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Embarking on a journey in a new environment, whether it’s a different country or a new career, can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to making connections. In my experience, focusing on your own values and making choices aligned with them can lead you to like-minded individuals who share your vision.
Where it all began
Born in Kazakhstan and educated in Russia, my journey in the world of STEM unfolded against the backdrop of fossil fuel-dominated electricity generation. Eager to explore alternative energy sources, I faced a pivotal moment post-graduation—enter the workforce or pursue further education? Opting for the latter, I delved into the realm of renewable energy, pursuing a Master’s degree in France, the European Green Capital.
For aspiring women in engineering and technology, I offer a tip: choose your degree specialization wisely. A narrow focus facilitates easier job searches and kickstarts a focused career path. Armed with my specialized knowledge in Smart Grids and Energy Transition, I eagerly entered the professional world. As I navigated the job market, stepping out of my comfort zone became my guiding compass. Job interviews became platforms to showcase my authentic self, aligning with organizations that valued creativity and a readiness for challenges. My willingness to take calculated risks propelled me forward. It eventually lead me to different corners of the globe, building an authentic, open mindset shaped by diverse cultures.
Nurturing a supportive network
Joining Schneider Electric in 2020 as a Microgrid intern opened doors to a community that values Decarbonization, Digital Transformation, and Innovation – principles that align with my own. In the traditionally male-dominated tech world, being a woman often means feeling isolated. You can’t be what you can’t see. However, Schneider Electric is changing that narrative.
Through initiatives like the Energy Management Decarbonization Roundtable and the inclusion of the core value ‘Embrace Different’, Schneider actively fosters diversity. I’ve discovered inspiring female role models within the company, forming a network that extends beyond the confines of our immediate work circles. We even cultivate this camaraderie through unexpected avenues, like Zumba classes during lunch breaks, creating bonds that transcend the 9-5.
Step out your comfort zone and be bold in everything you do
Navigating through different roles at Schneider Electric – from intern to Microgrid Offer Manager – presented challenges, including team and leader change. I viewed them as opportunities to learn and grow. Embracing change and being bold became a mantra for me, a lesson learned from witnessing the transformation of my team and the adoption of agile strategies to drive innovation.
Boldness, to me, is the willingness to learn new cultures. It is acquiring new skills, and building an authentic self in the face of challenges. In a career path that may not have existed before, your journey is uniquely yours. Others may perceive you as too junior or too senior based on their own experiences. But it is your choice to settle with the things as they are or challenge the status quo.
As I continue my journey, I am grateful for the support of my Microgrid family at Schneider Electric. Together, we navigate the complexities of our roles, foster an environment for professional growth, and collaboratively contribute to the mission of decarbonizing our planet. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it is up to us across different organizations to make this happen. If you think that you are not bold enough, you are wrong.
So, what is your story?
About the author
Dana Mashtakova, Microgrid Offer Manager
Dana has had the privilege of calling several countries home, experiencing diverse cultures and lifestyles. With her passion for innovation and digitization, she drives Microgrid Offers at the Software & Edge Control at Schneider Electric. As an Electrical Engineering graduate specializing in Smart Grids & Microgrids, she is inspired to foster a supportive and inclusive environment for women in STEM. She believes that embracing new cultures, making bold choices outside of comfort zone, and thriving within a community can bypass any challenges.