Lekela’s Jennifer Boca named amongst Cranfield University’ Woman to Watch

Cranfield University recently published its annual Women to Watch list, showcasing 100 senior women across a range of sectors. We’re delighted to announce that our Head of Environmental, Social and Governance, Jennifer Boca, was selected as part of the list for 2020.

Produced by Cranfield School of Management, the Women to Watch list highlights some of the leading women from a range of different sectors and career backgrounds, and aims to inspires businesses to look at gender diversity in a different way.

To mark this achievement, we asked Jennifer  to share a little more detail about her role at Lekela, what she’s learnt in her career so far, and what more can be done to improve diversity in the power sector:

  1. Tell us more your role at Lekela and why you enjoy doing it?

As the Head of ESG, I oversee the environmental and social performance across our portfolio of projects in South Africa, Egypt, Senegal and Ghana. My role entails working closely with lenders, contractors, asset managers as well as Company Management to ensure that all our projects are delivered to the very highest standards.

What I enjoy most about working for Lekela is the opportunity to deliver real tangible benefits to countries and communities we invest in - both in delivering clean affordable energy, as well as community projects in education, enterprise development and the environment. At a personal level, as an African, it is a privilege to be involved in tackling some of the developmental challenges the continent faces and making a difference closer to home.

  1. What route did you take to get to your present role? And what's most important that you've learnt along the way?

I studied Environmental Planning and Management in Kenya and pursued a Master’s degree in the same in the UK. I then spent over 10 years working for various international engineering firms undertaking Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for major infrastructure in the UK, Asia and Africa. This was cross-sectoral, including on roads, ports, pipelines, waste management and power infrastructure.

In 2009, I was involved in one of the largest Wind farms in Africa – Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya. This project ignited my passion for green energy and the hope that renewables presented for powering Africa towards a more sustainable development path. When an opportunity with Lekela came along in 2015, I was very excited to be joining a company whose mission is to invest in renewables in Africa with ESG at the heart of its business strategy. It has been a fantastic journey and I have enjoyed the challenges of developing utility-scale projects in Africa and am excited by the difference we continue to make on the continent.

  1. What do you want to see more of in the sector to increase female representation and diversity more generally?

Traditionally the power sector has been male-dominated and this has sometimes created a perception that it is not well suited for women. This kind of stereotyping often can be a barrier to female participation. There is therefore a need for more female role models – examples of women with successful careers in the sector can increase confidence in young females who look up to them and lead to more of them participating.

It’s also important to create opportunities for girls early on in their education to pursue relevant subjects - especially in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) - to ensure there is a pipeline of talent when employment opportunities arise.

Currently, females working in the power sector are over-represented in administrative and non-technical roles and there is a need to attract talent at the senior and more technical roles. As with other sectors, the energy companies that practice and support a diverse and inclusive workplace will achieve competitive advantage becoming more adaptable and being able to attract and retain top talent.