Limited energy access at the household level of many homes and its associated impact on health, livelihoods, and economics falls squarely on the shoulders of women, who primarily bear responsibility for cooking, lighting, and heating in their households. It is for this reason that women need to be more involved in decision making across the household clean energy value chain, promoting the adoption of cleaner technologies, fuels, and cooking practices.
What better woman to Zoom In on this month than the brilliant Dr. Linda Davis who is the Strategic Partnerships Director at wPOWER, an organization that promotes the central role women must play in clean energy entrepreneurship and in addressing climate change? Appreciating this at at an early age, Dr. Davis tells us more about herself as a business woman.
I attended Loreto High School Limuru. Through this school, I got to learn about myself and really cement my values.
After high school, I joined the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology which was such an exclusive opportunity, especially for women simply because at the time it was purely a science, engineering and architectural school. In the four years that I was there we were literally 3 women in my class and I was elected class representative by my peers. I maintained that position for 4 years. One thing you need to know about me is I work hard, it would be difficult to outwork me. This is something I learned at high school and university.
After university, I decided to become a mountaineer. This was after turning down a job offered to me by Brookside Dairies after my internship period where I worked as an intern microbiologist. Truth is, I spent most of my days helping wherever I could and often included carrying milk jugs and cleaning since there were often quite times with little activity in the lab. It was this effort that saw the company offer me a job. This experience taught me that I was not above doing menial jobs!
I enrolled in a mountaineering school, The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the town of Naro Moru where I had to learn the language of the people around me. I can tell you for a fact that there’s something about carrying a 35kg backpack on your backpack for 38 days at a time that contains all that one needs for survival. It really builds your character.
Three years later, I applied for a masters degree in Sydney, Australia. After this, due to good grades, the Australian government offered me a full scholarship to pursue a Ph.D degree in Biotechnology and Microbiology. I was doing my Ph.D research and teaching at the same time at UNSW. From there, I got my first job at Pricewaterhouse Coopers as a senior consultant. Here, I got to learn a lot about business. After 2 years I decided to apply for jobs in the U.S.A.. Surprisingly, one company noticed my application and offered me a job as a Director of Emerging Technologies. I worked in the USA for close to 10 years and in 2015, I got a call back to Kenya and here I am at this wonderful organisation-wPOWER . I love every minute of it!
I don’t want to sound cliche but one of them has got to be, do what you say you are going to do. Another one is, try to inspire to integrity to the extent that you can. One of the things I share with my team is just bring your whole person to work and have fun doing a good job.
They are so many. It’s impossible to just have one but Wangari Maathai is definitely one of them.I appreciate her. Her persistence and courage are unrivaled. Her legacy lives on. It is a pleasure to be part of her vision for a sustainable environment through wPOWER.
Another role model I have is Ragna Árnadóttir who is the deputy CEO of a large thermal energy organisation in Iceland. She’s just a force to reckon with. I have never seen that much confidence personified in one individual. Those two work for me! Oh! And I must acknowledge – Hillary Clinton. She is always working to break the glass ceiling.
I think women need to put their hands up more. Be present, take up space, do and take credit for it! We need to get on with being excellent. It’s very disappointing when I see a woman work below her potential. I just see it as the biggest waste of opportunity. Women should not compromise their own ability. Do your part first as a professional and certainly when opportunities present themselves you will be ready for them.
I don’t give advice, I do not think it is in my place to do so.I share experiences. Women don’t need advice they just need to see different ways of being excellent.
I very rarely ever pass up on an opportunity. I try to take up every opportunity I get. I’ve been a fine-dining waitress, staying on my feet for 7 days at a time after a full day’s work at university; I’ve been a dishwasher, I’ve been a mountaineer, I’ve been a snorkeling instructor; a personal trainer; a tutor; I’ve swept floors, I’ve taken sewing classes and much more. I think you need to fill up your tool box because you never know which tool you’re going to need to do a good job – for example, the resilience I learned from mountaineering serves me on a daily. I work for results, I don’t work for time. I try to just get on with it and not complain.
I spend most of my time with my babies. I read a lot. I try to get through a book a month, I hang out with my support circle. I try to stay fit but these days I find that I do not make enough time so I do what I can to remain as physically active as I possibly can. I love travelling and cooking. I am a good cook if I may say so myself! Oh, and I love wine and its artistery. I enjoy eastern-tea culture as well.
Show up, do the job and do it well and put your hand up for goodness sake!
I have been successful in raising money for some large energy projects globally. But by far, the USD 50,000 I was able to raise for a project in Kangemi, Kenya, takes the crown. I am very proud of this because it will have an impact on a very large community and it will definitely change some of the energy issues.
They are two interrelated actually. The first one is “sit with it!” There’s a time to do nothing and just sit with a grappling issue and it’ll work out.
The second best piece of advice is “It all works out in the end.” Life is never that serious.
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