Developing Future Leaders in the Energy Sector

By Whitney Pailman, 29 May 2023

We’ve interviewed Mascha Moorlach and Kai Forster from the TEA Learning Partnership ahead of the Launch of the new Future Female Leaders in Energy Course, to learn more about this exciting new course offering!

The Future Female Leaders in Energy course developed by the University of Cape Town (UCT) in collaboration with the African Management Institute (AMI), forms part of the range of exciting new courses developed in phase 2 of the TEA-LP and TEA. This course aims to equip women, working in the energy sector in entry-level positions with the skills to grow into management and leadership roles and expand the wider talent pool from which women can be promoted.

The Future Female Leaders in Energy course is aimed at women working in the energy sector with one to two years of experience. Among the modules developed by UCT is the ‘Introduction to Energy and Off-grid Energy Sector’ module, which seeks to provide a high-level overview of key energy sector concepts, covering technical and non-technical aspects.

As Kai explained: The first course that we developed is called the Introduction to the Energy and Off-grid Energy Sectors, and it is basically an introductory level course aimed specifically at females in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“For technical aspects, we have things like power generation, power distribution, power consumption, electricity and sources of energy and then more towards the non-technical aspects, we cover issues such as social, cultural, political and environmental aspects.” 

The course serves as a collaboration between AMI and UCT. In terms of content, a broad variety of topics are covered, which seeks to provide training of specific key skills such as financial, risk and project management, organisational management and leadership.

Mascha noted: “We had a whole list of topics, which we thought would be useful for the women we are targeting to take this course. We looked at the strengths of the different partners and the motivation to do the introduction to financial management to “Speak Up to Lead” in the project management.  There are also skills such as risk management, leadership, organizational management and a few other gaps on the list.”

The course aims to fully integrate participants into UCT, with each participant becoming a student. This provides each student with an online learning experience, while having  smaller groups to ensure focussed training and cultivation of meaningful collaborations amongst the students.

 Mascha explains: “They become actual UCT students with a student number and access to Vula (an online UCT platform). The first cohort is planned for early July 2023, and we are looking for, on average, about 30 Ladies per cohort. What we’ll be aiming for, is that there is a synergy between the ladies.’

The course was designed with flexibility in mind making lessons accessible to course participants in convenient video content and assessment quizzes, that can be taken remotely at the course participant’s discretion.

“This is a 100% remote course being shared throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, so it’s all going to be done through e-learning, essentially. It can also be done in the participant’s own time, when they’re feeling the most focused, when they’re feeling the most productive. They’re not bound by a set schedule of lessons. The course also breaks down concepts into small bite sized pieces. We take some inspiration from micro learning, which makes the overall course a lot more manageable for them as well”- Kai Forster

“The course itself consists of 15 short lecture videos of about 15 minutes each. That basically means that participants will do one lecture per day, finishing off each week with a quiz. There will be three weeks of lectures followed by one mini project just to cap off everything that they’ve learned throughout the course or the module. The course itself covers quite a wide range of concepts. Obviously, we only have about 25 hours to share all that content” – Kai Forster

Kai further shared insights about the capstone mini project students are required to complete at the end of the module, which serves as an assessment for key learning outcomes on topics covered throughout the course. The mini project also serves as a comprehensive overview of technical and non-technical concepts addressed throughout the course, as Kai explained:

 “It was basically to test the student’s system’s level perspective and their holistic understanding of how all these different parts of the energy and off grid energy sectors work together. This mini project will include a little bit of everything that they cover, except for the history of energy. Everything else is included in that, to some degree. It’s really just to test the systems level of understanding they’ve gained, all of the concepts technical and non-technical.

In terms of learning outcomes, the course aims to cultivate a well-rounded understanding of the energy sector, socio-political aspects of renewable energy and energy access.

Kai noted: “We expect students to cultivate a holistic systems level understanding of the energy sector as a whole, and how the different parts of it operates and sort of merge together. We expect them to understand key terms and concepts relating to the energy sector. It will cover all of the technical and the non-technical aspects. In addition to that, some of the things we expect them to know, or some of the knowledge they will gain by the end, is to appreciate the importance of politics or policies, sustainability and socio-economic benefits to society. Furthermore, to explain different types of renewable energy, their pros and cons, some unintended consequences of using renewable energy, as well as the applicability to different geographical regions. Then lastly, to just understand how energy access can improve society from an individual all the way through to a global level.”

The course aims at providing skills that can be applied to students current work spaces, and can be used in future potential job opportunities.

 Mascha noted: “And hopefully that will benefit their career path within that company or within other companies. Because  if there are jobs they want to apply for, they can say “I’ve done this amazing course.”

With respect to the unique contribution of the course in the context of challenges faced in the Sub-Saharan African Energy Sector, Kai explained:

“This course is unique, because it is taught in the context of challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that participants who will mostly all be from this region will be offered some valuable insights that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to gauge from, say, doing a generic course on the energy sector. So, there’s also a significant focus on renewable energy and sustainability.”

In terms of future impact, the course has a specific focus on renewable energy and sustainability and has a  regional and global outlook, in alignment with UN SDG 7, as Kai noted:

 “The course will give participants the necessary knowledge to make an impact for the future, not only for Africa, but also for the whole world and also help contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number seven, which is basically energy access for all by 2030”.”

Applications for the Future Female Leaders in Energy course is now open, and we encourage women working in the sector to learn more by visiting AMI’s website here and apply!