Katina headshotFor International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Council is celebrating the achievements of women in the advanced energy field. Today, we sat down with Katina Stavrou, Senior Manager for Schneider Electric’s North American Global Supply Chain and TAEBC Board Member, to discuss her career and her thoughts on the advanced energy industry.

What is the importance of the advanced energy industry?

My answer here is twofold. First, we are a critical industry. In the early stages of the pandemic back in early 2020, I was often reflecting on the impact of our work: our uninterrupted power supplies, data centers, building management systems were literally keeping the lights on and power going in our hospitals during one of the most difficult times in our lifetime. Knowing our work was making a difference kept us working diligently and effectively during the challenges of the pandemic.

Secondly, our industry is driving the necessary changes to realize a more sustainable future. We believe the future is smart and green, and we must continue to innovate and deploy sustainable technology at speed and scale to tackle climate change.

What brought you into the advanced energy field?

Schneider Electric! I had worked in customs compliance from a services perspective, and I was energized by the idea of working directly for an importer. Schneider Electric believes that energy is a basic human right – a principle aligned with my values and a reason why I chose to work for the company.

What is one of the proudest moments of your career to date? Or a time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone, and it paid off?

In 2020, I completed an assignment with our Government Relations department. It was thrilling as we were heading into an election and there was a lot of work to be done in the area of understanding our future political landscape. This opportunity allowed me to virtually meet several elected officials and share the contribution that Schneider was making in their state. I was also able to talk about the importance of green infrastructure.  

Following this assignment, I was suggested to represent our company as a board member for TAEBC. Our previous representative, Trish Starkey, was the former president, so I had big shoes to fill! It has been an honor to serve as a voice for the development of advanced energy jobs in our great state of Tennessee.

Is there a woman who has inspired you to pursue a career in the advanced energy space? Or an impactful mentor in this space?

I would have to say Annette Clayton. She is not only Chief Executive Officer and President of North America for Schneider Electric and member of the Board of Governors for NEMA, but she also plays an active role in giving our industry a voice in the nation’s energy and infrastructure legislation. She is a force when she walks into a room – watching Annette passionately speak about how Schneider Electric contributes to combating climate change and ensures that our customers have a predictable delivery and superior product, reinforces the notion that women have a strong voice. People listen to her, and she inspires me to speak up.

What advice do you have for other women in the advanced energy industry?

I would tell women in the advanced energy industry and in any STEM field to stick with it. Do not be frustrated that there are few women at the boardroom table or that you are the only one. Let that absence inspire you. Women have a unique perspective and can lead. Keep persevering and you will inspire others to do the same.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about women’s equality. There are only a few days important enough to be celebrated all over the globe.

Women’s Day was recognized in the U.S. in 1909 when 15,000 women marched in New York City demanding similar rights that we continue to fight for today: gender equity, a seat at the table, family leave (that will benefit all parents, not just women) and better pay. In the past century, we have made much progress, and I strongly feel that we need to continue to strive for women’s equality and take the opportunity to celebrate our achievements on March 8!

Stavrou joined the TAEBC board in 2021. Learn more about her here. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our members, advanced energy news and upcoming events. Also, if you’re not already a member, become a member today!