Anna Drexler is 28 years old and has been working for meteocontrol since 2015. She came to us as an intern when still at university and wrote her Master’s thesis in the company. She currently works as a project engineer heading up major international projects. When she joined the company, she supervised the technical design of plant and equipment and then increasingly became involved in organisational matters. Her biggest project to date in Egypt had a capacity of 160 MWp and she was very proud to be part of this solar array.
Sophie Horak also worked for meteocontrol when she was still a student and has now been a permanent member of staff for the last two years. In November she moved with meteocontrol to Dubai. Working as part of a team, she is helping to set up a new office and enjoys working even more closely with her customers on site. The 29-year old is fascinated by the exciting market of the future and the major prospects that the MENA market offers.
How did you develop an interest in natural sciences?
“As a young girl, I loved experimenting and got a lot of support in this from my father,” explains Anna. “He’s an engineer and I think that my interest in technical matters has also been shaped by him. I can’t really remember having a “female” role model – there wasn’t one amongst my teachers at school nor later amongst the professors at university.”
"Ensuing from the physical aspects of climate change, I then focused on renewable energy sources during my Bachelor’s degree."
Sophie’s older sister was her formative role model. She studied Computer Science and once gave her a computer: “I always thought that she was a genius as she knew her way around computers so well. Today she works as a Senior Manager in an IT company. She develops apps and has three children. It’s just so impressive how she manages to keep all the balls up in the air at once.” When she was younger, she was particularly interested in natural science subjects at school. “Ensuing from the physical aspects of climate change, I then focused on renewable energy sources during my Bachelor’s degree. Ultimately I decided to combine my interests and opted to study Geoinformatics, a very specialised and interdisciplinary degree course.”
Anna describes the fact that she has often been involved in groups in her life in which she almost exclusively dealt with men – both outside of work as an active Girl Scout, and also now in her professional life. She studied Environmental and Process Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg and used her Master’s thesis to conduct research into the optimisation of energy management systems.
What benefits do women bring to natural sciences?
In recent years, Anna has found, time and time again, that it really helps the group dynamic in teams if the teams are made up of both men and women. She considers that there are benefits to be gained from this for the end result of group work.
Women in project management often tend to have more pronounced empathy – on many levels. This is really interesting in intercultural collaborations, explains Anna, as “people don’t necessarily communicate as directly in many cultures. I feel that, as a woman, I can often read between the lines and so identify customers’ needs better and faster.“
She also regards the fact that she completed her Master’s degree in a technical field as a benefit that also enables her to negotiate on a level playing field with men from other cultures. At the same time, she stresses: “I’m always happy when I have direct contact with a woman in the customer’s technical department – we’re totally on the same wavelength. That’s really good fun!”
However, she feels that she really has to prove her technical expertise as a woman at the start of a project, particularly if the customers don’t yet know her that well.
When she answers the phone as a woman in the Engineering department, time and time again she is met with amazement, which then turns into respect when she is able to really help the customer on a technical matter.
"Stay focused on your goal and don’t let anything or anyone dissuade you."
Do you have any recommendations for girls who are thinking about studying Natural Sciences?
“Stay focused on your goal and don’t let anything or anyone dissuade you. Particularly as a woman, it makes sense to get the best possible education you can in a field that interests you,” explains Anna. It is her experience that then women will not be afraid to deal technically with men on equal terms. Ultimately, men’s and women’s degrees have the same value and no distinctions are made between the sexes in examinations. You need to be clear about this as a woman, and present yourself with enough self-confidence about your own ability in your work.
Sophie recommends concentrating on your own interests and not being influenced by the higher percentage of men on your degree course nor in your professional life.
What do you really like about your current work?
Every day Anna really enjoys seeing how modern technology can be applied to create a more sustainable and climate-neutral future. It is important to her to use her knowledge to work towards a good cause. She would like to make a positive difference and actively combat climate change in her private and professional life.
What scientific topics are set to really excite us in the coming decade?
Anna wants to continue to advance technological change in relation to climate protection. “Over the next few decades, there will be massive potential in advancing climate protection from a technological point of view. Key innovations are set to positively support this development.”
“I am really curious about the role that artificial intelligence will play as a driver of the energy transition process towards renewable energy sources,” describes Sophie. “The efficient and intelligent use of data allows us to create new business models spanning different usage scenarios, from energy generation to distribution and consumption.” She considers that the latest trends in solar energy prediction offer major potential. From her computer science background, she is excited by the use of machine learning to identify unknown patterns in huge volumes of data.