I always wanted to delve into something which had a meaningful impact and where my input was actually being utilized
Aleezeh is a senior analyst at Power Technology Research. Currently, she leads the power grid research team in developing PTR’s syndicated power grid services and manages custom research projects for various clients across the world. The topics under her mandate include HV switchgear, MV switchgear, power transformers, distribution transformers, substation automation and power factor correction etc. Aleezeh has several publications to her name including whitepapers and thought pieces in trade press. She comes from a technical background and has a M.Sc. in Electrical Power & Energy Systems and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering.
WPS You have been at Power Technology Research for over two years now. Could you please tell us a little bit about the journey that brought you here?
Aleezeh Shahid I was in my final year of my master’s program when one of my professors who was also my thesis supervisor told me about this amazing job opportunity at a company called Power Technology Research (PTR) where I would be able to use my engineering background to help professionals in the electrical industry make informed business decisions based on my research on various power grid topics and this encouraged me to apply for a job at PTR.
WPS What was your inspiration for choosing this career path?
AS I wanted to choose a career path that was related to my degree but was also not “dry” or monotonous, but more project based. Additionally, I always wanted to delve into something which had a meaningful impact and where my input was actually being utilized and now, I couldn’t be happier that the research that we provide to different companies gets utilized in forming their business strategy and allows them gauge where and/or how they should invest their money to grow their business.
WPS Did you always have an interest in the natural sciences or was it sparked by a particular event or role model?
AS Growing up, mathematics was my favorite subject, so I always wanted to pursue engineering as a career. During my undergrad, I developed an enthusiasm for research and knew that this is where I could make the most impact based on my unique skillset and reach my full potential as a professional.
WPS Looking back to your beginnings as a student with the experience of a senior analyst in the power industry, how would you comment on the changes in the gender landscape in the scientific and technical fields within the power industry?
AS The power industry has evolved over the years and is gradually becoming more gender neutral. Moving forward as well, I feel it would continue in this positive direction of becoming completely gender unbiased. Especially, when it comes to the field of market research, I have observed that it is an equal opportunity field for all genders with great companies like PTR paving the way of truly being unbiased in their recruitment process. Also, it is encouraging and exciting to see more and more women entering STEM fields, many of my friends and colleagues have opted for higher education in STEM fields in the US, Australia, and Germany etc.
The power industry has evolved over the years and is gradually becoming more gender neutral.
WPS You have a license as an Electrical Engineer from the Pakistan Engineering Council, a title that to this day is often considered to be traditionally male. Could you tell us a bit about the experience of earning this degree? What advice do you have for women aspiring to make similar career choices?
Talking about the South Asian culture, in the past, women were usually not encouraged to pursue a career in engineering as there was a strong perception that it is something only men could excel in. However, this mindset has changed in the last decade or so, where parents have been more supportive if their daughters want to become an engineer. Luckily, I have always been privileged in this aspect that I have always had my family’s full support in my career. I would advice young women to not be discouraged if they feel some resistance from the society; if they are confident in their own abilities that this is something where they can truly shine and make an impact then there is nothing that can come in their way if they remain focused in achieving their goals.
I would advice young women to not be discouraged if they feel some resistance from the society; if they are confident in their own abilities that this is something where they can truly shine and make an impact then there is nothing that can come in their way if they remain focused in achieving their goals.
WPS As a skilled and experienced analyst, where in the power industry do you see the greatest challenges and opportunities for women?
ED I believe that market research and consulting is an excellent field for women to explore and build amazing careers in. Right now, according to my experience and understanding this is the area within the power industry that presents the greatest opportunities for women. Unfortunately, the greatest challenges still exist in powerplant/on-field jobs where the notion persists that these kinds of roles are more “suited” for men. Nevertheless, the power industry has come a long way, and although there are some notions that would take more time to break, I am positively hopeful that talented women will definitely be able to overcome these preconceived notions and leave their mark no matter which arena within the power industry they are delving into.
WPS As a student you were president of the Peer Teaching Society, and you are currently heading the Power Grid Analysis Team. What qualities do you believe a good team leader should have and try to nurture?
AS I truly believe that a great team leader should have two qualities. They should be empathetic as well as inclusive in that they take the entire team with them. Moreover, they should always be mentally as well as emotionally present; try to identify the strong points of each of their teammates and support them to play to their strengths. Every individual has something unique to offer and bring to the table and what makes a good leader great is that they can identify everyone’s strengths and try to nurture and use them to the advantage of the entire unit/team.
WPS When you were a student, you did two summer internships with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Is this a cause you are still passionate about and do you think that the future of the power industry and the preservation of wildlife and nature can go hand-in-hand?
AS Absolutely! The electrical industry should be aware of the negative impact that it has on the wildlife as well as the environment, whether it is eliminating wildlife habitats to clear large portions of land for installing massive renewable energy projects or CO2 and GHG emissions from industries and electrical equipment manufacturing. Countries around the world are increasing the penetration of renewables into their generation mix. Therefore, it is crucial that industry experts adopt more sustainable practices and policies that help mitigate the effects on wildlife and climate to strike a balance between renewable energy development and wildlife conservation. Otherwise, it does not make sense that in the process of transitioning away from fossil fuel-based generation which is harmful for the environment, we are inadvertently compromising wildlife and nature. One solution could be to install these projects in developed areas that already have little wildlife habitat. Coming to the topic of reducing GHG and specifically SF6 emissions from the electrical industry, it is critical that the industry shifts towards utilizing SF6-free switchgear going forward. SF6 emissions occur not only during the production of switchgear but also during its entire operational life as well as during its decommissioning process. It is time that our industry actively promotes “greener” technologies to ensure sustainable energy development and plays its role in combating climate change.