The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam

October 20, 2021 | 12:40
Many women are leading and motivating the country’s business community in its development, embodying Vietnam’s power and serving as role models for today’s youngsters. This week, Vietnam Investment Review is again highlighting the women that are inspiring the next revolution in clean energy, breaking down stereotypes in engineering, and offering their keys on how young female minds can be nurtured in order to create a better world for all.
The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam

“Ideas can only be of use if they start living in many minds”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Ngo Thi To Nhien - Executive director, Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition

“Within this decade, we will all often hear the concept of a just energy transition, which requires innovative ideas and needs to be considered equally without gender bias. The energy and electricity sector has very few female leaders. I hope that women’s views will be respected, contributing to a just energy transition and economic development of the country,” Nhien said.

Nhien holds a degree in Electronics Informatics from the Hanoi University of Technology as well as a master’s in Energy Systems and Management from the University of Flensburg in Germany. She has more than 15 years of experience working as an independent consultant for energy projects funded by the World Bank, EU, UN, Asian Development Bank, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Nhien’s professional activities focus on energy economics, modelling, policy, and assessment of low carbon energy technologies. She was involved in developing the potential maps of renewable energy for Vietnam and developing policy in this area. Currently, she is working for the Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition (VIET), the first think tank in Vietnam to specialise in energy transition policy and climate protection.

She shared, “I think what inspired me was the combination of the science spirit of Humboldt and the research papers produced by Agora Energiewende. Agora and VIET have a similar mission in developing evidence-based and politically viable strategies to advance the goal of climate neutrality. I think the success of a nation depends on creativity, diversifying ideas, and multi-dimensional assessments. But the most important thing is practical policymaking based on scientific evidence.”

“Look for the problems that everyone else has avoided and ace it”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Maya Malik - CEO, La Gan Wind Power Development Corporation

Maya Malik has been featured in the top 100 Women’s Power List by A Word About Wind, ranking the global wind sector’s most influential women.

Maya has nearly two decades of energy and infrastructure experience in strategic, commercial, and leadership roles. She has spent 10 years in offshore wind working on projects in Taiwan, Vietnam, the UK, Denmark, and Germany for top-tier developers such as Copenhagen Offshore Partners and Orsted. Prior to renewables, she worked for Royal Dutch Shell on petrochemical projects in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

She holds a Master’s from business school INSEAD and a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Curtin University in Australia. The project director and CEO of the La Gan offshore wind farm, a 3.5GW project off the coast of Binh Thuan province, worked her way up from graduation through construction roles in oil and gas. After several years, she moved to a more innovative field in offshore wind.

The La Gan project is set to provide many benefits to the Vietnamese economy, which is not achieved overnight. Together, Maya and her team have been managing technical studies, developing government proposals, building relationships with local companies, and closing contracts.

She explained with the commitment of industry and support from society and government, several actions can be taken to increase diversity, and foster a better gender balance.

“Within industry we can and should set board and management diversity targets, monitor them, make them public, and reward those who meet them,” she said. “The key to solving the diversity problem is to make it an industry issue, not a women’s issue.”

The country must also ensure a healthy pool of role models within the power industry by highlighting successful women across a diverse range of professions in the sector that can inspire the next generation of talents and ensure that public industry events like conferences and talk shows are diverse.

Other actions she says are neccessary include actively mentoring young talents and monitor their progression; focusing on the next generation currently in schools to ensure that they study the right courses; and ensuring industry supports working parents with appropriate maternity, childcare, and part-time and flexible working policies.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Nguyen Ngan - Branding director, SolarBK

Ngan is responsible for adopting a marketing strategy for a company’s target market. She earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Vietnam International University and Germany’s ESB Business School.

Along with around a decade of working experience in media, sales, marketing, and public relations, Ngan has built suitable abilities for her current role. She has enhanced SolarBK’s prestige in both the domestic and global markets when maintaining brand integrity across all company marketing initiatives and communications.

Working at SolarBK since 2015, Ngan has contributed to the achievements of the group’s brands through a range of awards such Sustainable Entrepreneur from the Ministry of Industry and Trade; the Smarter E Award 2019 in Germany for a “Solar Experience Space”, and a runner-up position in the YouthTime Movement Awards 2017 in Indonesia.

With over 40 events and projects planned and supervised, Ngan has shown her mettle when it comes to teamwork and negotiating. She believes strongly in organisational culture as well as individual creativity, which can create the best conditions in any business area, and tries to transfer this inspiration to all colleagues. Ngan said that although in Vietnam there are improving and supporting policies on gender balance of industry leaders, there is more room to improve including educating awareness, balance time, how to devise scale assessment and use of digital technology.

“The future is clean air, sustainable energy, and green development for our children”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Nguy Thi Khanh - Executive director, GreenID

Khanh has gained a lot of leadership, strategic, and management skills, and was the first Vietnamese woman to become a Goldman Prize recipient in 2018 and an Eisenhower Fellow in 2019. She was also listed in the top 100 most influential people on climate policy in 2019.

Khanh graduated from the Institute of International Relations in Hanoi and since 2008 has been coordinator of the advocacy efforts of the Vietnam Rivers Network. There, she initially worked on limiting water pollution from mining activities and then broadened the emphasis to include other pollution sources and strategic energy policy. She was an official observer for Vietnam at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.

Khanh has used her scientific research and worked closely with authorities to promote long-term, sustainable energy projects and reduce Vietnam’s dependency on coal, helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country by 115 million tonnes a year.

Under her leadership, GreenID has helped more than 20,000 people in many different communities have increased access to clean energy and clean water. Since 2016, she and her colleagues have initiated the Renewable Energy Week programme to share experiences and promote good practices and lessons on clean energy.

Khanh said, “For me, the future is clean air, sustainable energy, and green development for our children.”

“In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Le Thi Phuong Nhi - Managing director, Siemens Gamesa Vietnam

Nhi was born in the central city of Danang and is now based in Ho Chi Minh City for Siemens Gamesa Vietnam, one of the leading wind turbine manufacturers in the world. Prior to this role, she was heading Business Development and Strategy at Siemens Vietnam with a focus on energy, industry, and the infrastructure sector. Nhi has also worked in supply chain management, market research, and business development in various fields.

Nhi holds a Master of Business Administration from the Vietnam National University in collaboration with the Hawaii University. Previously, Nhi graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Business from the Danang Economics University.

During her time working at Siemens, she was selected in the top three talents representing Siemens in Asia, joining Cedrik Neike of the Managing Board of Siemens AG at the OAV Young Leader Conference in Berlin in 2017. And in August last year, Nhi was nominated globally as “Hero of the month” for Siemens Gamesa.

“Nowadays, we have seen more and more negative effects such as salinity intrusion, an increasing frequency of storms and floods, and so on,” Nhi said. “Vietnam’s economy is among the most vulnerable in the world to climate change impacts, and so I personally feel inspired to work in the renewable energy sector, which actively contributes to greener growth and combating climate change.”

Companies in the energy sector such as Siemens Gamesa, which is deeply committed to driving sustainable and inclusive growth around the world, welcome employees from different backgrounds and experiences that represent the local communities where the company operates. In this regard, Siemens Gamesa holds the aspirational target of increasing the representation of women in its overall workforce and in leadership positions.

“It is essential to understand that the climate challenge we’re facing has a cross-sectorial nature where energy is one key sector. Because of this, actions to actively fight climate change by promoting more green energy and technological education in line with the future needs of society is essential,” Nhi insists. In order to build a more sustainable model, she added, it is key that there are enough trained professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and that women are actively encouraged to participate through specific educational programmes.

“It’s the Vietnamese motto: Independence, Liberty, and Happiness”

The women changing the face of energy in Vietnam
Bui Thi Hong Van - Managing director, Angelin Energy

“I remember when I was a little girl, I followed my auntie to gas storage tanks and I saw a line of trailers, big tanks, and huge vessels. It raised a curiosity in me about where they came from and how they worked. Now, my privilege is to work in an industry that gives me a chance to meet world leaders with great minds. I have become humbler, work with higher standards, and will be a life-long learner,” Van said.

She is well known as a young businesswoman in the Vietnam liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector with nearly 10 years of experience in the industry. As a proactive young millennial, she soon got her first footprint in managing a trading business in the south – a welcome step after her 2013 graduation in Environmental Technology.

In 2014, Van maintained her relentless efforts to move forward and led her teams to develop the compressed natural gas (CNG) in the north of the country. In the quest to deliver successful commercial operations, she coordinated tightly with third parties such as gas suppliers, distributors, constructors, equipment suppliers, and even governments and other authorities from other countries.

In 2016, Van continued expanding her global network by attending international oil and gas exhibitions and conferences around the world while updating advanced technology and future products in order to fully leverage the high amount of technical know-how, expertise, and specialised LNG knowledge.

Two years ago, she proudly established her own standalone business, Angelin Energy, which focuses on developing LNG and low-carbon energy. She continues to develop both a technical and commercial-oriented mindset on her professional pathway.

She said, “Angelin inspires and lets female staff get involved in a variety of projects, positions, and tasks. We are empowering them to lead teams and commit to outcomes and, as fairly as possible, promote them to the next level such as team leader, manager, or into corporate leadership when they are ready.”


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