Q&A: Catherine Brennan, Financial Manager, GreenYellow
Published 22nd June 2022
By Kamogelo Motse, Research Associate, Climate Council
The Climate Council’s Kamogelo Motse got to chat with Catherine Brennan, Financial Manager at GreenYellow. Catherine took the time to speak with Kamo about her role at GreenYellow, the diversity and biases faced by women working in the sector and exciting projects that GreenYellow are working on. We ended off the Q&A with Catherine giving advice to young women who would want to pursue a career in sustainable investing.
- What does your role as Financial Manager at GreenYellow entail?
Ultimately, my objective is to maximize shareholder return whilst ensuring compliance and stability in the South African business unit.
- What did you study in university and do you think it prepared you for the career path that you have chosen?
I studied a Batchelor of commerce majoring in Accounting, Management Accounting, Auditing and Tax. This gave me a great foundation for my career path; however, my experience within the industry has been invaluable. Another solid foundation for the industry would be a finance related degree, depending on where your interests lie.
- What made you want to choose a career in sustainable investing?
My entry into the industry happened by chance when I was asked to interview for a role at an independent power producer. Working in an industry where you are at the forefront of technological advancements, along with being a part of providing a solution to climate change is incredibly rewarding.
- Can you discuss your thoughts around diversity and biases faced by women working in the sector and even around hiring processes?
I do feel that the renewable industry is one of the most progressive when it comes to diversity, however there is a challenge to have women represented in departments requiring engineering qualifications. What we are seeing is a lack of representation in candidates. Given that these roles are the majority in an energy company, the sector is still a male dominated one.
Aside from this, it is important that those responsible for hiring are aware of their own inherent biases, along with the benefits that a diverse workforce brings. I think companies often view diversity as good PR or to comply with legislation, but the true value comes from differing opinions and approaches to solving problems, leading to a stronger performance.
- It has been reported that women are minorities in technical positions such as engineering, how do you think this can be corrected in renewable energy companies such as GreenYellow?
This needs to be addressed during the high school stage when learners are making career choices. From my personal experience women do not choose these career paths as they are not exposed to them. As part of renewable socio-economic development programs, female learners could be made aware of these career paths through work experience or career days, followed up with scholarship programs and internships.
- Are there any exciting projects that GreenYellow are working on that you can tell us about?
Yes, we have recently been awarded with two exciting contracts:
The first is an energy efficiency agreement with Retailability (Pty) Ltd where GreenYellow will implement energy efficiency projects in 106 of Retailability’s Edgars stores. This project will provide 16 GWh of annual energy savings, being a 30% reduction in their energy bill of the sites concerned and a substantial reduction in their direct carbon footprint, with over 14 000 tons of CO2 emissions avoided per year.
The second is a power purchase agreement with PPC Cement. GreenYellow will develop solar photovoltaic plants for two large industrial sites, totaling 2.8 MWp.
- What is the best advice you can give to young women aspiring to move into a career in sustainable investing?
Keep up to date with the industry. From advancements in technology to what the key power producers are doing. If your specialisation is outside of engineering, strive to have a basic understanding of how the different technologies work.
Most importantly, follow GreenYellow South Africa on LinkedIn!
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