Professor Izael Da Silva is a renewable energy specialist with over 20 years of experience in research and academic leadership. He holds a PhD and a Master of Science (MSc) in Electrical Engineering, with a specialisation in Power Systems, from the University of Sao Paulo, as well as a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Electrical Engineering, with a specialisation in Power Systems and Telecommunications, from the Federal University of Parana. He has worked on research projects with government ministries, development agencies (like GIZ, Sida, The World Bank) and industry stakeholders (within and outside Africa).
This interview was originally published in African Power & Energy Elites 2021.
WHAT INDUSTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE POWER AND ENERGY SECTOR ARE YOU LOOKING AT FOR INSPIRATION?
I love coaching and mentoring, with a keen interest in philosophy, anthropology, critical thinking and other similar areas. At Strathmore University I have a list of about ten people whom I mentor and I speak once or twice each semester. Having run seven full marathons, I am a fitness freak who keeps checking the average speed of a five- or ten-kilometer race on my fitness tracker.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH UNCERTAINTY AS A LEADER IN A TIME WHERE LEADERSHIP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER?
The first rule of leadership when facing uncertainty is to “Accept Reality”. Every day things happen to us. Some are good, others are neutral, and some are bad. Accept them all. This is your raw material to achieve your success. Wishful thinking is a waste of time. For example, last year and even now, we have the COVID-19 pandemic with all its consequences. I accept COVID-19 and ask: how can COVID-19 make me a better person and how can COVID-19 help me to help other people? If because of COVID-19 I acquire some virtues and avoid some vices and if on top of it all I become more charitable and make people’s lives better, COVID-19 has done good to me!