International Women’s Day Spotlight: Emma Lucia, Director of Partnerships at 3E Group, on Breaking Barriers in the Net Zero and Sustainability Space
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we caught up with Emma Lucia, the Director of Partnerships and Business Development for Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) at 3E Group, for an interview. With a background in Mechanical Engineering and Environment & Sustainability, Emma is passionate about sustainability and climate change mitigation. In what has been an inspiring career journey so far, she has worked in various organisations, including startups that focused on disrupting the status quo, before joining 3E Group.
In this conversation, Emma shares her career journey, the challenges women face in the modern workplace, and her vision for making a lasting impact for organisations through her role at 3E Group.
Q: Emma, thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us about your career journey and how you ended up in your current role at 3E Group?
A: “My career path has been unconventional, to say the least! I began as a mechanical engineer but quickly realised that I liked people more than spreadsheets and harnessed that to explore my passion for sustainability and climate change mitigation. So this enabled me to transition into partnerships, where I focused on marketing and developing values-based relationships to grow business outcomes.”
“As an entrepreneur, I worked for startups, entering new markets and disrupting the status quo. My experience also includes working at Monash University, where I started as an Industry Partnerships Manager and eventually became the Deputy Director of Development (STEM). There, I discovered my interest in the intersection of technology, business development, and stakeholder management, and thrived on the complexities of working within a large organisation.”
“My dedication to sustainability has always been a guiding force in my career. This dedication ultimately led me to my current role as Director of Partnerships and Business Development, EaaS, at 3E Group.”
I am thrilled to be a part of a team (at 3E Group) that shares my passion for creating a sustainable future for Australia and helping organisations achieve their Net Zero goals.”
Q: As a woman in the modern workplace, what challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?
A: “As a woman in the modern workplace, I have faced various challenges. One of the most significant obstacles that I have encountered is the misconception that if women have a different working style, it means that they are less experienced.”
“As a graduate engineer, I found myself in a situation where I did not have the same opportunities for growth and development as my male counterparts. However, I remained determined to overcome these challenges by pushing harder and staying motivated. In my experience, maintaining a positive attitude and having faith in my abilities have been crucial to my success in the face of these challenges.”
It’s wonderful to see that female engineers entering the workforce today are afforded a far more equal footing than when I was a graduate.”
Q: What steps can organisations take to create more opportunities for women?
A: “Diversity is more than just male and female, and we need to focus on cultural diversity as well. To encourage more women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated industries, there should be a focus on ensuring there are women on boards, and in executive positions. This should then flow down to all levels of management in an organisation.”
When we have people with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking, we’ll get better outcomes and better business results.
Q: Can you talk about your personal experience as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry and how it has changed over the years?
A: “Over the years, the scenario has changed for women in traditionally male-dominated industries; while there is still a long way to go, there has been some good progress.”
When I pursued mechanical engineering nearly two decades ago, the percentage of women in my course was only 5%. However, the same university now has around 25-30% women in engineering.
“My current workplace (3E Group) has created a supportive environment which I believe is critical. Additionally, there has been a noticeable shift in the culture around women in leadership roles in STEM companies.”
“There are now more conversations around the importance of diversity, and I have witnessed many instances where the lack of women in certain settings is questioned. It is essential to continue asking these uncomfortable but important questions to drive change and achieve more progress.”
Q: How do you envision your role at 3E Group contributing to a more sustainable future, and what impact do you believe you can make in this regard?
A: “That’s a really good question. I think that as the Director of Partnerships and Business Development (EaaS), I have a broad range of skills that I can draw upon to coalesce project teams in a very practical way and accelerate the transition to Net Zero.”
I can bring together the right parties both internal and external to my organisation to align with this goal. I think that’s really where my superpower lies.
“Additionally, I advocate for alternate financial models to accelerate the transition to Net Zero, particularly for energy in the built environment. We need to accelerate as quickly as possible, and look at alternative ways to deliver that is crucial. Overall, my role is about facilitating and supporting a transition to a sustainable future, and I believe I can contribute to this through my skills in advocacy, strategy and partnership development.”
Q: Which woman/women do you admire and look up to? What qualities do you admire in her/them?
A: “I admire and look up to several women, including Jacinda Ardern, Julia Gillard, and Michelle Obama, for their leadership and advocacy. I also draw inspiration from women in my network.”
Authenticity, leading with compassion and empathy are qualities that I find crucial in successful leaders.
“I have worked under leaders with a “power-over-style” of leadership, and that’s not something I want to emulate. Modern leadership, characterised by giving power to your people to leverage their skills and flourish, is essential to building a successful and sustainable future.”
Q: What advice do you have for women interested in pursuing a career in sustainability and getting involved in the Net Zero transition?
A: “My advice would be to lean into your passions and not be afraid to pursue what you’re truly interested in. There are many opportunities in the sustainability field, whether you have technical skills, soft skills, or a combination of both.”
“The Net Zero transition requires the participation of everyone. We need diverse voices and perspectives to find innovative ways to accelerate the transition. Women have an important role to play in this process, and I encourage them to actively seek out opportunities to get involved and support the transition towards a Net Zero future. Together we can make a positive impact.”