggage as you move on, or even from one day to the next.

To quote L.M. Montgomery ‘Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet?’

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on May 14, 2021

Liana,

Thanks for this inspiring post!  I love your quote

But I don’t think the conversation will stop. Men and women bring different things to the table. We problem solve differently. In fact, it’s not just about gender – it’s about culture, race, values, upbringing – it’s about having a diverse workforce that will allow us to keep debating, adding value and creating solutions  together.

A diverse work group can bring more to the table for sure!  Men, Wen, and people of all cultures bring a different perspective to how we tackle problems, and together we can create great things!  

I hope to see you in the community again soon! 

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