Brunel's Nathália Starck - Regional Driver and Strategic Manager, Renewable Energy, Americas - is continuing her series of interviews spotlighting inspiring, powerful women within the Renewable Energy industry. Nathália has spent her career advocating for diversity and equity in the industry and was very excited to get to highlight the women blazing trails in the industry today.
This interview contains brief excerpts of 3 separate interviews with women in Senior Leadership for Spark Power: April Currey, Najlaa Rauf, and Suha Jethalal.
Meet the Interviewer - Nathália Starck
Nathália Starck is the Regional Driver and Strategic Manager for Renewable Energy at Brunel. Over her more than 15 years in the industry Nathália has built an impressive reputation for herself working in recruitment and sales in just about any industry you can name. Her broad industry experience has given her a valuable, unique perspective on how all the pieces of the economy come together and affect the renewable energy industry that is revered among both her clients and her peers.
Meet April Currey
April is Spark Power’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing with over 16 years of experience overseeing sales, marketing, and market intelligence initiatives, including significant experience with sector innovation projects focused on providing customers with more choices to manage electricity. She is responsible for leading the commercial strategy for the organization.
Meet Najlaa Rauf
Najlaa is Spark Power’s Vice President of People & Culture (Human Resources) with over 10 years of experience in employee engagement, human resources, and leadership development in non-profit, education and electrical contracting services. She is responsible for leading the organization in the areas of culture, and talent attraction, retention, and development.
Meet Suha Jethalal
Suha is Spark Power’s Vice President, Sustainability and President of the organization’s sustainability division, Bullfrog Power. She brings deep expertise in strategy, product and brand management, social entrepreneurism, and sustainability.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the Renewable Energy sector?
I was thinking about starting a family with my husband at that time. And so I wanted to work at a company that would offer flexibility and a very small engineering firm offered that. At the time I really knew nothing about the energy space. I didn't even know what a kWh was, if I'm honest. I was coming from a world of entertainment and consumer products that was completely different and so the learning curve for energy, at first, seemed quite daunting. I think what I came to learn is that, like anything else, if you spend enough time and you study it, and you surround yourself with really great people they will help you along the way. I spent about 8 years at that firm and in that time, I learned so much about the energy space, about renewables, about metering, just about the changes that we're all facing, and where the industry is going and it really inspired me to want to continue my career in the energy space.April Currey - VP, Sales & Marketing - Spark Power
It opened a whole new world of understanding for me on how energy works and how we can have an impact on our world and ensuring that everybody has access to the right kinds of energy.Najlaa Rauf - VP, People & Culture - Spark Power
I didn’t! I just wanted to surround myself by great people and do meaningful work. I met Tom Heintzman, one of Bullfrog’s founders, who inspired me to join the team. Since then, I’ve found great satisfaction in advancing renewable energy in Canada.Suha Jethalal - VP, Sustainability - Spark Power
What are the main challenges you have faced in your career, and what were the strategies to overcome them?
In the energy companies I have worked at, a lot of the focus has been on technical services or engineering work, which are traditionally roles that have been held by men. So a lot of my career I've spent challenging the status quo and trying to earn a seat at the table, not just for myself as a woman, but also for my discipline. I want to help people understand that marketing in general isn't just about making things look nice. It really is about understanding how the customer is impacted and how to move a business forward.April Currey - VP, Sales & Marketing - Spark Power
At every stage of your career, when you start to feel that you're hitting a wall, you really need to take the time and reflect and try to take as much ownership as you can to make change happen for yourself. I think, as someone who really had to focus on what it is that I was looking for in my next step, I had to take a step back and then think about the things that were no longer serving me. Then I had to think about am I talking to the right people and am I having those conversations? Am I putting my hand up to say I'd like to be considered for opportunities? Am I asking for the feedback? You should always always make time for yourself and always make time to take that step forward and put your hand up.Najlaa Rauf - VP, People & Culture - Spark Power
Sustaining balance – through different chapters of your life, there are different pulls, such as study, hard work, family, children, and more. You have to continuously reflect on priorities and be conscious of your shifts in focus, lining up your expectations accordingly. For instance, I went back to work full time after having my first daughter, Kareena. However, after I had my second, Kaeya, I realized I wanted more time with my daughters. Though I was nervous to ask at first, I mustered up the courage to approach Bullfrog’s leadership with a proposition to come back part time. They were so supportive, believed in me, so I came back to a Director Marketing role part time for a couple of years before ramping back up to full time. I feel really grateful for those leaders and mentors who believed in me and offered me the flexibility I needed at the time.Suha Jethalal - VP, Sustainability - Spark Power
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Coming up through this industry, I think I really hesitated a lot to do different things or to ask for promotion or to ask for stretch projects because I was afraid. I was afraid of perhaps I'm asking for too much or it's not my place or I need to wait until somebody taps me on the shoulder. What I've learned is that there's no magical tap on the shoulder. You have to put your hand up. You have to say 'here's here's a way I can contribute.'April Currey - VP, Sales & Marketing - Spark Power
Never settle. Find a way to put yourself first. one thing I think as time goes on that one thing that I think that we and you probably feel the same way that we take for granted is health. I think that's a big thing, right. So as you sort of your bones start to creak a little bit and you start to need to get that extra sleep and all that other stuff, I think if you don't have good physical and mental health it makes everything a lot more difficult. So carve out the time to really give yourself that love and give yourself that support. It goes a long way.Najlaa Rauf - VP, People & Culture - Spark Power
Be bold, take the reins. If you’re feeling imposter syndrome, I bet there are others in the room feeling the same, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Always take that coffee. If there’s an opportunity to meet an interesting person, make the time for it! Stay connected to leaders/people who inspire you.Suha Jethalal - VP, Sustainability - Spark Power
Thank you to April Currey, Najlaa Rauf, and Suha Jethalal of Spark Power
Thank you to April, Najlaa and Suha for sitting down with our Nathália Starck to discuss their lives and careers as women in the Renewable Energy industry.
Recognizing and celebrating diverse voices in our industry is an important part of Brunel's Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy which we hope will not only impact our company internally but the energy industry as a whole.