Engineer Naureen Alam shows innovative power of inclusive leadership

Naureen Alam is an awarded change-maker and diversity advocate creating inclusive cultures that operationalize innovation & tech to realize a sustainable energy future. She’s a chartered chemical and metallurgical engineer, has earned a Masters in Sustainability Leadership from Cambridge University and was named the Emerging Leader in Tech for the 2021 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

**** Entries for the 2022 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards close August 26. Learn more here. ****

Alam works as Group Manager for the Future Low Carbon Portfolio at AGL Australia, an essential service provider of gas, electricity and telecommunications. Her current projects include two feasibility studies for green hydrogen at the Hunter (NSW) and Torrens (SA) AGL Industrial Energy Hubs.

Her diverse engineering career in the energy and resource industry has also seen her working at several other top-tier organizations such as ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto, Origin Energy and Aurecon. As an acknowledged leader in solving complex challenges in the energy and decarbonisation space, Alam turns “what’s possible” into a reality.

Here, Alam shares an update on her life as well as the exciting work she’s been doing in sustainable technology over the past year since the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards. She also offers valuable advice to other women interested in making big impacts in historically male-dominated fields and leadership positions.

How would you describe your current role and job?

My role is Group Manager – Future Low Carbon Portfolio at AGL. My team examines the feasibility & commercial viability of low carbon energy technology such as emerging battery energy storage technology and hydrogen. It’s an interesting role that requires combining a technical, strategic and commercial approach.

What’s your career and life been like over the past year?

It’s been exciting – a promotion and getting married! I got married in March this year to my wonderful and supportive husband, Paul, near Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park. I’ve also been dipping a toe into the entrepreneurial world and understanding how to best make a positive impact.

Can you tell us about a project you’ve been working on over the past year that you’re really excited about?

For the past year, I’ve been working on being a visible role model as a senior leader who is a woman of color with a STEM background. I’ve been speaking up on a range of topics such as inclusive leadership at The Australian Women’s QLD Symposium and being a champion of change for Engineers Australia – Women in Engineering event. I’ve been reflecting on the good, bad and some ugly experiences as a leader of color and also as an engineer working in a male-dominated field. And I have loved being on the receiving end and learning from inspiring women!

What do you believe urgently needs to change for women in your current area of ​​work or focus?

Systemic change within industries and organizations to overcome unconscious bias, creating psychological safety, and embedding inclusive practices (eg equitable maternity & paternity leave).

Throughout my career, some of the development training I’ve received has been targeted at how to overcome the challenges facing women – “how can I adapt to thrive in a male-dominated industry”. I’d like to see the burden of adaptation shift from women to organizations and industries in general. That is, can we shift to asking leaders in organizations (not just women!) “how can workplace culture adapt to be more inclusive of their increasingly diverse workforces and enable their success?”

What advice do you have for women who are looking to push the status quo on trying to achieve better outcomes for others?

I’ve got a beloved postcard, there’s a pink background and a sea of ​​dark fish swimming in one direction. Then there is one little bright colored fish going the other way. One thought comes to mind – adversity. When you are pushing against the status quo – you’re the bright colored fish. Adversity awaits and that’s ok! Here is where you tap into your personal values, your resilience and you lean into the network that supports you. It’s also key to pick your battles and decide where to direct your agency and energy for influencing better outcomes for others.

What, generally, is your best career tip for making big things happen?

Big things happen when you grow and take chances. Failure is a given. Do not shy away from it. We try, we fail, we learn, we grow. You must always try. Sometimes, it can even just be a conversation with someone new. Curiosity is a wonderful friend and a great driver for change.

Check out the 2022 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards here.

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