‘There are no shortcuts to success’

This week, Women in Solar Europe (WiSEu) gives voice to Oana Ijdelea, the founder and managing partner of Romanian law firm Ijdelea & Associates. She says there is no objective blockage impeding women from pursuing a career in the renewable sector. There is, however, a vicious circle where women may become reluctant to apply for a position where males appear to be more present, and on the other hand, the lack of female presence in such roles does not encourage other women to step in.

One may acknowledge that the traditional energy industry has been male-dominated for a long time and may be viewed as an obstacle to gender diversity. While progress has been made in recent years, women are still underrepresented, and they may be reluctant to join such an environment. However, the renewable industry has laid down new opportunities for women. Our sectors are still young and, although there is a certain degree of technical understanding, irrespective of one’s position or job, they offer the opportunity to learn from zero and grow together along with male colleagues rather than in a disadvantageous position due to a lack of experience and role models as it is the case in traditional industries.

The female presence is predominant in Romania’s legal and regulatory landscape. This could be explained probably by the greater patience and appetite to digest and work with details that women tend to have as compared to men. Looking at the challenges and very ambitious targets set in the renewables sector at large, the increase in women’s involvement is welcomed because certain issues can be handled more delicately and with specific feminine firmness, but I strongly believe that an objective demarcation between women and men would not be productive.

I don’t think there is an objective blockage impeding women from pursuing a career in the renewable sector. At a national level in Romania, we don’t spot differences in terms of wages or working hours based on gender. However, men, regardless of the context, will never feel alone at the discussion table, while there are many times when women are indeed alone. There is a vicious circle where women may become reluctant to apply for a position where males appear to be more present, and on the other hand, the lack of female presence in such roles does not encourage other women to step in.

In terms of changes, I think that what should change is the perspective of team leaders. They should be more conscious that the most important resource is “people,” irrespective of whether they are male or female because they constitute the organization that you lead. Leaning toward people, empathy, and communication are indispensable for any functional, albeit high-performing entity, and the responsibility for these elements to coexist will always fall to the one who leads it and, in the end, they make the difference between a leader and a boss. In any environment where empathy and communication are present, women will for sure be more willing to start a career.

I have never perceived the presence of a man to stimulate, animate, or, on the contrary, to inspire fear, even a reverential fear, any more than a woman can do so, and in various situations, I met and worked with men holding all sorts of positions of power. Most of the executives I deal with, who are our clients, are men. I have never perceived their mere presence to set the trajectory of a discussion or of the relationship any more than a woman can. As an entrepreneur, however, I discovered that people, both women and men, treat young people very cautiously. Many of the blockages or challenges that I experienced in the past depended on the fact I was young and not on the fact that I was a woman.

My first project development mandate – a wind farm located in the east of Romania, was an extraordinary ride in all respects: an exotic project for those times in Romania, a complexity of never-before mandates, a unique two-folded learning experience, about the emergent renewables industry, as well as about the depth and length of capabilities and determination, and first and foremost about the importance of being offered a very young age the opportunity to perform and prove myself.

For young people at the beginning of their careers, the most important thing is to understand that fulfillment and success mean different things to each of us. Therefore, each should try to figure out what that means for themselves. Getting to know themselves better will make it easier to set goals in life and focus and sustain efforts to achieve them. Also, something often ignored is that there are no shortcuts to success. Accept that work is inevitable and essential to success. One has to work for the things one wants in life; nothing is for free, even if it sometimes seems to be the case, and nothing stays with you if you don’t know how to keep and take care of what you have.

Oana Ijdelea is the founder and managing partner of Ijdelea & Associates. She is a highly skilled business lawyer with over 17 years of experience in energy and natural resources and related regulatory matters, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and project finance. Throughout her career, Oana successfully managed as a lead lawyer the entire spectrum of legal issues faced by some of Romania’s pioneering energy projects. She routinely advises an international community of clients on the most challenging and strategic matters involving C-suite decision-making related to project development and investment in Romania as well as on exit arrangements, including private equity transactions. Oana is also acknowledged for her substantial contribution to the drafting of legislation regulating a broad range of industries and areas. For over a decade, Oana has successfully led significant advocacy efforts for energy industry associations such as the Romanian Black Sea Titleholders Association (RBSTA) and the Oil & Gas Employers Association (FPPG). In January 2024, Oana was appointed a board member of the Romanian Wind Energy Association (RWEA). She is also an ambassador for the Women in Solar Europe Network. 

Interested in joining Oana Ijdelea and other women industry leaders and experts at Women in Solar Europe? Find out more: www.wiseu.network

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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