• Nóirín Byrne
  • 6 min read

To celebrate International Women’s Day, for the next week we will be featuring women in the Irish energy sector who are contributing daily to Ireland’s clean energy transition.

Today we are featuring Áine Macken, Event Co-ordinator and Marketing Assistant at SEAI

Q1. Tell us about your current role and how it relates to the energy sector?

I work as the Event Co-ordinator and Marketing Assistant with SEAI. I have been in this role for almost three years. Last year alone I organised 92 events for almost 18,000 people, each one related to energy. I’ve facilitated loads of learning and training workshops for people interested in making a difference to Ireland’s energy use. Making sure everyone is comfortable and fed is important. Comfort is key when sharing information, ideas and training oneself up! I also work with the Marketing team on digital and print campaigns. I work on design and content editing to make sure it’s accessible, visually dynamic and understood by all.

Q2. What inspired you to get into this area of work?

 I’ve naturally been an event co-ordinator for most of my life. From about the age of seven, I organised dozens of extremely serious boot skating workshops in my neighbour’s sloped driveway. They were very well attended, thanks for asking. I also come from an artistic background, with an MA in art from NCAD. It was a 50% theory, 50% practice MA. Meaning that I’m a qualified art critic along with being a semi-professional painter. It was a natural progression that I would work on design projects for SEAI. Organising the massive schedule of events was pretty natural too. I had to get them up to the standard of my boot-skate-boot-camp glory. I fell into SEAI by accident. I was on a temporary assignment for 8 months. Almost 6 years later, I’m still here. I'm SEAI's biggest fan. Particularly of the amazing team of talented professionals that work here. It's amazing to witness them all doing their very best to make a difference and take climate action.

Q3. What is your professional background?

 I’ve a long history of working in administrative roles. My first receptionist job being at the tender age of 18. Over the years I worked for companies like Google, Mastercard, a few art galleries and Visual Artist’s Ireland. I also set up my own evening based art classes eight years ago. They were aimed at people who were curious about creativity. I gave them the opportunity to experiment with different kinds of art forms. We had everything from street art, to burlesque life drawing, to an informal art therapy session, to screen printing. I had to retire from Art Clash once I came into this role. I was way too busy! But, I still teach regular art classes organised by a friend called Drag&Draw. I then came into SEAI. I went from working on quality assurance, to the inspections unit, to the business team, to where I am now!

Q.4 What was your first role?

 My first ever job was as a swimming teacher and lifeguard. I was 15!

 Q.5 What do you enjoy about your current role?

 There’s a certain moment. A day or two after a huge event. You have a look at some photos of this gigantic thing you’ve managed to pull together. This is with the invaluable help of the millions of lovely people you’re lucky enough to work with. But in that certain moment, you think, “WOW, I made this happen! Little me?!” That’s the very best part. Also, I am so very busy that I’m never, ever bored. There’s always something new. I love giving my creative input on design projects. Most of all though, I enjoy working with the people in SEAI. There are so many talented, passionate individuals in this organisation. Makes it an inspiring place to work.

 Q.6 How does your role impact people/society?

On a small scale, I try make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible. I want them in the best position to learn as much as they can and take that information with them to make a difference. On a larger scale, my role brings people together. This is so that they can make a meaningful difference. I’m tasked with facilitating the rich content that SEAI provides. Each event gives delegates the chance to bring learning back... To their companies, to their communities, to their neighbours. It’s amazing to think that the work that I do could go some way to combating the effects of energy use on the climate. I don’t know a better reason to come into work than that!

Q.7 What do you hope to achieve in the future?

 I’d like to keep progressing, I’ve had a very steep learning curve the last three years but garner so much joy from it. I have gained more and more confidence in my abilities to deliver spectacular things. I've taken on so many new challenges. I’d like to nurture this as much as possible and be BRAVE. How that will progress itself will all be revealed I suppose. I also really want to write a novel, one day!

Q.8 What advice would you offer women hoping to join this sector?

 As someone not from a STEM background AT ALL, I’ve found this sector to be an incredibly inspirational place to be. There’s so much you can do to exploit your own talents for the good of the energy transition. We need everyone to infuse their respective talents into this fight for climate action. So, don’t count yourself out if you’re not technically minded. There is so much good you can do as long as you have a passion for it.

Q.9 What advice would you offer women in the early stages of their career in this sector?

 Be brave. Be authoritative. Don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. We all have our own unique sets of skills that we can offer others. We have to be brave enough to abandon our trademark Irish humility, so that we can make our own unique difference.

 

Women In Energy Network Event at the RDS

Building on the success of themed events in previous years, the Women in Energy Network will be running a networking event at this year’s SEAI Energy Show in the RDS on the 1st April 2020. The theme for this year will be ‘Leadership’.

The event will feature a panel of female leaders in Ireland’s energy sector, who will be speaking on their experiences, achievements and ambitions for the future.