To mark World EV Day on September 9th, we sat down with Agnese Chiesa, Marketing Manager for the public charge point operator Believ, to discuss how the Electric Vehicle (EV) charging landscape is changing, advice for women in the industry and what to look out for when beginning a career in EV infrastructure.
How long have you been working in Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure?
After moving from Italy, I completed my degree at Goldsmiths and went straight into the industry in 2018. After two roles at other charge point operators, I joined Believ earlier this year. Working in the industry straight off the back of graduating has given me a great understanding of the electric vehicle space as well as how a public charge point infrastructure is fundamental to the future adoption and success of sustainable transport.
What drove you to want to work within EV infrastructure?
I’ve always wanted to work in an industry that made a tangible difference to reducing our impact on the planet. I’m also incredibly passionate about the effects of air and noise pollution and how tackling these two issues can have profound, positive effects on communities. For me, working in an industry that combined my desire to help communities whilst at the same time advancing sustainable mobility in our communities was a ‘win win’.
As a woman in a technology-driven industry, have you had any challenges in your career?
I’ve been in meetings outside our organisation on multiple occasions where I’m the only woman in a room full of men. Although things are changing slowly, I would very much like to see many more women in positions of authority across the industry. It’s really important for women to be able to easily choose workplaces where diversity and inclusion is taken seriously from the leadership down. Although I work for an organisation where this is the case, I am acutely aware that so much more needs to be done across the industry to promote the importance and benefits of a diverse workplace.
How does protecting the environment influence your life outside work?
Being vegan is an important part of my own sustainability efforts, not just in terms of animal rights, but because it’s slightly more sustainable than regularly consuming animal products. There’s also plenty of small, everyday things I do to try and help – for example, taking public transport over private vehicles and minimising consumption of single-use plastic. While I do believe that significant change and demonstrations of accountability must come from big organisations, making small everyday decisions such as learning more about sustainability or taking part in a community effort like volunteering or protecting green spaces, helps me feel like I am making a difference.
What do you love most about your job?
I love my team. Working in an environment with shared goals and values is incredibly rewarding for me. I love the industry most though; we’re actively playing a part in changing how the world works – reducing our reliance on internal combustion engines (ICE) and fossil fuels. We’re not just working towards more electric vehicles on our roads, we’re supporting multi-modal transport strategies, where it’s not just about moving from ICE to EV but also a blended approach, ensuring our roll out supports active travel and public transport wherever possible.
What’s most important to you on our journey to net zero?
As a collective, the most crucial element is to not just focus on one solution, but to take a more holistic approach. There is no single solution that can get us to net zero. But a multi-faceted approach can create a more sustainable culture and way of life, that works for communities and businesses. That can mean a variety of different things to many different people. We know not everyone is in a position to own an EV right now, but it can be as simple as asking for more sustainable processes as an employee, or taking part in nurturing a community garden. These are all things that work together to make sustainability more accessible.
Believ’s workforce is more than 50% female – but that’s not the case throughout the industry. What do you think needs to change?
I think there needs to be more support from the education system, to encourage women and girls to be involved in this industry, which is still majority male. In the workplace, change needs to happen from the top down. One tangible demonstration of this at Believ has been our consistent support, throughout the year, of Women in EV. This was based on the challenge that only one day in the year to celebrate Women in EV was inadequate, so we decided to promote the activities of different women within our organisation throughout the year. Employers and employees should ensure they’re supportive towards women and minority groups in the workspace, and using their own privilege to open the doors to others, making sure that everyone knows they are welcome and can make their voices heard.
What advice would you give women who wanted to work in EV charging?
When starting out, the most crucial piece of advice I would give is to find a team, and especially leadership team, that is supportive. It’s a really fast-moving industry, so if you find a team that allows you to develop whilst creating a workplace where trying and failing is about learning, you’ll find an environment where your career can blossom.
The PSE article is available here.