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‘Women are clearly underrepresented in this industry both in decision making and especially in technical areas’

Clean Power Africa

Carole Rosenlund

Interview with Carole Rosenlund, Project Manager, ICH – International Centre for Hydropower, Trondheim, Norway. Carole is a speaker and panelist in the Clean Power Africa conference closing session on: “Human capital development and retention in Clean Energy”.

Can you give us some background in terms of your position at the ICH with regards to skills management etc.
As project manager I have the responsibility to front ICH’s vision of transferring knowledge by arranging courses, seminars, workshops and tailor-made programmes for professionals in the energy sector. The role of ICH is to be a service organization to the sector and promote the industry in general as well as raise the skills of industry personnel through capacity building. ICH’s focus is on gathering, developing and making available knowledge on environmental and social, technological, economic and regulatory aspects of energy supply/hydropower. Knowledge transfer is necessary and courses and workshops are an effective way to transmit such knowledge. In the effort to promote the skills of industry personnel ICH has developed a portfolio of courses spanning more or less the whole range of issues in the planning, design and operation phases in the hydropower sector. These programmes also contain distant learning courses and combined distant learning with physical gathering courses. Our programmes are offered on an annual or biannual basis, in Norway or in cooperation with a partner organization in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. ICH cooperates with its member organizations in developing countries; as an example, ICH has established an ongoing cooperation with Kafue Gorge Regional Training Center in Zambia and Hydro Lab in Nepal. These centers have good infrastructure and are conveniently located in important regions with large needs for capacity building.

What are the challenges in Africa with regards to talent management within utilities?
This is not only a challenge in Africa but in the energy sector globally and across other industries too. Talent management strategies are not well implemented – yet. It is still the norm that managing human capacity is the HR’s responsibility, and departmental managers and top leaders have not engaged fully to drive this process forward. Without back-up from the top leaders, talent management cannot be implemented successfully. The energy sector like other industries is prone to globalization effects and the changing landscape of growing energy demands, climate change, dynamic competitive markets, and rapid technology transformations; and therefore needs to take a holistic view of talent management, integrating it as a fundamental element of business strategies and plans.  Talent is valuable to the sector but currently in short supply and also expensive to replace.

Various studies on human capacity management have cited utilities as still being in the infancy stages of realizing sustainable talent management and with that continue to face challenges in meeting the demand for skills to enable the sector to operate to its full potential.

Any projects that you have been involved with that you can report back on in terms of skills and talent management?  Success stories, lessons learnt etc.
ICH is very active in Africa and we have been part of delivering various independent programmes as well as tailor-made courses which have benefited individuals and utilities together. We have a policy of evaluating and re-evaluating all our programmes and the general consensus is that these training packages have had a positive impact. Our biggest success story is of course our alumni who have taken the knowledge acquired and utilized it back in their respective countries. Knowledge is Power – and the effect of these courses has been visible when we have met with former participants whose careers have been boosted as a result. We have observed and documented a notable increase in the skills of professionals from the developing countries, putting them on par with well advanced international colleagues in the west. This demonstrates that well equipped and skilled personnel are also cost and time effective to utilities in that they do not have to rely on the expertise of expensive specialist from the west for services. These courses, seminars, workshops and conferences contribute greatly to the positive development of the economies of participants’ countries where their own energy resources can be exploited in a sustainable manner.

What surprises you about this industry?

Over the years it has come to our attention and been our experience that some qualified female applicants selected to attend ICH training courses have unfortunately been overlooked by their superiors and a male colleague has been considered for the training opportunity instead of them. It is tremendously disheartening that in this day and age such practices still exist.

Women are clearly underrepresented in this industry both in decision making and especially in technical areas. ICH is actively highlighting the inclusion and active participation of women in the electricity sector by having female participants and facilitators on our programmes, both regional and international. There is evidence that women’s’ roles in energy projects and programmes have benefited society in many ways. Women’s involvement in the sector is vital and they should be considered as equal players. Leaders should give full support for unconditional participation of women in training programmes and consideration for career advancement on the same merits as their male colleagues.

What will be your message at Clean Power Africa?
Talent management must be aligned to utility objectives and integrated as a fundamental element of business strategies and plans. These go hand in hand and have become an imperative of business. Senior managers should coordinate this together with HR. Talent is scarce and valuable, and utilities should aim to retain key performers by investing further in their skills development and future roles within the organization. I believe that good leaders need to ensure that the skilled personnel are empowered to do their job without micro managing them. A manager’s role is to facilitate the work environment, maximize the utilization of the skills employed and ensure that these are deployed and developed appropriately. We at ICH are working with utilities to help identify further training and development needs of key industry personnel. Engaging and empowering employees improves productivity, increases moral and creates job satisfaction. This is a precursor to talent retention which is after all the sole purpose of talent management and key to utility success. Wherever human capacity management is limited, development is almost certainly constrained.

What are you most looking forward to in terms of the event?
I am looking forward to networking and make new contacts. Most of all I am interested to engage in discussions around training needs, since we (ICH) are constantly looking to expand our course portfolio and in that be of assistance to the sector. This is also an opportunity to learn from other delegates first hand on the continent’s energy trends and issues.