#IWM: Meet Chinwe Udo-Davis, An HR-Tech Expert and CEO of Instollar


The Nest Innovation Technology Park, in commemoration of the International Women’s Month, spoke with a trailblazing woman who is making waves in the Engineering Industry as an HR-Tech Expert and the Co-Founder and CEO of Instollar.

Instollar is a Green Workforce Marketplace that connects renewable energy companies in need of skills for solar project implementation across Africa, with qualified freelance green-energy talents who are experienced in project implementation.

She spoke to us about how being a woman has been her core strength to excelling in her field, and the celebration of International Women’s Day greatly reminds her of this. We applaud her bravery and hope that women all over the world also get to learn from her experiences as we did.

Read her Interview below:

What is your name? Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Chinwe Udo-Davis, I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Instollar. I am a HR-Tech expert with several years working experience in the renewable energy industry. I have worked with several cross-cultural teams and managed organizations at various levels from startups to large multinationals. I have a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and literature and a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. I am bilingual, a professional swimmer, married and mother of 3 young children.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Solar Installation?

During my time working as HR director with companies like Schneider Electric and Green Elec I witnessed firsthand the challenges Renewable Energy companies faced with access to skilled workforce to deploy projects located in remote and peri urban communities. These companies usually incur high logistics costs, huge payroll cost and generally poor access to qualified technicians which in turn impedes their expansion plans. I decided to do something about it by launching Instollar. Also considering the transformative potential of sustainable energy to solve the unemployment challenges plaguing our continent, Instollar is helping solve these problems and bridge the gap across Africa.

Can you share some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the solar installation field, and how you’ve overcome them?

In the traditionally male-dominated field of solar installation, female founders often face unique challenges that can hinder their success and impact. From navigating gender biases to breaking through glass ceilings, the journey for women in solar can be fraught with obstacles. As a female founder in this industry, I’ve encountered and overcome many of these challenges, paving the way for other women to follow in my footsteps.

One of the primary challenges faced by female founders in solar is the pervasive gender bias that exists within the industry. Stereotypes and preconceived notions about women’s capabilities can lead to skepticism and discrimination, making it difficult for female entrepreneurs to gain credibility and respect. Additionally, the lack of representation of women in leadership positions and decision-making roles can further perpetuate these biases.

Another challenge is the limited access to networks and resources that are essential for business growth and success. Women in solar often find themselves excluded from male-dominated networks and industry events, making it challenging to establish connections and access opportunities for collaboration and growth. Additionally, securing funding and investment for female-led solar startups can be particularly challenging, as investors may perceive women entrepreneurs as higher-risk or less capable than their male counterparts.

Despite these challenges, I’ve been able to overcome them through perseverance, resilience, and a relentless commitment to my vision. By challenging stereotypes and proving my capabilities through hard work and dedication, I’ve earned the respect of my peers and built a strong reputation within the industry. I’ve also sought out supportive networks and mentorship opportunities that have provided invaluable guidance and support along the way.

Furthermore, I’ve made a conscious effort to create an inclusive and supportive work environment within my company, where women are empowered to thrive and succeed. By championing diversity and inclusion, I’ve cultivated a team of talented individuals who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table, driving innovation and creativity within the organization.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m proud to be a trailblazer for women in solar and an advocate for gender equality in the renewable energy industry. While the journey may be challenging, I’m committed to breaking down barriers, shattering stereotypes, and paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all women in solar. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and harness the power of solar energy to create positive change in the world. How do you balance work and personal life in a demanding field like engineering?

What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in solar installation?

For young women interested in pursuing a career in solar, I would offer the following advice:

Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about solar energy and the explore the various opportunities in the ecosystem, from the design stage to the installation process. Familiarize yourself with the latest technologies, industry trends, and best practices. Consider enrolling in courses or training programs to gain hands-on experience and technical expertise.

Build Your Network: Connect with professionals in the solar industry, including installers, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Attend industry events, conferences, and networking opportunities to expand your contacts and learn from experienced professionals. Join online forums and communities to engage with like-minded individuals and stay updated on industry developments.

Seek Mentorship: Find mentors who can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career in solar installation. Look for individuals who have experience and expertise in the field and are willing to share their knowledge and insights with you. A mentor can offer valuable advice, help you overcome challenges, and provide encouragement along the way.

Gain Hands-On Experience: Seek out opportunities to gain practical experience in your chosen area of interest in the solar eco system. Consider internships, apprenticeships, or volunteer work with reputable companies or organizations in the solar industry. Hands-on experience will not only enhance your skills and knowledge but also provide valuable exposure to real-world projects and challenges.

Be Persistent and Resilient: Pursuing a career in solar industry may come with its challenges, including gender biases, stereotypes and cultural barriers. Stay determined and resilient in the face of adversity. Believe in your abilities and don’t let obstacles deter you from pursuing your goals. Use setbacks as learning opportunities and keep pushing forward with confidence and perseverance.

What are some misconceptions about women in engineering that you’d like to dispel?

As a female founder in the engineering field, there are several misconceptions about women in engineering that I would like to dispel:

Lack of Competence: One common misconception is that women are less competent or capable than their male counterparts in engineering. This belief is entirely unfounded and ignores the countless talented and skilled women who excel in the field of engineering. Women are just as capable of succeeding in engineering roles as men, and their contributions should be recognized and valued accordingly.

Limited Interest: Another misconception is that women are not interested in pursuing careers in engineering. While it’s true that women are historically underrepresented in engineering fields, this is not due to a lack of interest. Rather, it often stems from societal stereotypes and systemic barriers that discourage women from pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In reality, many women are passionate about engineering and possess the skills and drive to succeed in the field.

Incompatibility with Family Life: There is a misconception that women in engineering cannot balance their careers with family responsibilities. This stereotype perpetuates the idea that women must choose between having a successful career and raising a family, which is simply not true. Many women in engineering successfully manage both their professional and personal lives, and organizations should support policies and practices that promote work-life balance for all employees.

Lack of Leadership Potential: Some people believe that women lack the leadership qualities necessary to excel in engineering roles. This misconception overlooks the numerous women who hold leadership positions in engineering companies and organizations around the world. Women bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to leadership roles, and their contributions are essential for driving innovation and success in the engineering industry.

Tokenism: There is a misconception that women in engineering are only hired or promoted to meet diversity quotas or appear more inclusive. This undermines the achievements and qualifications of women in the field and perpetuates the idea that they are not hired based on merit. In reality, Women in engineering are hired and promoted based on their skills, experience, and contributions to the field, just like their male counterparts.

Overall, it’s important to challenge these misconceptions and recognize the valuable contributions of women in engineering. By promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the engineering industry, we can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for all engineers, regardless of gender.

How do you think the representation of women in engineering has evolved over the years, and what changes still need to happen?

The representation of women in engineering has evolved significantly over the years, but there is still much progress to be made. Historically, women have been severely underrepresented in engineering fields, facing numerous barriers to entry and advancement. However, in recent decades, there has been a gradual increase in the number of women pursuing careers in engineering, thanks to efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.

One significant change has been the growing recognition of the importance of diversity in engineering. Organizations and institutions are increasingly acknowledging the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in driving innovation and problem-solving. As a result, there has been a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining women in engineering roles, as well as implementing policies and initiatives to support their success.

Additionally, there has been a rise in advocacy and support networks for women in engineering, providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and resources to help women navigate the challenges they may face in the field. These initiatives have helped to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for women in engineering, encouraging them to pursue their passions and excel in their careers.

Despite these positive changes, there are still significant barriers that prevent women from fully participating and succeeding in engineering. Gender biases, stereotypes, and systemic barriers continue to hinder the advancement of women in the field, limiting their opportunities for career growth and leadership roles. Additionally, the lack of representation of women in engineering leadership positions remains a significant challenge, perpetuating the cycle of underrepresentation and inequality.

To address these challenges and further improve the representation of women in engineering, concerted efforts are needed at all levels of society. This includes implementing policies and practices that promote gender equity and inclusion in education and the workplace, as well as challenging stereotypes and biases that limit women’s participation in STEM fields. By working together to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for women in engineering, we can ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to pursue and succeed in rewarding careers in engineering.

Lastly, how do you plan to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, and what does this day mean to you personally?

This year, we plan to celebrate International Women’s Day at Instollar with a series of events and initiatives aimed at recognizing and honoring the contributions of women. Here are some of the ways we plan to celebrate:

Employee Recognition: We will take this opportunity to celebrate and recognize the achievements and contributions of the women on our team. Apart from me, there are 2 others women on the team who’s work contribute greatly to our growth.

Onboarding Outreach: We are using the opportunity to advertise for more female participation and enrolment on our gigging economy. We will like to see more women taking advantage of the gig economy we are enabling in the industry.

Community engagement: We are engaging our broader community of users, customers, and partners to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the renewable energy sector through our social media platforms.

Supporting Women-Owned Businesses: We will make a concerted effort to support women-owned businesses in remote areas through the last mile delivery and installation done by our network of installers .

Personally, International Women’s Day holds great significance for me as a female founder and leader in the renewable energy industry. It is a day to celebrate the achievements and progress that women have made in the fight for gender equality and to reflect on the work that still needs to be done. It is a reminder of the importance of empowering women, challenging stereotypes and biases, and creating a more inclusive and equitable world for future generations. As a female entrepreneur, I am committed to driving positive change and creating opportunities for women to thrive in the renewable energy sector, and International Women’s Day serves as a powerful reminder of this mission.

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