WiRE 2016 Review: Going national, polishing up, and targeting meaningful impact!

Making impact was the name of the game for Women in Renewable Energy in 2016. WiRE’s incredible volunteer Advisory Committee was focused on national outreach and programming finesse.  The results are in and it’s happy news across the board: Thanks to our invaluable sponsors and supportive industry partners, WiRE continues to grow in size, market and effect.  

GOING BIG:
WiRE launched new chapters in Ottawa, Montreal Calgary and Edmonton in 2016 and discussions are underway in several other markets to begin local networking meet-ups for women working in the field (or wanting to) in 2017.  Make sure you’re receiving the monthly WiRE newsletter (sign up here) to ensure you are ‘in the know’ about our free meet-ups for women across Canada.

(Left to Right) Joanna Osawe (WiRE Co-founder), Bonnie Hiltz, Government and Regulatory Affairs at ENGIE and winner of the WOTY Award and Rebecca Black (WiRE Co-founder), at APPrO Dinner.

(Left to Right) Joanna Osawe (WiRE Co-founder), Bonnie Hiltz, Government and Regulatory Affairs at ENGIE and winner of the WOTY Award and Rebecca Black (WiRE Co-founder), at APPrO Dinner.

The WiRE Women of Distinction Awards and student bursary program experienced significant leaps in nominations and applications in 2016, reflecting a growing awareness of these opportunities to elevate and celebrate women working in the field, and enable the next generation of energy professionals.  Congratulations to WiRE’s Woman of the Year (WOY), which was awarded to Bonnie Hiltz, Government and Regulatory Affairs at ENGIE, and to bursary winners for the Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA), Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO) and Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) conference in 2016.

WiRE hosted a record number of capacity-building field trips in 2016, including: five groups of industry professionals looking to build their overall knowledge of sector technologies; visiting solar, wind and hydropower generating stations; manufacturing and facilities and power system facilities, receiving in depth technical knowledge and hand’s on access to emerging ideas in power (and lunch!). Registration for WiRE field trips is very affordable and open to anyone interested in adding to their energy knowledge toolkit.

GETTING POLISHED:
In Toronto, WiRE networking meet-ups have taken on a new sophistication thanks to new digs for the 60+ women a month who now attend. Networking events occur on the 3rd Wednesday of most months. Listening to inspiring speakers address their areas of expertise, in a welcoming and informal environment, continues to be the top programming aspect of WiRE’s oeuvre. Thanks to our Toronto meet-up hosts Gowling WLG and KPMG for helping WiRE elevate its game.  

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MAKING IMPACT: 
The big winner in impact programming in 2016 has got to be WiRE Speed Mentoring, which debuted in 2015. At the APPrO conference this year participation grew, as over 20 mentors and 30 students and developing professionals connected to discuss working in the energy sector. WiRE’s speed mentoring program is proving to be a very impactful way for professionals to time-efficiently lend their expertise and guidance to qualified individuals, resulting in actual job placements (7 hires were confirmed from the 2015 debut!) and enthusiastic feedback from participants across the board.  

GIVING THANKS:
WiRE is completely volunteer run, and credit for an action-packed year of growth goes to the outstanding women who form the WiRE Advisory Committee.  Our immeasurable thanks to Jen Aitchison (jones brown inc.), Debbie Ellis (G&W Electric Canada), Brandy Giannetta (Canadian Wind Energy Association), Valerie Kitchell (wpd Canada Corp.), Lisa Oelke (hb solar Canada / Advanced Racking Solutions), Claire Westgate (University of Toronto), Stephanie Landers (Ontario Waterpower Association), Jennifer Manning (NRStor Inc.), Mary Warner (TREC Renewable Energy Co-Operative), and Julia Cushing (AECOM).

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Of course, even volunteer-run organizations cannot function without financial stability.  WiRE salutes our valued 2016 foundation sponsors for their essential funding support: G&W Electric Canada, Survalent Technology, jones brown Inc., NRStor Inc., Gowling WLG, KPMG, EnergeiaWorks and PowerHub.

We are so grateful for our industry association partnerships, and the opportunities they provide for WiRE to engage students and professionals alike.  Our sincerely thanks and appreciation for the fine work done by our industry colleagues at CanWEACanSIAOWAAPPrOEHRC, EDA, PLT, University of Toronto MScMS, Whites Lane Microgrid, Women in Electricity and Woodstock Hydro.

Wishing you all a powerful and prosperous 2017!

Sincerely,
Rebecca Black (Black Current Marketing) & Joanna Osawe (DMC Power)
WiRE Co-Founders & Co-Chairs


WiRE 2015 Review: Growth, engagement and an evolving conversation 

WiRE may be just over two years old, but looking back over 2015, you would be forgiven if you didn’t recognize it as such a young organization.

It’s true - in the past year WiRE programming expanded, participation went up, and our community of engagement grew.  But the most satisfying measure of WiRE’s growth and success is the rapidly maturing conversations and relationships being built between WiRE and our industry colleagues.

Whereas a couple of years ago, volunteers at a WiRE booth were regularly approached with jokes and offhand comments about why our group was relevant, today the conversation has changed measurably.  Booth visitors are expressing a sincere interest in diversifying their workforces and accessing the best talent regardless of gender.  They are looking to WiRE to introduce them to today’s up-and-comers, and connect them to established professionals in the energy sector. Nothing would please us more!

Here’s how we did in 2015:

Our monthly Toronto networking meet-ups engaged a record turnout of over 250 women in 2015. They heard from esteemed speakers on topics of interest to the energy sector, and made new connections in an environment that garners consistently positive feedback for it’s low pressure, intimate format.  WiRE was also excited to see new chapters under development in Montreal and Ottawa, with meet-ups scheduled for Q1 in all three markets.

WiRE field trips have shaped up to be a perennial favourite: open to everyone interested in building their knowledge about energy utilities, technologies and research, about 25% of our participants in 2015 were men working in the sector.  In 2015, WiRE hosted sold-out trips to the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator), Whites Lane MicroGrid (Woodstock Hydro) and 2MW Minto Flywheel System (NRStor).  Join us in 2016 and experience technical presentations, facilities tours, Q&A’s with trip hosts and a networking lunch: our first field trip this year is at Morgan Solar (January 12th - register today).   Thanks to all of our hosts for building professional capacity within the WiRE community.

We are so grateful for our industry association partnerships, and the opportunities they provide for WiRE to engage students and professionals alike.  With thanks to CanWEA, CanSIAOWA and APPrO, we invite you to join us in congratulating these talented students who won student bursaries to attend industry conferences in 2015: Taylor Zhou (University of Toronto), Pallavi Roy (Ryerson University), Priyanka Varshney (London School of Economics), Gouri Barai (Ryerson University), Gail Hayhoe and Fatima Fasih (University of Toronto).

The WiRE recognition program expanded to three annual Woman of Distinction Awards this year, and we could not have been more excited to announce and acknowledge our award recipients in front of their peers at industry galas.  Please join us in honouring our 2015 WiRE Woman of Distinction winners: Michelle Chislett, Vice President & Country Manager, SunEdison (Solar Power); Terry Kwas, Manager, Environment, Health & Safety - Wind, TransAlta (Wind Power); Michelle Branigan, CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada (Woman of the Year).

Another noteworthy new WiRE initiative in 2015 was a speed mentoring event held at the Canadian Power Conference & Networking Centre in association with APPrO and sponsored by NRStor. Students in a relevant field of study to the energy sector had a chance to draw from the experience of accomplished professionals through three 15 minute '2 on 1' mentoring sessions. The 'experiment' drew wide praise from both students and mentors, and two of the student participants were subsequently offered employment by the companies represented by mentors - a great success for a new initiative that will be replicated this year.

WiRE is completely volunteer run, and credit for an action-packed year of growth goes to the outstanding women who form the WiRE Advisory Committee.  Our immeasurable thanks to Jen Aitchison (jones brown inc.), Debbie Ellis (G&W Electric Canada), Brandy Giannetta (Canadian Wind Energy Association), Valerie Kitchell (wpd Canada Corp.), Lisa Oelke (hb solar Canada / Advanced Racking Solutions), Claire Westgate (University of Toronto), Stephanie Landers (Ontario Waterpower Association), Jennifer Manning (NRStor Inc.), Mary Warner (TREC Renewable Energy Co-Operative), Julia Cushing (AECOM).

Of course, even volunteer-run organizations cannot function without financial stability.  WiRE salutes our valued 2015 foundation sponsors for their essential funding support: G&W Electric Canada, Survalent Technology, jones brown Inc., NRStor Inc., and SunEdison Canada.

Wishing you a prosperous 2016!
Sincerely,
Rebecca Black (Black Current Marketing) & Joanna Osawe (DMC Power)
WiRE Co-Founders & Co-Chairs