In the first instalment of a new series, EcoGeneration shines a spotlight on women in renewables who are championing diversity in the clean energy industry. Meet Aurore Pont, operations manager, Clenergy Australia, and co-chair, Clean Energy Council’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Working Group.

Having moved from France to Australia in 2008, Aurore Pont fell into the renewables space by chance rather than through a planned career pathway. However, since becoming entrenched in the industry, there has been no turning back for the operations manager at solar supplier Clenergy Australia in Melbourne, Victoria.

“My partner at the time was a solar installer and he heard about a job opportunity at [construction engineering company] Service Stream which was installing residential solar systems for Origin Energy,” Pont tells EcoGeneration.

“On my first day I had no idea it was going to be the start of more than a decade of work in the industry. Six months after starting, a position opened up at Clenergy and I’ve been here more than 10 years.”

Through a variety of positions across all layers of the organisation, Pont boasts a wealth of experience in her current role for a company that started small in Australia but has enjoyed rapid growth.

“I have worked through all the uncertainty of various federal and state policies, but at Clenergy we foster an environment that is not affected by outside noise,” she says.

“Renewables has gone from an alternative form of energy to the mainstream. Its technology used to be very difficult and expensive, but now it has spread everywhere, is cost effective, and the industry stands on its own two feet.”

Pont draws on all her expertise at Clenergy and in the broader renewables sector to deliver an inclusiveness roadmap as co-chair of the Clean Energy Council’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Working Group, including playing a key role in recent diversity report, “Empowering Everyone”.

“In 2017, Clenergy had four per cent of staff who identified as women,” she says. “The organisation’s management has always been really supportive and celebrates our multicultural diversity.

“We have 80 per cent of us who were born overseas, and we speak 16 different languages. Multiculturism and diversity is at the company’s core.

“The gender divide wasn’t intentional, but I felt restless at the time and one day I saw a women-in-renewables initiative. Armed with a lot of courage, I attended my first event and it was amazing.

“I was inspired by people’s kindness, and many of them had the same doubts and questions as me. I’ve since attended more events and am happy to see new groups being created, such as Australian Women in Solar Energy.”

The Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Working Group has three aims: to analyse the current level of diversity in the clean energy industry; to highlight exemplary practices; and identify target areas to increase diversity.

“In some ways, renewables is a victim of its success, with a current shortage of skills,” says Pont.

“There is so much left to do and not enough people to do it so women have such an important role to play through the value chain.”