On International Women’s Day 2022, Amshore celebrates the women making an impact in renewable energy development. For our blog, we interviewed three women at Amshore – critical members of the Amshore team. We’re featuring three Amshore rock stars. Aida Guzman, Land and Lease Administrator, who has been with Amshore Renewable Energy since it was established. Mimi West is Executive Vice President who has been on two sides of the business including administration and development. Deana Strunk, Owner of the company, also shares her thoughts.
Q: How did you land in renewable energy development?
Aida: During my career, I have been privileged to work for energy companies from various aspects of the industry up until my current position with Amshore. Being bi-lingual helped me secure a position with the Mexico renewable projects Amshore was developing. This experience enabled me to easily make the transition into the United States projects which has been a wonderful experience for me. Working with a wonderful wind team, I have seen the company continue to expand and make a significant contribution in the industry by providing 2.9+ gigawatts of development of renewable power.
Mimi: Interestingly enough, I had an opportunity to serve the leaders in legal some time ago before I first started a new career as an administrator at Amshore. I always challenged myself to learn new skill sets, not only for the day-to-day operational, but to fully understand the project execution process of renewable energy development. After supporting our team in administrative efforts, I really got my foot in the door in development. I had an experienced developer to learn from, so after the development position opened, I was able to double down on learning resources to qualify for this new role.
Q: What would you tell your younger self to prepare you for a job in renewable energy development?
Aida: Renewable energy is a large part of our everyday life and will have a huge impact on our future. I believe all energy, whether it’s oil and gas, renewables or other, should work together for a better solution and not against each other. The need to understand all our energy options and how to implement necessary strategies to secure and balance our energy needs in the future is very important.
Mimi: The industry that you enter is powerful and forever changing. Use your time to learn about innovative technologies and embrace every career opportunity to learn and grow, as all are a vital part of what your professional career will be. As you pursue your passions and personal values, you will soon be called to a mission that would improve the trajectory of society and our environment.
Deana: Get plenty of rest before you begin! Do considerable research into renewable energy concept.
Q: What are the biggest barriers women must overcome in renewable energy development?
Aida: In my experience in the energy arena, men have always dominated such as in the oil and gas roles which started out with wildcatters drilling, then production, refining and distribution. As women started taking a larger role in providing financially for the family, the opportunities in energy-related positions or leadership roles have been few and far in-between. As renewable energy came into play, a more suitable working environment for both men and women in equal roles has taken place. This has led to many new opportunities for women in the renewable industry. I have already seen women take ownership of their worth and capabilities by taking lead in many of these companies and this is a significant turn of events over the past 50 years. Women should never be limited by the past, but only encouraged to know they can make a difference.
Mimi: Energy is a male-dominated industry and sometimes perceived to require certain technical specializations, where you find fewer women. As a result, women have to put in an extra layer of effort to navigate in energy sector, more often than not, having to prove competency and value being the only woman at the table.
Q: Who is your greatest female inspiration?
Aida: My mother is my greatest inspiration. At age 12, she lost her mother and was left to raise four of her younger siblings while her dad earned a living. With only a sixth-grade education, she managed. She has come a long way since then and she always amazes me with her strength, determination, no fear of the unknown and faith. No, she is not perfect, but she is my mom and she makes me want to be a better person in all aspects of my life.
Mimi: My greatest female inspiration: Women around the world aligning their personal values and passions with their career, while empowering other women to learn, grow and achieve their goals. When you are lifting others up, you are stronger. Strong women are inspirational.
Q: What else do you want to share about women in renewable energy development?
Aida: Women, fear not. You are just as capable in making a difference in this industry and world. There are many opportunities in the renewable industry for women to excel no matter what position. A better future for our energy industry and renewable energy solutions can be achieved if you believe in yourself.
Mimi: I hope for a future generation of women in the energy sector and no longer be defined by what box society may place women in. We will continue to navigate the industry in confidence and embrace our purpose, power and possibilities.
Deana: This is a most interesting, ever evolving business. most women have a propensity for detail which is very important in this industry.
Amshore Renewable Energy is a woman-owned business established in 2002. For 20 years, Amshore has originated and developed solar and wind energy facilities generating 2.9 gigawatts of power covering over a half a million acres.
For more information about International Women’s Day, visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.