Beyond Decarbonisation with Nirupa Chander, Hitachi ABB Power Grids

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In the latest segment of In-Power Women, we were pleased to speak with an inspiring recruit, Nirupa Chander, Country Managing Director-Singapore at Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

Nirupa joined the power sector in 2004, and when we asked her what she would have told herself when she was fresh out of college and beginning her career in the power sector, she said, “Be ready for a rollercoaster ride!” The same advice could be given to young people now starting their energy careers, especially young women, because of all the exciting changes the industry is currently undergoing it is a great time to jump aboard. “The statistics obviously show that there is a lot to be done to attract, retain and grow female talent in the power sector. But that’s what makes me optimistic about the future – there is plenty to do!” Due to the continuous altering of the energy sector, it is opportune to join the power industry, especially with the digital transformation and the global energy transition taking place. The growth outlook is immense. 

“Be ready for a rollercoaster ride!” – Nirupa Chander

The industry was in a period of adjustment and was tackling massive growth at that time Nirupa started. Due to her ability to adjust with the industry, she has invaluable experiences to share. “When I graduated with an engineering degree in 2004 and entered the power sector in India, it was almost a different era. There was still a lot of infrastructure required to be built as only 70% of India’s population had access to reliable power at the time,” she said. Due to the sheer magnitude of the scope of energy reform in India, Nirupa was able to work on large projects creating supercritical coal-fired power stations and combined cycle gas plants in remote and isolated locations. This episode in Nirupa’s life gave her profound knowledge and a distinct advantage for her career. “This experience gave me a solid foundation in large multi-disciplinary infrastructure projects that were truly supporting the growth of the economy and improving the quality of life,” she said. Having been able to focus on these large projects in India, now Nirupa is pleased to see India working towards adding 450GW of renewable generation capacity by 2030. As electricity becomes the backbone of our future energy system, renewables form an essential step on the path towards meeting carbon targets.

In conjunction with renewables, decarbonisation is an essential part of the ongoing global energy transition. Countries must ensure their planning is aligned to ensure a successful outcome especially considering aggressive emissions targets. “Many governments have set clear carbon targets, and we see there a stronger resolve to achieve these as we build back better in the post-COVID world. But this is not a one-person effort, in fact, now more than ever, this requires cross-stakeholder collaboration. Previous models of engagement are no longer applicable if we want to make these radicals shifts at unprecedented speeds,” Nirupa said. As an example of this kind of strategy, Nirupa highlighted the VPP project in Singapore. The principles of this particular project are governments, academia, and industry collaborate to successfully demonstrate model technology while building confidence and transforming the electricity network infrastructure. “Many countries can learn from governments like Singapore where there is not only an aggressive target but also resolve backed by clear action plans,” she said.

Trending Now – Customer Engagement

Beyond decarbonisation, Nirupa has also seen other interesting changes in the industry including a massive move in the customer engagement space. “If I look at my own career and customer engagement over the years… it’s an interesting journey,” she said. When she started, 16-17 years ago, her company was mainly dealing with state utilities, but this has shifted completely. “As we move towards an electric carbon-neutral future, especially with the boom in digitalisation, our customer profile has expanded dramatically as well,” she said. Due to companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon building data centers at an extraordinary pace, it has been rewarding and demanding to keep up with the needs of the thriving digital economy, but these challenges have only invigorated Nirupa.

Of Nirupa’s own story, there was much more we could have spoken with her about, but in closing, we asked her about diversity in the workplace, she was pleased to say it is a priority at Hitachi ABB Power Grids. “In the post-COVID era, sustainability is at the top of everyone’s agenda, and this requires the best of innovation that is driven by talent and diversity of thought and action. We can see several organizations, fully committed to increasing diversity in their workforce as we together solve some of the biggest global challenges of our times,” she said. Hitachi ABB Power Grids heads transformative projects such as transfer the world’s largest wind farm’s power to the grid, bringing energy to mass transportation systems, and protecting our biggest cities from blackouts. Based on these projects alone, who wouldn’t want to work on these kinds of endeavours, she asked.

Not only does Hitachi ABB Power Grids work on interesting projects, they have a vision made possible by their exceptional talent and a diverse team. “What I can say to all the young women thinking of a career in the energy sector – this is a very exciting space, with some fundamental changes happening in how we generate and consume energy, and organisations are even more committed to make this happen with diverse talent. It is a great time to be a woman in this sector,” she said. Hear, hear Nirupa and we love to hear this kind of messaging.

Casting Call for Future Allies

We hope you enjoyed this segment of the In-Power Women series. Be sure to check out our future content for more unique perspectives of the power sector, and please drop us a line if you would like to get involved. We are accepting nominations for future allies now! To nominate an ally or to learn more, please email melissa.fitzgerald@clarionevents.com today.

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