Women in Renewable Energy : Boiketlo Rapoo
As we continue with our quest to show the variety of jobs in the solar PV industry, we got to know more about Boiketlo (BeeKay) Rapoo, Head of the LCR at Enel Green Power, a role model and inspiration to younger women entering the renewable energy space and here is what she had to say:
Head of the LCR at Enel Green Power
What did you study, and did you plan to end up in the solar industry?
I studied Electrical Engineering and specialized in Process Instrumentation. I also studied Business Management. To be honest, I knew nothing about RE or the solar industry! I started my career as a trainee in the mines, did a bit of water purification, and then moved to the manufacturing industry; during that whole time, the solar industry never crossed my mind but today I am very glad that it did!
How did you become involved with GREEN Solar Academy?
An ex-business partner and I were passionate about empowering people with the skills and knowledge that would enable them to become professional installers. At that time, we were not able to realize this dream without some help from industry professionals. We did a bit of research, discovered GREEN Solar Academy, and contacted them about a possible partnership.
What is your job / what does your job involve now?
My current role is the Head of the Local Control Room (LCR) at Enel Green Power. The LCR is a monitoring and control room that oversees the performance of our wind and solar plants by detecting and verifying issues, gathering data for reporting and performance optimization.
What are the best parts of your job?
I have been in this position for just over 4 years and being able to lead a young most female team, and watch them grow and reach their goals has been very inspirational to me. I also had the privilege of running an internship programme for 3 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed me to shape the young minds of students who were just at the beginning of their careers – that was a very fulfilling part of my job. Traveling all over the world has also been an extraordinary highlight of my job!
Which parts do you enjoy the least?
What advice can you give to people who want to enter the solar industry – what is the best entry point in your opinion. And do you believe attitude is as important as aptitude?
With solar becoming more affordable and it being so easily adaptable for long-term growth, there are many opportunities for investors in rural and off-grid household PV systems. If you’re not an investor and want to start a career in the solar industry then the best approach would be to take a course in solar installations such as those that Green Solar Academy offers, even for inexperienced people.
I think attitude shapes our experiences and determines the reality we live in. Opportunities will avail themselves by the quality of our perceptions. But of course, aptitude can’t be devalued because experience and skills are critical for many roles: you wouldn’t want to have an unqualified doctor operate on you purely because he has a positive attitude.
Are there any aspects of your job that you do differently than a man would?
My current role was previously filled by a man and I believe that my people and management skills were very different to what the team had become accustomed to. I have a more relaxed approach to managing the team, which allows them to feel safe to share their ideas without fear of rejection, repercussions, or any other forms of dysfunction in the workplace.
Final thoughts on being a woman in your role?
There are many misconceptions about my ability to do the job because I am a woman. Engineering is still a highly male-dominated profession, so it takes more effort than a man to be respected and develop a good reputation in the industry. I do gain a great sense of purpose and pride from serving as a role model to and inspiring, a new generation of women in the RE industry.